Varun Singh Alumnus of the Year of the School of Electrical Engineering in 2016


The Alumnus of the Year chosen for the first time has done valuable work to promote Finnish start-up culture.

The School of Electrical Engineering of Aalto University has selected the first Alumnus of the Year of its history. Varun Singh was presented with the award at the Alumni&Student Weekend seminar on Saturday, 29 October.

‘I am a bit confused and very happy about the recognition received already at this stage of my career’, says Singh who earned his PhD in Technology in 2015.

He began his studies in the Master’s Degree programme in Communication Sciences in the Helsinki University of Technology in 2007 and graduated as MSc (Tech.). Singh continued into doctorate studies in communications under the supervision of Professor Jörg Ott. In autumn of 2016, his pioneering doctorate dissertation received an honorable mention by the ACM Special Interest Group on Multimedia (SIGGM), a community of experts and researchers in new generation multimedia technologies and applications.  

After earning his doctorate, Singh founded CALLSTATS I/O Oy with Professor Jörg Ott, Marcin Nagy and Shaohong Li. Ott and Nagy were also working and Li studying at the Department of Communications and Networking, to improve the quality of multimedia calls. The company develops analytics and optimisation service for WebRTC-based video conferences, and Singh is the company’s CEO. He studied the topic already in his dissertation and got international visibility to Aalto University not only through his research but also for his participation in IETF’s and W3C's standardisation work.

‘In our company there are currently 12 employees, and six of them have graduated from Aalto University,’ he says.

Entrepreneurship requires a lot of work

The enthusiasm to become an entrepreneur got a boost in 2009 when Singh participated in the founding stage of AaltoES, a student-led entrepreneurship community. He was active in the community’s core team for a couple of years and had an important role in the promotion of growth entrepreneurship among students.

‘Varun has done immeasurably valuable work for the promotion of information technology skills and startup culture. For students he is an excellent model of how to succeed in life with hard work and active engagement’, Jyri Hämäläinen, Dean of the School of Electrical Engineering, says.

‘I gladly tell about my experiences to students and share my knowledge and expertise around’, Singh points out.

He encourages others to follow the events and matters cropping up daily. If it seems that something does not work, it is worthwhile to try and figure out whether it would be possible to do that in a different manner, and, whether it could function as a business idea.

‘Once you have an idea, believe in it. At the first stage, it is important to consider whether the client understands your company’s idea and whether it meets the client’s needs. After this, build a well-functioning team.’

‘I myself have been lucky to have been able to gather a fantastic and competent team around. My thanks for the recognition is also meant for my team and company associates, and to people whom I have met during my career’, he expresses his gratitude.

More information:

News item from 16/09/2016: Varun Singh’s thesis received an honourable mention from SIGMM

News item from 25/09/2016: 2.7 million euros in funding to, a company that is aiming to improve the quality of multimedia calls

Photo: Mikko Raskinen / Aalto University