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
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
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
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."
Iyer, CEO. 609-734-9100. Home page: www.argea.com
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.
Washington Road, Princeton Junction 08550. Kevin Chung, president.
609-799-8896; fax, 609-799-9308. Home page: www.votetrakker.com
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.
Monmouth Junction, Anna Wojcik, president. 732-329-8087; 609-688-1894.
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.
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,
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.
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
Windsor Business Park is the global headquarters for Dataram.
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
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
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.
Burlington 08016. Anthony Ruggieri, manager. 609-219-0500; fax,
609-219-9213. Home page: www.gabrobinsna.com
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.
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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