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Three years ago, Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Dhiraj Sharan, decided to start a company, Query.Ai, to help midsize to large companies protect themselves from cybersecurity threats. Little did he know that this business would be located in Brookings, South Dakota.

Through the GOED, Sharan also received support through the Dakota Seeds Program, which provides matching funds for interns, and the Proof of Concept Fund, which supports research to demonstrate the feasibility of innovations on the path to commercialization.

“I feel being in South Dakota is a great advantage,” Sharan explained, citing lower operating costs. He also sees being “centered between two coasts in a Central time zone” as advantageous.

Query.Ai uses faculty expertise in artificial intelligence and machine learning with assistant professor Semhar Michael of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics serving as an adviser. To fulfill the need for experienced senior engineers and professionals, Query.AI also has an engineering team in Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India.

“For students graduating in computer science, we want to be the company where they come for internships first,” Sharan said. The demand for cybersecurity professionals is increasing dramatically with an estimated 3.5 million shortfall in the workforce worldwide by 2021. “This can be a springboard to a very nice career.”

South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development

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