Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande is a venture capitalist and entrepreneur born in Hubli, Karnataka, India. He holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, an MEng in Electrical Engineering from the University of New Brunswick, and PhD in Data Communications from Queens University, Kingston.
Although an engineer by training, he is most often considered a “serial entrepreneur”, and has pursued an entrepreneurial career for the past three decades. He is the founder, founding investor and/or chairman of several companies, including Cascade Communications, Sycamore Networks, Coral Networks, Tejas Networks, Cimaron, Webdialogs, Airvana, Sandstone Capital, A123 Systems and Curata.
Dr. Deshpande began his engineering career in Canada at the Motorola Corporation before moving to the U.S. in 1984. In 1990, he co-founded Cascade Communications, a company that played a key role in the infancy of the internet, before selling the company in 1997. Dr. Deshpande went on to found Sycamore Networks and is currently President and Chairman of Sparta Group LLC.
Dr. Deshpande serves as a life-member of the MIT Corporation, and his generous donations are behind the creation of the Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation at MIT. Leveraging the experience gained there, the Deshpande Foundation has supported the work of hundreds of emerging entrepreneurs by setting up three other centers: the Deshpande Center for Social Entrepreneurship in India, the Merrimack Valley Social Entrepreneurship Sandbox in Massachusetts and the Pond-Deshpande Center at the University of New Brunswick.
In addition, Dr. Deshpande chairs Akshaya Patra USA, which raises awareness and funds for Akshaya Patra in India, a secular non-profit organization that simultaneously addresses childhood hunger and promotes education for over 1.3 million underserved children in India.
Dr. Deshpande also co-chairs a U.S. National Council to support President Obama's innovation and entrepreneurship strategy.