Geek of the Week: Sanjit Biswas, CEO of Samsara

“Samsara” is a Sanskrit word that translates loosely into English as “the eternal cycle of birth and death.” The company was founded by Sanjit Biswas and his friend and co-worker John Bicket, both former founders of cloud networking provider Meraki. Sanjit saw the exploding popularity of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and decided to figure out how to best fit into the growing scheme of things. The result was Samsara, a global IoT platform that focuses on industrial IoT. The system combines analytics, artificial intelligence, and real-time insights along with hardware and software to offer a complete interface package to businesses.

Sanjit and John met while studying at MIT. Both of them were Ph.D. students that had a dream to bring free WiFi to Cambridge, Massachusetts. The result was the pair’s first stab at a business in the form of Meraki. This first business grew and took on a life of its own, eventually being acquired by Cisco in 2012 for $1.2 billion. From the creation of Meraki, Sanjit learned simple methods of combining software, hardware, and the cloud into integrated systems. He also noted a distinct lack of similar systems dedicated to the industrial world. Samsara was Sanjit’s attempt to change this.

Sanjit’s focus in developing Samsara was helping industries such as transportation, manufacturing, and construction. The company’s business model is based on selling both its hardware and a subscription-based service that companies can use to keep track of their assets. By leveraging IoT devices, the software keeps track of a large number of variables and offers insights by drilling down into the vast amounts of data the tools collect. It’s interesting to see Sanjit’s journey up to this point.

Sanjit started his journey to being a prolific founder of tech startups with a BS in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from Stanford University. He then proceeded to do his MSc in Computer science and, finally, his Ph.D. at MIT, although he never completed this final degree and is currently on leave. After Cisco acquired Meraki in 2012, Sanjit agreed to stay on with the company and increased its revenue to $500M a year before the founding of Samsara. Today, Samsara is an impressive startup that has seen a massive level of growth in recent months. The company’s series F funding round valued it at a whopping $6.3 billion. Not bad for being just thirty-seven years of age.

What sets Samsara apart as a company is more than its technology, however. Samsara is extremely people-oriented, both concerning their customers as well as their employees. Sanjit likes to be approachable and engage with his staff, as he sees them as crucial to Samsara’s continued success. He’s even made it his business to free up his schedule so that he can hang out in the company’s lunchroom, or engage in conversation with any member of staff. He states that “the informal interactions are in many ways more important for the company over time than the big formal meetings.” Sanjit is one of the unique CEOs that you’ll find heading a startup, and Samsara under his leadership seems to be set for a meteoric rise.