Alumnus at WebEnabled Brings a New Standard to Development Infrastructure
Salim Lakhani (SM ’09) and his classmates, Jarek Wilkiewicz (SM ’09), Philip Matuzic (SM ’09) and Ivetta Starikova (SM ’09) are growing their start-up company, WebEnabled, based on a project they started as students in the Software Management program at Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley. WebEnabled is an instant web development platform that allows developers to build and sell web applications.
With over 1000 users of the platform, including a large agency in Los Angeles, who are currently beta testing the application development and sharing components, Lakhani expects paying customers for the business within the next six months.
Lakhani received a bachelor’s degree in business and commerce from the University of California, Berkeley in 1990. He began working in Silicon Graphics and quickly proved his abilities and became the manager of technical services in 1992. His hobby in programming provided an opportunity to teach several classes, including several classes in UNIX at Foothill/DeAnza College. After numerous years of work in the software industry, Salim was interested in expanding his knowledge through educational opportunities. One of his colleagues, Dave Nugent (SM ’09), mentioned an interest in the Software Management degree at Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley and recommended that Salim look into it as well. He did, and they both entered the part time program in Fall 2007.
As if working and going back to school wasn’t enough, in the summer of 2008, Salim and his wife, May Chang, traveled to China to adopt their daughter, Abby. The trip took almost three weeks, in the midst of preparing for finals. Lakhani says of his team, “the guys in my class totally supported me during this time and I can’t thank them enough. We're blessed to have Abby!”
Salim also credits the support of the instructors at the Silicon Valley campus with helping a class project become a viable business plan. “Martin Radley provided extremely helpful coaching for our team. We were able to select a project that exposed us to analysis of similar business models and Martin offered his expertise and experience in solving complex project management, software development, infrastructure, delivery, and support issues, that greatly helped our team to focus efforts on creating a workable plan” says Lakhani.
Radley offers, "One of the privileges of my role as mentor at Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley is to watch very talented professionals such as Salim, Jarek, Philip and Ivetta meet as they work together to get their business idea off the ground and on a firm foundation. We faculty provide some direction, but it is students like Salim, Jarek, Philip and Ivetta who provide all the energy, enthusiasm and can-do attitude."
Even after graduation in August, the team met weekly to discuss issues pertaining to marketing their new business idea. Professor Stuart Evans often sat in on these meetings as well. Evans expounds, “The team had natural chemistry and were all enthusiastic about Salim's vision. Every member of the team asked piercing questions of all the venture capitalists and entrepreneurs who were our guest speakers in class. Salim's natural entrepreneurial aptitude was always tempered by a realism, seldom present in early-stage startups. His willingness to recalibrate and learn from the experiences and mistakes of others is indicative of his measured approach. Many entrepreneurs think that getting their first funding is their main objective, Salim realizes that this is just when the game begins. His natural aptitude for business is well augmented by his leadership capabilities and, most of all, his ability to sell his ideas with vigor.”
This August, along with his daughter, Abby, Salim proudly accepted his diploma. “I look forward to Abby getting her degree from Carnegie Mellon someday.”
What started as a pastime in programming, has grown into a passion for development and shows all the signs of changing the manner in which web developers create and share their applications with the world.