DV Faces: Kishore Bhatia, Solution Architect Director & Venture CTO
“You can’t be too broad or learn too much. You have to always keep learning.”
This piece originally appeared on DV Pollen.
From product testing to front-end development to data science, engineers tackle challenges at their core. For Kishore Bhatia, problem solving has always come naturally. Growing up in India, he didn’t have a computer, so he built his own. This sparked a curiosity and hunger to tackle challenges at their core that has lasted long into his professional career.
“I just kind of stumbled upon how exciting hardware is by default. I was so fascinated with how the stream of physics worked that leads to creating a computer or a chip.”
Kishore was part of the first wave of people interested in the internet and computer networking. He took contracts from local cyber cafes and set up computer labs before going on to pursue degrees in computer science and electronics, all the while continuing to build switches and computers. He learned by teaching–first himself, and then as a mentor to others, passing on his knowledge of programming and hardware assembly.
“I started stumbling upon problems like ‘How do I get two offices’ computers to talk to each other?’ and ‘How do I get one labs’ computers to talk to each other?’ Things like this were such interesting problems to solve.”
After graduating, Kishore moved to India’s capital, Delhi, and kept dabbling in whatever new engineering trends he could get his hands on. People needed debugging, so he started debugging. People needed network services, so he did that too. He continued working on his own until 2000, when he joined Dell to support personal computers and network services. After that, he worked at a cyber warfare firm where he was first exposed to the idea of ‘security’ as a career.
“‘How do you build and destroy online economies? What does hacking mean? How do companies and governments prevent sabotage?’ These were the types of massive questions we were asking.”
In a debate that many young professionals find themselves in, Kishore was torn over whether or not to go back to school. He really wanted to get his PhD., but ultimately decided to accept a job offer at a U.S.-based company that did most of its work in the financial industry.
“That’s when I started to recognize that New York was the financial hub of the world. Taking that job was the first time I got exposed to a client-facing role, and from there on out I was always thinking about the broader organization: How do we build large systems at scale?”
Kishore went on to build the fastest cyber attack prediction and detection system in a very crowded market–something he says is one of his proudest moments in his career. This product ultimately led to the company’s acquisition by IBM.
By 2008, Kishore had already been the “hardware guy,” the “network guy” and the “security guy,” and he was ready for the next challenge. He noticed e-commerce was really starting to drive major industries and shifted his knowledge accordingly. He spent countless hours researching API and front-end development, looking at open-source code and reading Stack Overflow.
“I would try to write some code and it would work. But if I wrote it in 100 lines of code and someone else did it in 10 lines, I would go back and relearn it. Can I make it faster? Can I build it more efficiently?”
Kishore credits open source software as key to his success. “When it comes to open-source software, most people consume it rather than create it. But if it weren’t for this software (created by someone else) available to study and leverage, I definitely would not be where I am now.”
After a stint at JP Morgan Chase, Kishore was ready to move back into smaller companies, which gave him a true appreciation for each individual role. During this time, he stumbled across a white paper on Bitcoin which would end up driving his career in yet another direction.
“I really wasn’t that excited about the coin itself. But after seeing the movie ‘The Transcendents,’ which is essentially about how machines begin to take over the world, I put two and two together, and realized that this underlying technology–blockchain–was way more powerful than people were giving it credit for. The architecture of the network itself was virtually indestructible.”
It took Kishore two years of dabbling in the tech, networking and meeting the “who’s who” in New York’s early blockchain community before he moved full time into the space, taking a job at Blockapps in early 2017. Soon after, he was teaching an Ethereum and smart contract workshop when someone mentioned the DV hackathon to him, which was focused on building decentralized applications (dApps).
Kishore didn’t think he would get in, but decided to go for it the night before the deadline. He wanted the opportunity to meet people who’d also worked in the industry and created real solutions. And, most of his blockchain experience was on the developer tools side, but he knew he needed to focus on making his solutions more human-centric and user friendly.
As you may have guessed, Kishore did get into the hackathon, joining a team with complementary skill sets, including a product manager, a UX designer and a serial entrepreneur. To his surprise, this was definitely not your generic hackathon. “There weren’t just engineers; it was exciting to ask ourselves if we could not only hack together some technology, but also build a business around it.”
Needless to say, the judges were impressed by Kishore’s expertise and he was extended a job offer after the hackathon. He now works as a Venture CTO and Solutions Architect Director in our New York Center and returned to DV Hacks: Mobility as a coach. Since joining DV, Kishore has competed in three additional hackathons, making it his personal mission to get people excited about building new things with their “magic time.”
“Often times we think about winning in the short term. Even if you don’t go home with a prize from the hackathon, you get access to new communities and you fuel the idea of ‘newness’ that then gets brought back to work. If you’re on a venture for six months, you need to keep your thought process fresh with ideas.”
Kishore’s advice for entrepreneurs?
“You can’t be too broad or learn too much. Be a T-shaped person; the horizontal line gives you empathy, the depth gives you the credibility in your space. You have to always keep learning. ”