Ranjith Kumaran is the founder and chief technology officer for YouSendIt. Prior to YouSendIt, Kumaran held marketing positions at Verisity Design, and he was the director of sales engineering at Celoxica. He has also worked as a software systems engineer at Red Hat. Kumaran received a bachelor of engineering degree in computer engineering from McGill University and is an active member of TiE Silicon Valley.
SM: Ranjith, tell me about yourself. Where does your story begin?
RK: I was born in England. My father was there doing his PhD in physical chemistry. I was only there for about a year, but I am still pulling for England in the World Cup. My first memories are in India. My father was a college professor who taught chemistry. We left India when I was five or six, when my father got a teaching assignment in New Zealand. We spent about two years there before moving to Canada when I was eight. I stayed there up until 10 years ago when I moved to Silicon Valley.
SM: Where did you go to college?
RK: I went to McGill University and studied computer engineering. My first gig out of college was with Red Hat. I did development there, but I really found that I enjoyed the customer side of the business. When Motorola or Intel would come out with a new microprocessor, they would call us and tell us they needed a compiler, debugger, or something of that level. I really liked sitting down with the customer teams and figuring out exactly what their requirements were.
I spent a couple of years with Red Hat before I left to come to Silicon Valley for an English startup out of Oxford. The company was Celoxica, and I joined them to do sales engineering on their international team. That was the first team that the YouSendIt concept came up. I was constantly working to manage a team of 11 engineers all over the globe and had to transfer product demos all over the world.
SM: What year was that?
RK: I moved here in 2000 and stayed there through 2003. I moved on to work in product marketing and stayed there for a year at another local startup. The work was easy and paid a lot. We got acquired six months after I got there. There was a lot of sizing up who my new boss was going to be and what my role was going to be. On nights and weekends, I got together with some folks I had worked with at the previous company where we kicked around some ideas. YouSendIt was one of the ideas we were kicking around.
We got around to putting up a demo site. There were not many blogs back then, but we went to message boards and posted notes telling people about a new large file transfer system which was completely free to use and asked people for their feedback. Within a few months we had hundreds of thousands of people using it.