Meet our Founders:
Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande
Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande is the President and Chairman of Sparta Group LLC, a family investment office and is also the Chairman of Tejas Networks.
Dr. Deshpande has pursued an entrepreneurial career for the last three decades. He is involved either as the founder, a founding investor 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 lives in Boston and serves as a life-member of the MIT Corporation, and his support has made possible MIT’s Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation.
Leveraging the experience gained at the MIT Center, the Deshpande Foundation has facilitated the set up of three other centers; Deshpande Center for Social Entrepreneurship in India, Merrimack Valley Sandbox in Lowell/Lawrence Massachusetts and Pond-Deshpande Center at the University of New Brunswick in Canada.
Dr. Deshpande holds a B. Tech. in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology – Madras, an M.E. from the University of New Brunswick in Canada, and Ph.D from Queens University in Canada.
Deshpande co-chairs a National Council to support President Obama’s innovation and entrepreneurship strategy.
Jaishree Deshpande is the Treasurer of Sparta Group LLC, and a founder of the Deshpande Foundation. The Deshpande Foundation fosters social entrepreneurship by supporting a variety of non-profit organizations in India working in the areas of health, education, microcredit and agriculture. Jaishree and her husband supported the founding of The Deshpande Center at the MIT School of Engineering in 2002 to increase the impact of MIT technologies in the marketplace. She currently serves as a Trustee for the Museum of Science and is involved with HESTIA Fund – a fund established to support quality after school programming for low-income children.
Jaishree Deshpande worked for the Indian Space Research Organization in Bangalore, India until 1980 before moving to Canada. She worked for several Massachusetts companies and taught courses in computer science. She received a Master of Science in Physics in 1975 from the Indian Institute of Technologies (IIT), Madras, India. She also received a Master in Computer Science in 1989 from Boston University.
Gerry Pond has over 45 years of in-depth experience in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector. As the CEO of NBTel and the President of its successor, Aliant Telecom, he was at the helm during a period of significant deregulation in the Canadian industry. Under his innovative leadership, NBTel emerged as an international ICT leader.
Born in Quebec and raised in New Brunswick, Gerry Pond’s educational achievements include a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New Brunswick; Organizational Effectiveness Program, Harvard University; Executive Program, McGill University; and Senior Executive’s Program, University of Western Ontario.
Pond is the Chairman and Co-Founder of Mariner Partners Inc., and has co-founded a number of successful ICT start-ups in Atlantic Canada, including iMagicTV, Q1 Labs, Brovada Technologies, Radian6, Shift Energy and Cirrus9. He is also the Co-Founder of Propel ICT, a start-up accelerator, the Co-Founder of the Pond-Deshpande Centre at the University of New Brunswick, and the Co-Founder and Chairman of East Valley Ventures, an incubator for Atlantic Canadian start-up companies with a mission of helping passionate entrepreneurs launch meaningful and enduring technology companies.
Gerry Pond has received many honours, both regionally and nationally, including the prestigious 1997 Canadian Information Productivity Association (CIPA) Innovator of the Year and Hall of Fame, the NB Knowledge Industry Recognition and Achievement (KIRA) Awards Person of the Year in 2002, the 2003 Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, Atlantic Business Magazine’s Top 50 CEO Award in Atlantic Canada in 2003 and 2005, an Honorary Doctor of Letters from the University of New Brunswick, and an Honorary Doctor of Commerce from Saint Mary’s University.. For his tireless contribution to regional economic development, he was inducted into the New Brunswick Business Hall of Fame in October 2007.
An inspiring innovator and social entrepreneur, Gerry Pond also earned recognition as 2011 Canadian Angel of the Year from Techvibes & KPMG. In 2012, he received the 2012 Red Cross Humanitarian Award for New Brunswick. He was twice honoured in 2013, first by The Learning Partnership as a Champion of Public Education, and then as the recipient of the Order of New Brunswick for his innovative spirit and critical contribution to many of New Brunswick’s IT and telecommunications success stories. At the 2014 Canadian Startup Awards, Gerry Pond’s passion for supporting innovation and entrepreneurship was recognized with the prestigious WolfBlass Lifetime Achievement Award.
Most recently, he was awarded the first-ever Business Development Bank of Canada Entrepreneurship Champion – a national award that recognizes the achievement of a Canadian entrepreneur and community leader who has created and grown one or many successful small or medium-sized businesses while significantly contributing to the prosperity of the Canadian entrepreneurship ecosystem.