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The BCS/IET Turing Lecture 2013: The IET Turing Lecture 2013: What they didn't teach me: building a technology company and taking it to market

Suranga Chandratillake

From: The IET Prestige Lecture Series 2013, Turing Lecture, Savoy Place, London, 18 February 2013

18 February 2013  IT channel

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About the presentation

Armed with a good degree and interested in relatively esoteric extremes of Computer Science, Suranga Chandratillake was all set for an academic career. A combination of events conspired to take him down the industry route instead, and he found himself starting and running his own successful company.

In going through this process he realised just how little his (otherwise excellent) education had prepared him for the challenges of starting a company, building and marketing a product and growing an organisation.

Given the economic and social impact that such endeavour can have, Suranga asks what could be done to better equip those starting down this path today?

During this year's Turing Lecture, our speaker will cover the background to this 2000 decision and his experience of going into industry versus academia, beginning with Autonomy plc and later the founding and path to growth of his company, blinkx plc.

He will cover the technology developed at both companies including efforts to reduce complexity, increase customer-centricity and the unique challenges of building for consumers.

Suranga will also cover 'the rest': the importance of marketing and PR in the technology industry, raising capital, running an IPO and managing the human element (hiring, firing and cultivating people and a culture)

Turning from personal experiences, Suranga will reflect on why this route is important (including the significance of industry on technology progress and its impact on employment and national wealth) as well as how he learnt about things he didn't know before and touch on comparisons between UK and US university degrees.

He will briefly refer to 'Turing's World: the incredible, pervasive influence of computers on our lives' and conclude by sharing his thoughts on what more might be done to help create successful technology companies.

The Turing Trust
The Turing Trust is an African micro-development charity set up in 2009 to develop sustainable rural schools in Ghana.

We fundraise through our enthusiastic supporters in our local communities to help the schools and wonderful communities who have made such a strong impression on the founding members of the Turing Trust.

With all of this support we are able to make huge changes to the lives of the children we work with in Ghana. Since the Trust began we have enabled 20 extra students to gain an education each year by constructing a girls dormitory, we have built and furnished a computer lab enabling a whole community to access to the digital world, donated over £40,000 and 85 computers to our associated schools in Ghana and most importantly ensured that hundreds of students have been able to gain an education.

We believe that charity should be as transparent as possible whilst providing the maximum benefit for the minimum cost. For these reasons we regularly publish our most detailed accounts online and use the power of volunteering to keep our admin costs below 1% of our annual income.

To see the results of our policies of full disclosure please go to our finances web-page for more details. We hope that by providing such up front disclosure we might encourage other worthy charities to follow suit and join us in providing full disclosure to the philanthropic world.

We are always actively seeking old computers and equipment that we can use to provide computer facilities to as many rural schools in Ghana as possible. We are happy to come and collect in the UK at your convenience, wipe PCs to an industry standard and ship then ship them to Ghana.

We believe it should not cost anything to donate so charge you nothing and most importantly ensure our schools receive computers for free unlike many charities that are forced to charge for their services due to high administration costs.

If you have any old computers, or know of a business that might be changing their computers soon, that they might be able to donate we are happy to come and collect them at your convenience, wipe them to and industry standard and ship them to Ghana for you.

Some of the computers still in use in Ghana are from the early 1990's so any equipment you have would be of great use to us, so please get in touch via The Turing Trust website.

About the speaker

As a King's College Cambridge undergraduate Suranga Chandratillake edited Varsity, coxed the college 1st VIII eight, read Computer Science and was awarded a double first. He is the Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of blinkx plc, the Internet Video Search Engine company that he started in 2004, took public in 2007 and led as CEO until 2012.

Prior to blinkx, Suranga was Autonomy plc's US Chief Technology Officer and led the effort to enable Autonomy's software to work in highly distributed environments.

Suranga is a respected speaker and commentator on the overlap between technology and media and has been invited to speak at leading related events including the Financial Times' Digital Media Conference, the Cannes Lions International Festival and the Monaco Media Forum.

He is a silver medalist and Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the World Economic Forum has elected him as one of its Young Global Leaders.

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