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Founder Profile: Bob Schena

Having had so much success cultivating visionary technology companies, you could imagine that Bob Schena might is not the kind of guy that starts over.
Yet, that’s exactly what he decided to do in the early stages of Rajant Corporation, a 12 year-old growing company that is responsible for Kinetic Mesh Networking used by the U.S. military, first responders and others that require scalable broadband connectivity.
“Two years into its initial development phase we realized that the mesh algorithm they were working with did not permit the desired levels of mobility and scalability – to allow all network nodes to be in motion at any time,” recalls Schena. “The decision was made to pursue a new development path.”
Starting from scratch meant more fund-raising and more time waiting for revenue, but the vision of Kinetic Mesh Networking, a new breed of mesh technology, wouldn’t be truly achieved without being scalable and able to handle application traffic.  
It would take two years, but Schena was used to big challenges. He co-founded Airclic Inc., which was eventually acquired by Motorola and Symbol Technologies, and also was among the founders of Gigabit Ethernet company World Wide Packets. He is also not afraid to take a stand, successfully challenging U.S. telecommunications regulations in 2004 and obtaining the first FCC license for broadband services deliver in the U.S. from a Canadian satellite. He was also the first to obtain an FCC license to provide an Open Video System soon after the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
Rajant’s 2011 revenue was up 62 percent over 2010 and it has proven flexible enough to address the rapidly developing technical challenges the industry and the company’s customers face.
What was the inspiration behind Rajant?
Rajant Corporation was established in October 2001, when we (founders Robert Schena and Paul Hellhake) identified significant shortcomings in traditional wireless mesh networks.  The nation had suffered the worst domestic terrorist assault in history, and we recognized the inherent weaknesses in the mobile voice and data networks used by first responders.  
What resources did you take advantage of to launch Rajant?
We won a patent lawsuit and utilized those proceeds to help fundraising efforts.
What resources did you take advantage of to grow Rajant?
We received proceeds from Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania and were able to pay those back.
What key partnerships in your region or state have helped Rajant grow?
Earlier this year, I accompanied Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett on a European Trade Mission to France and Germany. The purpose of the mission was to focus on connecting Pennsylvania companies with potential export partners and encouraging international businesses to invest in the commonwealth. 
Where does your region need to improve in terms of support for entrepreneurs?
This is a great question.  As someone who travels all around the country, culturally in this area, failure is more difficult here. It is perceived more differently on the west coast.  I think from a financing perspective, this region is under financed.  I think this region is more risk averse than other areas of the country and that is reflected ultimately in having less early-stage venture capital available.
What’s the big differentiator for Rajant in such a crowded industry?
Unlike traditional mesh networking technologies, Rajant enables all network nodes to be in motion all the time, all clients to move all the time, and all application data to use any radio necessary to reach its destination – anywhere on the network. Through the combination of Rajant BreadCrumb wireless network nodes and proprietary InstaMesh routing software, Kinetic Mesh networks are easily established to support hundreds of moving nodes – whether those nodes are on mining equipment or trucks in a military convoy.  And, unlike traditional mesh networks, Kinetic Mesh networks actually grow stronger and more robust as nodes are added. 
What’s next for Rajant? 
As the number of industries that can benefit from the flexibility and scalability of Rajant’s Kinetic Mesh Networking technology grows, we anticipate broad adoption of our solutions. Today, we are busy keeping with pace with demand in the mining and military arenas, and focusing resources on the oil and gas industries. We’re also working closely with the railroad industry, which is increasingly reliant on wireless networking to keep the nation’s freight lines running at peak efficiency.  In addition to expanding our focus and getting new networks up and running, Rajant continues its torrid pace of innovation.  We recently introduced new BreadCrumb network node models and just rolled out a new release of our InstaMesh routing technology.  In the second quarter, we’re planning to launch a modular based product that will allow customers to add new technology, new frequencies, new security protocols, etc. as they become available without having to swap out technology as a whole.
— by Joe Petrucci
400 E. King St. Malvern, PA 19355

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