The semiconductor industry is on a rapid growth trajectory, with a goal of becoming a $1 trillion industry by 2030 – that’s only 8 years away! Getting there will require a tremendous amount of innovation, investment, and risk-taking – all characteristics that define an entrepreneur. But what does it really mean to be an entrepreneur in the semiconductor industry?
To find out, I visited our 3D inCites community member, CyberOptics Corporation, a global developer and manufacturer of high-precision 3D sensing technology solutions. The company’s president and CEO, Dr. Subodh Kulkarni, was recently named a finalist for the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of The Year® 2022 Heartland Award. This is one of the preeminent competitive business awards for entrepreneurs and leaders of high-growth companies who think big to succeed.
Generally, we think of entrepreneurs as those who invest in startups. While Kulkarni has been involved in a start-up, he has been a director of CyberOptics since 2009. He became President and CEO in February 2014.
Kulkarni says while he doesn’t really consider himself an entrepreneur, he does have an entrepreneurial spirit that he applies to his leadership style. He describes entrepreneurs as resilient, always looking for solutions, and accepting failure as an opportunity for growth.
His advice: don’t give up easily. And it’s important to know what you’re good at and find people to fill in where you’re not.
He brings a hands-on approach to CyberOptics, preferring to walk the halls and get to know his team members one-on-one and through company social events, versus big meetings. He credits the family-like, inclusive company culture for the diverse employee base and a low attrition rate of 3%.
CyberOptics sensor technology is used in inline inspection equipment as well as inspection of wafer processing tools. After our chat, we took a tour of the CyberOptics facility (photos below). where all the magic happens – from sensor technology development to module and tool manufacturing. I was pleased to learn that one of CyberOptic’s key OEM customers is KLA – also a member of the 3D InCites Community.
Regional award winners for the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of The Year® 2022 Award will be announced on June 9, 2022. If Dr. Kilkarni wins, he’ll be considered by the National independent judging panel and National awards in November. Winners of the national awards move on to compete for the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Award in June 2023.
For the full interview with all the juicy details, listen to the podcast episode.