Aditya Aggarwal
IMPACT INVESTING

Aditya Aggarwal

#155

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Partner, Venture Capital (Industrial Innovation Venture Fund)

Aditya Aggarwal – Unlocking value through board seats

“From an ecosystem perspective, now you’re able to scale companies out of Canada and still function globally.”

ABOUT

Years of proven record in building, architecting and delivering large scale intelligent software solutions and products in electric mobility, smart grid, energy geographic information systems, and internet/networks services domains through focus on scalable micro services architecture, machine learning and data analytics.

Has a history of building software and data-driven businesses, making him an ally to entrepreneurs looking to scale their company.

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THE FULL INTERVIEW

Aditya Aggarwal

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery: Welcome to impact investing brought to you by supporters fund dot com for the student visa capital of the world Toronto Canada I’m your host Jeffrey JP Potvin and that’s please welcome from the longest underground shopping complex in the world with to 1200 stores and 30 kilometers in length in Toronto Canada, a Aditya Aggarwal, partner of BDC Industrial Innovations Fund. Welcome, Aditya how are you feeling? Thank you very much for joining us.

Aditya: Thank you. Thank you, Jeffrey. Glad to be here. Doing well. You know, we’re hitting this bout of late summer weather in Toronto, so could couldn’t be excited before we get into the cold fall and winter here. So so so glad to be here.

Jeffery: I love it. And I do see that things are going to change this weekend. I think it’s going to start raining and temperatures are going to drop in half. So I think we’re at that exciting moment where it’s got to get outside in the next two days before the sun disappears and hopefully it comes back. But it will will only pray for that.

Aditya: Yeah, I’m I’m hoping I get to get at least one more round of golf over the long weekend, the Thanksgiving weekend before, before I put my clubs away.

Jeffery: I love it. I love it. Well, I’m pretty excited to have you join us today. And the reason, of course, is that you’re part of one big conglomerate of investors in Canada and, you know, we don’t always get the opportunity to really understand how this behemoth of an investor comes into it. And I say behemoth because in Canada we tend to have a lot of areas to do investment, but you don’t always have one big player that just really does a great job. On investing in a lot of the great innovation that’s coming out of Canada. And you see this across the globe and everybody’s trying to kind of match up to what cannabis built, especially in this early stage and mid-tier ecosystem. So it’s very exciting to have you to be able to kind of chat through some of this and get some learnings from you. But on the other side, I think the other side excites me is that you’re also an engineer by trade, so I don’t always get the opportunity to talk with a fellow nerd, I guess, or a software hack, I guess. Or how would we want to call it, But I’m very excited about that side as well. So but to jump in and get this show started, the way we like to start things off is we want to learn a bit more about you. So if you could share a bit about your background all the way from your schooling days through Dalhousie, all the way through to everything you’ve done today. And then one thing about you that nobody would know.

Aditya: All right, good. So maybe I’ll start with the first part of the question. You know, my background, as you said, I’m a technologist at heart, and by trade, you know, I was never in the financial world. And if you would have asked me 20 years ago, 25 years ago, what I would have been doing in my where I am today, I probably the answer would have been very different to where I am. So, you know, I’m a computer software engineer. I spent four years in India, Bangalore, which was at the time the you could call it the Silicon Valley of India, probably still is. And there was a big push right around when I joined engineering school. There was this whole conversation around Y2K so that the switch of the millennium, 1999 to 2000, everybody was talking about Y2K. So tons and tons of money was poured into it, come from the aerospace company in India to just solve that problem, which kind of created a buzz around, you know, everybody wanted to be a software engineer, a computer engineer. And growing up in that that period which led me to join engineering school, I started as a chemical engineer and eventually switched switched to software engineering in my fourth term, which was interesting. I did the initial one on one on fluid dynamics and then so on before I started programing with C C++ back in the day. So, you know, as soon as you graduate, there’s always an option of working for one of the large service I.T services company and then the companies and then I had some of those opportunities as well. But I said, why not go abroad and, you know, explore a little bit more and try to solve deeper technical studies and topics. And then up in Halifax, Canada. E Scor So you mentioned the student visa population of the world, Toronto, but Canada is much broader than that. So, you know, China is not the it is the core. Yes, but there are a lot of other good schools on the fringes as well. So Halifax was very interesting. You know, that city has evolved quite a lot since when I came in 2003. I went to the computer science school for my master’s in computer science, and I picked the stream machine learning back in 2004. You know, So it is quite the joke today that I make is in a back then the only thing you could do after a master’s in machine learning was do a Ph.D. are going to research or work for a call center right. It was it wasn’t something that is, as you know, novel and I don’t know, sexy as today everybody wants to be doing some sort of machine learning anyway. So I spend a couple of years at my research in that the problem that we took on was a classification problem and in biology, which is related to classification of protein sequences. So it was quite relevant from a research academic point of view. And then as you know, that been that doesn’t really pay the bills. So after I graduated I was like, okay, what’s next? So I had this flu opportunity in Halifax because I was like a programmer at heart, wanted to do a lot of programing still. So I joined this startup. It was acquired by AOL and the voice over IP domain, I think of 2004 or five. Skype was the way everybody was, you know, was over IP kind of replacing phone lines and what we can do with IP based phone conversations and systems. So it was a very cool opportunity. We were with the company at the height when the platform that we worked on had the biggest number of subscribers in the world from a from a chat perspective to go in users, right? So those numbers seem small today after the, the, the Googles and the Facebooks Metazoans Instagrams of the world, WhatsApp as well. But at the time they were one of the largest platforms to our users. So so that was interesting. And then for personal reasons, I moved on the East Coast, New Brunswick, you know, so if Halifax was small for somebody coming from Delhi as much, Bangalore and India, think about Fredericton. So so a city with 50,000 people, the biggest shock was, okay, we are the people. When when I landed in New Brunswick, Fredericton on a Sunday, probably a good 20 people on the street. And I was like, okay, this is a Sunday. Okay, Well, see, more people have come Monday. Okay? So Monday comes and rolls around and there are probably 50 people on the street. So it was a bit of a shock, but I cannot complain because I spent ten years in Fredericton. I spent five of those years with, again, programing deep R&B with a company called Caris, which was eventually acquired by Teledyne Systems. So we were one of the unique in terms of building the ocean mapping. So if you’re on a boat, yard or anywhere else operating a port, the software that you’re using for managing the waterways, navigation and so on was probably built by that company. So it was it was very cool. And it was the same time when Google Earth was taking off on kind of the land ecosystem and we were on the ocean side with Israel as our biggest competitor. If you were in that domain, you would have heard that name quite often. And then, you know, people a headhunter approached me. I landed at Siemens, was one of the first few hires at the new R&D center that they were setting up. Join them again as a software engineer. And, you know, it is interesting that I spend that time in New Brunswick and the opportunity to work with this PM of a Fortune 50 company, Siemens Setting up R&D Center. I travel so much with Siemens out of New Brunswick that gave me a perspective that having me and not have. If I would have landed in Toronto and took up a job, maybe not with a traditional company and I would have gotten lost in, you know, small fish, big pond, big fish, small pond, kind of an analogy. So with Siemens, I spent about eight years various different role, as did a couple of multiple jobs on online promotions, traveled the globe, spent time in Europe, U.S., worked with some of the largest investor owned utilities in the ecosystem, solving problems that we are talking about today around demand response, r