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5 Things We Learned About Aruba Co-Founder Keerti Melkote

Keerti Melkote sees the U.S. as a magnet for the world's best and brightest, a land of almost boundless educational and entrepreneurial opportunity. A policy of limited immigration compromises that position as the world's other economies gain the footing necessary to compete with the U.S. for talent, he says.

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He's taking on Cisco, and sees Aruba's culture as its most significant differentiator.

Raising money to start Aruba, Melkote heard more than his share of doubt. "When I went to Silicon Valley in 2002 to raise money for the company, these are all smart people who asked, 'Why won't Cisco crush you? What's your sustainable differentiator over the long haul?," he said. Today, HPE Aruba is putting significant pressure on Cisco, and Melkote says the key difference between his company and Cisco is culture.

"We, by necessity, were very customer-focused," he said. "I can think of technologies in my head, but if the customer doesn’t embrace it, it doesn’t matter. The way the organization works top down is 'customer first, customer last.' It's built into the DNA of company and our partners who have been with us know it and experience it. Being humble and being hungry and being able to listen to what customers' needs are and responding with solutions leads to good outcomes, so I think the soft aspect of that is as important as the hard aspect."

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