Parag Naik, Co-Founder and CEO, Saankhya Labs

Parag Naik has nearly three decades of cross-industry experience in telecom and consumer electronics, ranging from semiconductors to hardware and software. He started his career in 1992 with PCS and was one of the designers for LCA Tejas. He also worked in Europe for Philips R&D and in the US for start-ups in Silicon Valley.

For the last 20 years, he has been involved in the creation of high-tech start-ups in Bengaluru. “I have founded three companies and have been credited for nurturing and building the hardware start-up ecosystem in the region.”

As the co-founder and chief executive officer of Saankhya Labs, he is responsible for the company’s go-to-market strategy, investor relations and general management. Saankhya operates in the radio access networks space and has designed indigenous SDR chipsets and satcom products for a variety of applications.

Naik says, “We have an onerous task of putting India on the global telecom map. Saankhya is a small innovative company pitted against big brands with deep pockets. In the past few months, we have seen some tailwinds in the form of geo-political alignment and a technical inflexion point in 5G network deployment through open and disaggregated networks. We are now in talks with top operators in Europe and the US, competing against the best for their 5G build out”.

Naik sees four emerging trends in the sector. First, open and digitised networks, which help in breaking vendor lock-in and promote a Linux like model in the hardware world; second, dis-aggregation of networks wherein operators build networks through Lego like blocks coming in from multiple smaller vendors; third, virtualisation wherein network components run as software components on generic hardware; and fourth, cognition wherein networks are getting intelligent and respond to their radio environment dynamically.

He likes to describe his management style as informal, engaging and hands-on. “Quite a few of us have worked together for 20+ years. Our team has great bonding and fierce loyalty to the cause.”

Naik is a computer science engineer and loves reading and working out, especially running and gymming. He lives in Bengaluru with his mother, wife and two young kids. He says, “My wife is a homemaker and has been highly supportive through my crazy work schedules and the travails of running a high-tech start-up. It is almost impossible to put up with all the uncertainty at the workplace without support from your spouse.”