Dr. Nikhil Handigol

Dr. Nikhil Handigol

Dr. Handigol is an IIT Madras alumnus who went to Stanford University for his PhD. At Stanford, he did some ground breaking work in networking technologies. It is there that he faced several problems like managing large data systems and decided to solve it for himself and others as well. He got together with three other Stanford alumni – David Erickson, Brandon Heller and Peyman Kazemian – and founded Forward Networks in 2013.

Forward Networks has been a strong venture since the very beginning. Under the guidance of 4 brilliant minds, the company gained series-A funding from top notch VCs within a year. With 6 employees, Dr. Handigol and his team set up their first office in Palo Alto in 2015. At Forward Networks, the team has created technology to make the world’s networks more agile, predictable, and secure. This breakthrough technology is called the ‘digital twin’ of the network. According to him, the biggest business achievement for the company has been to use technological innovation to solve a major business problem. In the process, the company has been able to change the practice of building and operating large complex networks that are the lifeblood of modern businesses. In simple words, Dr. Handigol and his team want to automate away the human-error factor that causes network outages and security vulnerabilities.


Dr. Handigol likes to run a tight ship but one that is transparent. His method of leading a venture is to trust his teammates. A firm believer in the adage ‘trust and delegate,’ he puts his energy into hiring the best team members, training them diligently and then trusting them to work with autonomy. He prefers to have an open interaction-based ecosystem that is honest and respectful. It is tricky for any leader to consider everyone’s point of view during any discussion and move forward. Dr. Handigol usually tackles this by leading discussions and keeping them centred around the agenda. Sometimes people’s personalities get in the way, and these discussions can take unproductive turns. Dr. Handigol prefers to keep the discussions focused on data, a tactic which naturally leads to efficient discussions and the right outcomes. He has tried to build this culture of open communication all throughout Forward Networks.


Technology is an integral part of everything today. As a society, we are heavily dependent on technology for our day-to-day routines. Dr. Handigol echoes this sentiment and feels inspired when he sees technology improving society. In particular, the entrepreneur has been inspired by the role that the Internet has played in connecting people and businesses across the globe. It is nothing short of a miracle that despite a raging global pandemic that forced people to stay home, the world largely continued to function. He feels it is only because of the internet that employees could work from home, students could attend classes virtually, and friends and family could stay in touch and support each other. This irreplaceable role of technology is what drove him in the first place to pursue a PhD with a research focus on computer networking. It helped him to eventually co-found a company to make the networks of the world more agile, predictable, and secure to meet the needs of the future. Dr. Handigol has a clear vision regarding his firm. He wants to be what Google is to the internet. The leader envisions Forward Networks to be an indispensable part of networking and hopes to see a world where robust and secure networks enable a better society.