Business Point of View: A Better Voting System

Glass Woman

Crosstown Moves

Management Moves

Leaving Town


Corrections or additions?

These articles by Barbara Fox were prepared for the October 27,

2004 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Life in the Fast Lane

When Ram Iyer needed to raise his GMAT score by 180 points, he

practiced taking the test 26 times. He scored 700 and got into MIT’s

Sloan School.

When he developed a bad case of the jitters about being successful at

the Sloan School, he vowed to climb Mount Rainier, training for eight

months, first climbing Mount Saint Helens, then Mount Whitney, and

then Rainier. With this accomplished, when he reached Sloan, he earned

all As but for one B.

Iyer, a former director of sales at Lucent Technologies, opened Argea

with a one-person office on Emmons Drive in September, 2003, and he

recently expanded to more space. His company outsources global

resources and technologies. His persistence is responsible for his

success, he says, and persistence is the trait he admires in his

former mentor at Lucent Technologies, Carly Fiorina, now CEO at

Hewlett Packard. "She got ahead for a very good reason; she was a bull

dog. ‘No’ was not a good answer," says Iyer.

Iyer used up lots of patience and persistence to get this far. Last

year it took him nine months to enlist William Batiste, former head of

PriceWaterhouse Cooper’s North American business process outsourcing

practice, but in the end he was successful, and Batiste agreed to be

chairman of the new company.

The newest staff member is Michael H. Thomas, executive vice president

for the pharmaceutical industry practice. He had been CEO of

GlycoDesign, a publicly traded Canadian biopharmaceutical company that

was successfully merged, a group president at R.P. Scherer

Corporation, and vice president of international strategic marketing

at Bayer Inc.

Iyer’s engineering training is in robotics, but he is a born narrator.

He came from what he describes as "humble beginnings" in southern

India, near Bangalore, but says education propelled him forward.

Both of his grandfathers were Hindu priests; his father sold his real

estate inheritance to get his bachelor’s degree and become a high

school principal. Iyer graduated from the University of Mysore in

1982. He earned a master’s in undergraduate robotics from the

University of New Hampshire, and then worked in Seattle for Boeing,

where was in charge of the project to design the assembly robot for

the Boeing 777.

Later, at Lucent, he built the first "lot size one," an assembly line

that can manufacture cell phones, each one different from the next. He

was head of sales strategy and marketing for Lucent, selling into

AT&T, an account worth $4.3 billion, the single largest commercial

account in the world at that time. He was one of six people who

developed the international strategy for Lucent, and director of sales

for selling into Concert, the $10 billion AT&T/British Telecom joint


With relish, he tells the story about a risky idea that shows how he

drew support from Fiorina. In 1998 his group had to make a pitch,

worth billions of dollars, to Michael Armstrong, then CEO of AT&T.

Instead of just showing the 22 boxes that Lucent offered, and telling

what they could do, Iyer presented his group’s idea: To build a stage

set and hire professional actors to actually demonstrate the

technology of the future.

"I remember Rich McGuinn, the CEO of Lucent, saying, ‘Ram, I don’t

think so.’ There was a dead silence. Then Carly spoke up. ‘I think

it’s a good idea,’ she said.

It was not his idea, he hastens to add. It came from someone he had

hired. "My claim to fame is once I saw the idea I knew it would work

and I sold it to the muckety mucks. My boss sat by and was quiet. But

Carly said it was a good idea, and Carly had a lot of clout even back


"We built an entire room and all the demos from scratch, and what we

put together as the Next Generation Network showcase in 1998 is still

there today. We created little scenarios for how the boxes would work,

and then laid out how AT&T could make money doing that."

"We had an actor sitting on a couch and watching TV for air fares. He

clicked to a hotel in London, and clicked push to talk, asking for a

room facing the gardens, then he pushed a video image of the view to

the garden."

After Iyer left Lucent he moved to California, where he was a vice

president at inOvate, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm and

incubator. "I specialized in the wireless space," he says. "We had

‘quality money,’ from VCs like Sequoia, Cisco, Charles River, and the

Internet Capital Group (ICG), and we did OK, but we were riding a

bubble." He would not want to return to that field, and is fond of

saying, "A good technocrat does not maketh a good VC."

Most recently, he was the CEO of Fremont Technology Group, an

enterprise software company focused on back-office integration.

Iyer is a trailing spouse; his wife, who has four master’s degrees,

has a staff job at Merrill Lynch, and they have a three-year-old

daughter. He chose Princeton for Argea because of its easy access to

New York, and one of the reasons he rents on Emmons Drive is because

of its Princeton zipcode. "From an entrepreneur’s perspective, that

makes a difference," he says. "Trust me, that was not by accident."

Iyer’s office used to be part of a suite maintained by another

long-time entrepreneur, Frank Sardi, who is the defacto small business

coach at this office development, Princeton Commerce Center. "He has

been enormously helpful to me, providing constant guidance, especially

on advertising, marketing communications, and sales prospecting," says

Iyer. Iyer believes he and his cohorts can overcome the two major

obstacles that keep outsourcing from being successful.

You know what to do but don’t have the right people to do it. "The way

you manage offshore vendors is very different, and if you don’t have

the right person, you are likely to meet with failure. We can

parachute people in," says Iyer.

A virtual company, Argea uses the "extended enterprise" model, with

key people spread across the country. "We eat our own dog food," says


You are dealing with an offshore vendor that you don’t understand.

Reams have been written about culture clashes, and one of the major

tomes was written by Argea’s Craig Storti. Iyer gives one example,

that shaking your head from side to side, in some parts of India,

means Yes, not No. "If you are sensitized about the nuances of

business communication, you will be able to deal with offshore vendors

more effectively."

It doesn’t work to hope outsourcing will go away, says Iyer, because

"Globalization is happening, and outsourcing is a company’s answer to


Originally, Fortune 100 corporations opened plants overseas so that

they could sell into new markets. Now some of the people they train

will become competitors.

"When you spread the knowledge, you will have people moving up the

value chain and becoming your competitors. The only way to continue to

compete is to embrace this model but be one step ahead of them," says


"Any company can become more globally competitive by integrating a

global set of suppliers and then presenting the best solution to their

clients. That company is the master orchestrator that puts it all


Not too many consultants focus on outsourcing, claims Iyer, claiming

as competitors Taylor Paul India and Everest Consulting, both located

in Texas. Argea is different from the rest, Iyer says, because instead

of selling a consulting contract the standard way, through RFPs,

adversarial encounters, and open bids, he will draw from a 5,000-entry

database of providers and work collaboratively with them and the

client. "A provider might tell me that if I use their excess capacity

at a different datacenter it can shave 15 percent off the price," says


He and the head of the International Association of Contract Manager

are of like minds, and they plan to evangelize the industry. "If we

don’t become globally competitive I would be concerned for the future

of my three-year-old daughter," says Iyer.

"The problem with many consultants is that they sell what they haven’t

staffed," he says, pointing out that he can draw not only from a

current pool of appropriate people but that he knows where to find

more. "At the end of the day," says Iyer, "you are buying me."

Argea, 29 Emmons Drive, Suite C-40, Princeton 08540. Ram

Iyer, CEO. 609-734-9100. Home page:

Top Of Page
Business Point of View: A Better Voting System

Can you imagine that we are less than a week away from the four-year

mark of the embarrassing 2000 general election? Lawsuits over

inadequacy of electronic voting machines and systems are already

flying all over this great land before the first vote is officially

counted for the 2004 election. As a citizen, you may wonder what the

technology giants in our land have been doing to help this important

matter of exercising our democracy. The answer is quite interesting:


However, the Washington Road company for which I work, AVANTE

International Technology Inc., has been spending millions of dollars

and thousands of man-days to develop what one may call a "perfect"

voting system: A simple notion that a voting system should ensure that

every vote cast is counted and counted correctly.

Imagine voters of all ages and levels of familiarity with computers or

other modern information age gadgets guided through the voting process

by the invisible hand of ingenious engineering. They are presented

their ballots one contest at a time during voting. If they do not wish

to vote on a specific contest or issue, they simply press on the "Skip

Contest" button and the next contest is presented automatically. There

is no "Next" or "Back" button to befuddle the voters. No one will be

confused by split screens showing multiple contests that induces them

to make mistakes by "under-voting." It eliminates the 12.3 percent

undervote that was reported in California during the U.S. Senate race

demonstrated by other voting systems. The "one-way-voting-path"

ensures no unintentional undervotes will ever be made by any voter

entering the voting booth.

Further imagine that, when the voters have completed their selections

on the touch-screen, voters are presented with private paper records

of the choices for verification. After verification, the paper records

are retrieved automatically for an audit trail and for manual recount

if ever needed. As for the blind and visually impaired voters, they

are guided in the same way with voice assistance and assured of their

selection with immediate voice read back of choices they made. At the

end, after the paper records are printed, the contents are read back

to the voters for verification just as for sighted voters.

Would you think such voting system is too good to be true?

Actually, the solution is now available and proven. It was first

introduced to the public in March, 2001, in a press conference at the

Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. Avante’s engineers and staff

started the development of such a system with a patent filed only few

days after the November, 2000, election. Avante’s pioneering efforts

and voting systems have helped states like California and Illinois to

have laws enacted requiring what is now called "voter verified paper

audit trail" (VVPAT).

In fact, Vote-Trakker – the first voting system with VVPAT – is an

example of proven and available system that all of the concerned

citizens of our voting infrastructure point to. Since then the

solution has been perfected with real elections in Sacramento,

California in 2002 and Connecticut in 2003. The system made by Avante

has passed the 1990 FEC voting system standards and is the only system

that has passed 2002 FEC voting system standards. This system is also

certified for use in New Jersey and 20 other states.

Avante now awaits what may be its first major order from its home

state of New Jersey in the pending RFQ. New Jersey has been given

millions of dollars of federal funds to update its voting systems in

all 21 counties to meet the mandate of the 2002 enacted "Help America

Vote Act." Almost all of the current voting systems in New Jersey do

not meet the HAVA mandates.

Besides pioneering the making and usage of a voting system with a

"paper record audit trail" that is voter verified, Avante also

pioneered the first online voter registration system that captures

biometric digitized signature. The captured biometric digitized

signature not only reduces the memory requirement to 300 bytes from 50

Kbytes of typical digitized signature from paper, it is a patented

technology that can play back the signing motion like a movie (minus

the presence of the person of course). Any layman or judge can view

the movie to verify if someone actually signed the document.

Avante is now working with partners such as Dell, Computer Associates,

etc. in bidding on a contract for the State of New Jersey to provide a

uniform Statewide Voter Registration System (SVRS) that will eliminate

duplicate voter registration as well as provide better voter

assistance. Any voter can print out a map to their polling place or

preview the layout of the polling place in pictures. Voters can be

assured of their data’s privacy better than all other states’ SVRS if

the New Jersey chooses to use the Avante system that provide an

optional biometric digitized signature authentication before any

election official can log onto the database.

Tallone is vice president of business development for Avante.

Avante International Technology Inc. (AI Technology), 70

Washington Road, Princeton Junction 08550. Kevin Chung, president.

609-799-8896; fax, 609-799-9308. Home page:

Top Of Page
Glass Woman

Anna Wojcik (pronounced Vo-chik) is inventing next generation coatings

for optical fibers. Having emigrated from Poland, she won SBIR grants

and has opened a three-person company, Hybrid Glass Technologies, at

Princeton Corporate Plaza.

Wojcik’s late father was a musician, and she was one of five children.

She earned her 1973 undergraduate degree in organic and inorganic

chemistry, and also her PhD, from UMCS in Lublin, Poland. As a senior

Fulbright scholar she came to the United States to study at Brown

University. She is a single parent, and she has a 19-year-old

daughter, who now attends Rutgers, and a 28-year-old daughter, a


After her stint at Brown she worked as a scientist in Massachusetts

for two years. "I got the flavor of being in business," she says, "and

I understood that I can open my own business and be an independent


"My target was government," she says. "I knew about SBIR from the

beginning and applied immediately – four times, in 1997 and 1998, and

I was successful once." Her Phase I grant was for $100,000. Her Phase

II grant, for the Navy, is for specialty coatings for optical fiber.

"I am the only winner of the Phase II grant, and now I can get $1


The grant required her to leave Rutgers, where she was leasing space

as a visiting scientist, to open a bigger laboratory. "Getting

contracts from the government requires me to be fully independent,"

she says. She has two employees and plans to hire two more by January.

"At the end of the two-year contract, my company will start to produce

small quantities of this product." She will continue production unless

she decides to license the technology.

"Physical glass is made by melting at high temperatures, but the

sol-gel technique uses chemicals to make the same glass at room

temperatures, and we can incorporate all kinds of organic materials,"

she says. This method does not make huge quantities of glass but it

combines the advantages of glass and polymers to make glass-like

materials with functionally typical of polymers. The resulting

material can be photosensitive and have a low refractive index;

nanomaterials can also be attached. "The combination of glass and

polymers has endless applications," she says.

Hybrid Glass Technologies, 1 Deer Park Drive, Suite M,

Monmouth Junction, Anna Wojcik, president. 732-329-8087; 609-688-1894.

Top Of Page
Crosstown Moves

C.J. Parts Distributors, 2 Chilton Way, Trenton 08638.

Richard Boothby. 609-924-1393.

C. J. Parts Distributors vacated its store at 190 Witherspoon Street

and moved to the main location in Trenton. Soon it will open a store

in Dayton. The Princeton location was owned by Richard Boothby until

1995, and Boothby now works in Trenton.

Loth Floors & Ceilings, 1750 Whitehorse Mercerville Road,

Suite 9, Hamilton 08619. Christopher J. Walsh, president.

609-586-5441; fax, 609-586-4473.

Loth Floors and Ceilings moved from 3,000 square feet at Sanhican

Drive in the third week of October and has a similar sized space in

Hamilton. Phone and fax are new. It sells and installs carpet, tile,

and linoleum.

Top Of Page
Management Moves

Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMY), Route 206 and

Province Line Road, Box 4000, Princeton 08543-4000. PRI. 609-252-4000.

Elliott Sigal has been named acting head of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s

Pharmaceutical Research Institute on Route 206. Sigal, the senior vice

president for global clinical and pharmaceutical development, has been

at B-MS since 1997. James Palmer, the company’s chief scientific

officer and president of the research institute, recently underwent

surgery, according to a spokesperson.

Dataram Corp. (DRAM), 186 Princeton-Hightstown Road,

Windsor Business Park, Building 2-A, Box 7528, Princeton 08543-7528.

Robert V. Tarantino, chairman and CEO. 609-799-0071; fax,


Lars Marcher, 42, is the new president and COO of Dataram, replacing

Robert V. Tarantino, who remains a full-time chairman and CEO. Marcher

has been executive vice president and COO for two years. He majored in

economics at the Aarhus School of Business, and he has an MBA and a

graduate degree from Macquarie Graduate School of Management in

Sydney, Australia.

Windsor Business Park is the global headquarters for Dataram.

Exide Technologies (XIDEW), 3150 Brunswick Pike,

Crossroads Corporate Center, Suite 230, Lawrenceville 08648. Craig

Muhlhauser, president and COO. 609-512-3000; fax, 609-512-3071. Home


President and CEO Craig H. Muhlhauser, CEO for three years, has

announced he will leave the company by next April "to pursue other

opportunities," according to a press release. A national search is

under way for his replacement. In May the company emerged from Chapter

11 bankruptcy.

J. Timothy Gargaro has just been appointed as executive vice president

and CFO. A graduate of the University of Detroit, he has an executive

MBA from Michigan State University and is a CPA. Gargara has more than

20 years experience with first tier suppliers to the automotive

industry, including a stint as CFO and executive vice president of

Oxford Automotive.

Exide makes industrial and automotive lead-acid batteries for major

retailers that include Kmart. Its batteries are also produced for golf

carts, farm equipment, boats and wheelchairs.

Top Of Page
Leaving Town

GAB Robins North America Inc., 3 Terry Lane, Suite 1,

Burlington 08016. Anthony Ruggieri, manager. 609-219-0500; fax,

609-219-9213. Home page:

The insurance services firm expanded from 6,000 square feet at 1009

Lenox Drive, Building 4, Suite 205, to 9,600 feet Burlington, and 42

people work here. Though the phones still work, there are also new

phone numbers. The lease had expired, and the company needed a bigger

showcase for its operations, says Jeanne Neufeld. Owned by Brera

Capital Partners, it is a processing office for casualty, workers’

compensation, and rehabilitation claims.

Top Of Page

Charged: Michele Goldsborough, formerly a paralegal at Buchanan

Ingersoll at Alexander Park, of identity theft and theft by

deceptions. Prosecutors say she used personal information from clients

to get $18,670 in loans.

Died: Dorothy K. Weingart, 76, on October 15. With her husband, she

founded Dewey’s upholstery shop in Princeton Junction.

Died: John E. Stoddard, 72, on October 17. An owner of Standardbred

horses, he was CEO of EDUSCO Service Corp. and worked at Wm Sword & Co

on Chambers Street.

Died: Harry "Hank" Strauss, on October 18. The third generation owner

of Harry Strauss & Sons, he founded Office Express Strauss.

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