Ghanaian immigrant Abe Ankumah had never worked on a computer before enrolling in college at California Institute of Technology — now he runs data computing firm Nyansa.
"Looking back at it, it's crazy and also pretty humbling," Ankumah told Fortt Knox for CNBC. "[The] first time, freshman year at Cal Tech, I had to get exposed to computers, and I guess as they say the rest is history."
Nyansa tracks network data, allowing businesses to troubleshoot issues and improve performance on client devices.
Ankumah says he first studied the "underpinnings of technology" as a high school student at an all-boys boarding school in Ghana — all without access to computers.
"I showed up at Cal Tech with other kids who had been using computers when they were 5 ... who had been building their own video games at a much younger age," he said. "Literally the first time I got my hands on a computer and I had to actually sort of go through my first programming exercise, it was all about, OK how does this work, and really sort of peeling that onion."
Ankumah added a computer science major to his electrical engineering studies because, as he says, he wanted to get his hands dirty in understanding how computers worked.
In 2013, he founded the Palo Alto-based Nyansa alongside CTO Anand Srinivas and VP of Engineering Daniel Kan.
It counts roughly 30 employees, raised $15 million in Series B funding from a round closed in January, and has more than 300,000 devices under constant review.
Nyansa's clients include Tesla, Uber, Proctor and Gamble and the International Red Cross.
"Think about what Google Analytics does for websites — we do that for computer networks," Ankumah said. "We basically take data that is riding over computer networks and surface a bunch of different insights that are used for business purposes."
The company works to make network analytics reports simple and readable, an effort reminiscent of Ankumah's early education with only the fundamentals of technology to build on.
"Every device connected to an enterprise computer network, we monitor that device in real time, all the time, over time," he said. "When issues happen, we actually translate that in plain English for the IT operations teams to actually go triage and solve those problems."