Srinivas KILAMBI: Entrepreneur

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  • Tell us something about yourself, your background

I hold a Ph.D in Chemical-Environmental Engineering from University of Tennessee Knoxville and Oak Ridge National Lab, a MS from Johns Hopkins and Clarkson Universities, B.S from IIT Madras and also a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). I have been CEO/CTO of multi-billion dollar Private and Public companies/divisions in the USA and India, like Tatas and Reliance, and also a founder of 6 startups. I have over 20 US and 10 International patents.

 I have received several awards such as the Entrepreneur of India Award (1989). In 2009 I received The Indus Entrepreneur (TiE) Atlanta Entrepreneur of the year award and in 2010 TiE Global Pioneer award. In 2010 I was also selected by the prestigious World Economic Forum for its technology pioneer top 25 in the world award and in 2011 by Frost & Sullivan as the North American Greentech award winner. In 2011 the state of Georgia (GA) selected me as the Technology Pioneer Award Winner and GA Savannah Finalist.

I currently run Sustainability-AI-Biotech (SAB) Technology Group, a social media platform for technology discussions, information dissemination and mentoring of young minds to make them future entrepreneurs (job creators rather than job seekers). 

  • Can you list your ventures with a brief explanation of each
  1. 1988-91 – “Chitin-Chitosan.”, India’s First Biotech Startup
  2. 1993-7Supported Liquid Membranes, 2 US Patents, 2 US Start-ups and 2 US IPOs
  3. 2000-3 – AI/Expert Systems Solution for Environmental Engineers
  4. 2007-12 Super Critical Water conversion of biomass to fuels in less than 2 secs
  5. 2008-13 – Green Nano Cement-based company with 1200 C lower starting temperatures and up to 33% reduction in energy, GHG emissions.
  6. 2017 – Current. AI-based solution for e-commerce to increase the conversion and engagement on their website by 2-10X
  7. 2020 – SAB Technology Group, a social media platform for technology discussions, information dissemination and mentoring of young minds to make them future entrepreneurs (job creators rather than job seekers) 
  • How/Why did you start as an entrepreneur? What set you off?

Right from my Indian Institute of Technology Madras student days (1981-85), I always wanted to be an entrepreneur and have my own chemical company. I went to a top US University for my MS in Biochemical engineering, but my mind was always on how I can start my entrepreneurial journey.

  • Tell us about each of your ventures

Chitin-Chitosan

I learnt about “Chitin-Chitosan” in Baltimore, MD. I became so enamoured by the bio-chemical and its potential applications that I left back for India mid-way through my MS in 1986 and founded my 1st start-up, “Chemopol Complex (I) Pvt. Ltd (1987-1991)”.  I formed this company with 3 other chemical engineers in 1987 to build India’s 1st and world’s 3rd Chitosan manufacturing plant with $150,000 Government backed soft loans.

So, what exactly is Chitosan? Chitosan is a linear polysaccharide. It is made by treating the chitin shells of shrimp and other crustaceans with an alkaline substance, such as sodium hydroxide.

The plant became operational in 1989, and I even won the “Best Young Entrepreneur of India” award that year. Unfortunately, we were way ahead of our times as no one in India had ever heard about Chitosan and its numerous applications, such as being the best compound for wound healing and for making biodegradable medical sutures. We had to develop local and export markets in an era where there were no phones or e-mails because everything was done through letters. Even though we had great profit margins, we could not become profitable due to a severe time lag between an enquiry from US, sample shipment, testing, acceptance, order placement, fulfilment, delivery, and payment. Ultimately, I sold my shares to my partners and returned to US in 1991 to complete my MS. 

Supported Liquid Membranes (SLM)

I finished my MS in 1993 and my PhD in Jan 1996.  My PhD resulted in 4 patents. In 1995, instead of looking for potential job, I began to look for partners to commercialize my PhD technology “Supported Liquid Membranes (SLM)”.

Let me first define what is an SLM is. A Supported Liquid Membrane (SLM) is a liquid membrane (LM) that is formed by a thin layer of organic phase (usually with dissolved reagents) between two aqueous phases of different compositions.  My partnership with Commodore Group, who funded my SLM start-up, illustrates the “Great Idea to a Grand Exit” the best.

 Commodore Group (1995-98)

I met Commodore Group in NY in October 1995 and from this meeting began my 2nd entrepreneurial journey. I gave a presentation on my technology and was told to wait. After a short time, their CEO came and gave me an incredible offer. The offer was a job as Vice President of a new startup with a 6-figure starting salary, a 250,000 stock grant, and a signing bonus of a brand-new car! I signed and handed over the technology to Commodore and from there two startups emerged. For the two startups, I was the Chief Science Officer of one company and the Chief Science Advisor of the 2nd. Both startups went on to become US IPOs raising $97 Million in 1996-97. I created two Commodore companies/spinoffs which went from 1 to over 100 employees in less than 18 months. This was a dream come true. I moved to Atlanta in 1997 and Commodore even payed $40,000, the down payment my 1st home in Marietta GA in 1997. I had big financial payouts from both Commodore companies which laid the foundation for my subsequent entrepreneurial success.

Sriya Innovations (Renmatix 2007-12)

I returned to the USA in mid-2007 with a technology based on super critical water (SCW) to convert biomass to sugars in only 5 seconds instead of 5 days.

Let us first define what is SCW?  Water becomes supercritical at 374.2 C and 225 atm pressure. At this state SCW is both a gas and liquid as it has the solvating properties of a liquid and dispersion properties of a gas.  It has a very low dielectric constant and is completely non-polar and behaves more like an organic solvent. 

Furthermore, Bill Joy, Co-Founder of Sun Microsytems, Inc., liked my technology and his VC firm Kleiner Perkins (KP) invested $6M in 2007. Later, John Doeer, an early investor in Amazon and Google, invested $15 M through KP. The company was a big success and I exited the company in 2012 after an additional investment by a consortium of big players and investors like Gates Foundation. The success of Sriya Innovations was due to the rapid growth of the company from 1 person to over 100 in less than 24 months. I sold my shares between 2012-15 with multi-X returns to all early investors

  • Social media, website and video links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/srinivas.kilambi.7

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/srinivaskilambi/

Website: www.keydabra.com

–End of Interview–

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