Vistex Founder’s Journey

Sanjay Shah '89 MBA
Dean Phillips moderating the Gruhn lecture with Sanjay Shah '89 MBA.

Photo by Christa Neu

Sanjay Shah ’89 MBA featured in Gruhn lecture series.

This past October, tech entrepreneur, Sanjay Shah ’89 MBA, founder and CEO of enterprise software company Vistex, Inc. was on stage at Zoellner Arts Center for the 2022 Donald M. Gruhn ’49 Distinguished Finance Speakers Series. Georgette Chapman Phillips, the Kevin L. and Lisa A. Clayton Dean of the College of Business interviewed Shah about his career, his path to Lehigh and the potential for technology to cause harm.

For over two decades Vistex has assisted global companies such as Apple, Walmart, Viacom and Intel in improving revenue and margins.

Shah traces the inspiration for starting his company back to something one of his Lehigh Business professors said at the time, “Vision without execution is just daydreaming and execution without vision is just hard work. You need both.”

After a range of jobs from accounting to logistics, at companies including GM and SAP, Shah bootstrapped the founding of Vistex.

“I come from a family of accountants and traders where I was taught the importance of equity and ownership,” says Shah. “I thought I had the skill sets that were required to write the code, sell it, and deploy it. Call it exuberance or insanity. For about a year, I was just by myself trying to do everything.”

As for the pitfalls of technology, Shah says we need to not over rely on it. Vistex client list includes music publishers. He gave an example of how over-reliance on pure data could be harmful. Shah says, a publisher might say to their artists, with big data from trillions of streams and listener demographics, that they know exactly what consumers want to listen to. “That’s the harm,” says Shah. “Music is an emotional connection. There are things that can’t be put in a database of zeros and ones.”

Watch the Gruhn Lecture.