Panel Discussion: “Big Data:  Evolving Value”



Usha Viswanathan

Starnik Systems
Founder & President


Usha Viswanathan is Co-Founder and President of Starnik, a software company that has disrupted both the utility billing and energy management industries with a single cloud based solution. With a small but passionate team, Starnik uses lean startup principles to build, distribute, and support a powerful product that has optimized billing operations, cut down onboarding time, and significantly reduced costs to customers. Through Starnik’s software, over $740 million in utility bills are delivered annually across the US and in Australia and Europe. With Starnik, Viswanathan’s mission is to continue to innovate in this industry using the power of technology to ultimately help conserve precious resources such as water and electricity.

Prior to founding Starnik, Viswanathan was a CPA at Ernst & Young in San Diego and later at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Chicago. Viswanathan was one of the top 100 scorers in the CPA exam in the United States and holds an MS in Management Information Systems from Texas Tech University.

ons and Research Associates (SARA) team on the Department of Defense (DOD) Defense Threat Reduction Agency projects.



Victor M. Abelairas

Senior Director, Business Development


Victor Abelairas is currently Senior Director, Business Development for Wind River, a wholly owned subsidiary of Intel. In this role, Victor is focused on championing the vertical strategy for Industrial Markets, including IoT. He helps to define the products and services that enable his customers to extract the business value hidden behind machine data.

Prior to joining Wind River, Victor was the Director of Commercial Excellence for GE Intelligent Platforms, where he had global responsibility for leading sales and commercial operations across the organization. He managed five Commercial CoE’s including Inside Sales, Training, Commercial Process, Variable Incentive Compensation and Channel Operations.

Victor started his career with General Electric in 2002, where he held consecutive sales roles in various Energy business units. In 2009, he transitioned to Operations as the P&L leader for Technical Services within GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy. In this role, he had the unique responsibility of leading the nuclear Emergency Command Center Technical Operations in support of the relief efforts for the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami events.

Victor holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Florida and a Master’s of Business Administration from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. He is an avid traveler and enjoys outdoor activities, including cycling and snowboarding. Victor and his wife, Anna, are located in Atlanta, GA.



Amir Husain

Founder & CEO


Amir Husain is a serial entrepreneur and inventor based in Austin, Texas. He serves as an advisor to IBM for its Watson cognitive computing platform and is the Founder & CEO of SparkCognition, Inc. an award-winning Machine Learning/AI driven Cognitive Analytics Company. SparkCognition was launched with backing from Michael Dell’s MSD Capital, L.P., TEF CA, and other leading investors. In June, 2014, SparkCognition won the global IBM InnovateApp 2014 competition for the most innovative ecosystem application of 2014.

Amir is a prolific inventor with 13 awarded and over 40 pending US patent applications to his credit. He has founded and/or led several technology startups, including Kurion, infraManage, ClearCube and VDIworks. In 2013, a low cost computing platform Amir invented was inducted into the collection of the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, the world’s largest such institution. His work has also been published in IEEE conferences and in leading tech journals including Network World, Computer World and others. His companies have won numerous awards, such as the InnovateApp 2014 competition, the VMWORLD Gold award, Network World’s Hottest Products, CRN’s Innovation award and PC World’s best product award. Amir currently serves as President & CEO of SparkCognition and as advisor and board member to ClearCube, VDIworks, AM Networks and others.



Alex Pratt

Auto Grid Systems
Director of Strategic Accounts


Alex is the director of strategic accounts at AutoGrid Systems, where he heads utility engagement for many of the data analytics solutions offered by AutoGrid. He works closely with AutoGrid’s largest domestic utility customers and his role includes assembling a cross-disciplinary team to define, implement, and manage early stage applications for Autogrid’s Energy Data Platform. In this capacity he has been central to the development of new solutions around peak demand management, customer segmentation, and distribution grid maintenance, among others. Alex has a background in leading high-performance teams as well as bringing a broad spectrum of resources to bear in order to solve complex problems in dynamic environments. Before joining AutoGrid, Alex served as an officer in the US Navy SEAL teams and subsequently earned an MBA and MS from Stanford University. He also holds a BSE in Civil Engineering from Duke University.



Mark Harral



Mark Harral’s introduction to renewable energy was negotiating a wind lease with BP to deploy thirty-four 2.5MW wind turbines in Pecos County, Texas. Subsequently, Texas Tech University employed Mr. Harral to develop an organizational structure for a testing and certification site at a former Air Force base – the Reese Technology Center in Lubbock, Texas.

The organizational structure was implemented by Texas Tech to create The National Institute for Renewable Energy with a for-profit wholly owned subsidiary known as Group NIRE. This structure enabled Alstom Power Inc. to deploy a 1.67MW Eco 86 wind turbine at the Reese Technology Center. The testing and certification site has continued to expand to include a 1MW/hr Utility-Scale Battery, Gamesa’s G114 2MW Prototype, as well as the DOE-SNL Scaled Wind Farm Technology Facility initiative. Mr. Harral oversaw project development, construction and management activities for the majority of the site. Mr. Harral has developed a commercial 80MW wind farm and negotiated the sale of the asset to a leading owner/operator of wind farms in the United States.

Since May 2013, Mr. Harral has served as the CEO of Group NIRE. He also serves as an expert witness in wind energy litigation cases. To date, Mr. Harral has testified in arbitration cases concerning warranty disputes between manufacturers and owners with over $90M in disputes. Mr. Harral graduated from Texas Tech School of Law with a Doctorate of Jurisprudence after receiving a B.B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin.




TIME:  11:00 AM – NOON


Summary Coming Soon.