TiE Entrepreneurial Summit – Day 1 Highlights

[Guest post by Nithya Dayal – she shares some of the highlights of TES 2008 (Day 1) ]

TiE Entrepreneurship summit 2008 kicked off today at Hotel Lalit Ashoka in Bangalore. The event witnessed a huge crowd of about 2000 people on the inaugural day. TES 2008 has 135+ speakers across 43 sessions, 13 plenary sessions, 32 panel discussions and 8 inspiring “My story” sessions. There are also one to one and many to one mentoring sessions on all three days of the event.

Pre Morning Tea

The event started with an address from Mr. Pradeep Kar, President TiE Bangalore where he gave an overview of the conference and welcomed the guests and speakers. Next on stage was Mr. Azeem Premji where he recollected the history of Wipro and his journey as an entrepreneur. According to him, though the entrepreneur in a person sparks off for reasons like making big money, what really differentiates a true successful entrepreneur from others is his committment to the idea in terms of time and the passion to make the business and idea successful.
As he aptly put it, it wasn’t without myriad challenges that he turned a $4 Million commodity business into a $6 Billion business with diverse portfolios. In short, the journey could have not been all successes. There were enough challenges and failures and he believes that only failures can teach real lessons while successes can give one the confidence to persevere.

After Mr Premji, Professor C.K. Prahalad addressed the audience and talked about democratizing entrepreneurship. He talked about the social obligation of entrepreneurs and how entrepreneurs should help in wealth creation. This was followed by a report on the ecosystem by Mr. Pradip Kanakia, National Head of Markets, KPMG.

Post Morning Tea

Post morning tea, there were three parallel My Story Sessions, where seasoned entrepreneurs talked about their journey. I attended the one by Mr. K Ganesh, the founder and CEO of Tutor Vista. Tutor Vista is Ganesh’s fourth startup and he has three successful exits behind him. One interesting thing about Ganesh is he has always started a business for which he had to create a market. And hence his challenges are always doubled – the typical challenges of starting up with the extra challenge of creating a market. His reason for that was simple. He wanted to create a business where there was a high barrier for entry.
Having been a serial entrepreneur, Ganesh has often been bombarded with questions like why should one start-up, if one should start only with venture capital or is it best to bootstrap and similar other questions. As he says, answers for most of these questions depend on the opportunity cost, at what stage of the career and business one is in and so on.

Ganesh’s first company was bootstrapped and it took him almost eight years to take it public. And within the first year of starting-up the company, the market for it dried out and they had to diversify and iterate with numerous business plans. ( The business was annual maintenance contracts for computers and the business opportunity dwindled owing to more reliable computers coming into the market with almost 3 yr warranties ). He still has challenges with Tutor vista, but as we all know, this is one person who derives his daily dose of adrenalin from his start-up and knows how commit enough to take an idea to success.

Post Lunch

Post lunch I attended two panel discussions. The first one was Idea – But do you have a business moderated by Mr. Sanjay Anandram of JumpstartUp. The panelists were Mr. Phanindra Sama, CEO and Co-Founder RedBus, Mr Jay Gupta of Lootstreet, Mr Kiran Nadakarni, Founder and CEO East West Ethnic Foods Pvt Ltd and Mr. Devdutt Yellurkar, Partner at Charles River Ventures. The discussion revolved around the basics of taking an idea and turning it into a business, the importance of having sufficient cash and about experiences that all the panelists have had while running their own businesses. There was also some discussion on scalability of an idea etc.

The second panel that I attended was What do we look for? An Early Stage VC Perspective moderated by Mr Pravin Gandhi of Seedfund. The panelists were Dr Rajesh Srivathsa of Ojas Ventures, Mr Subrata Mitra of Accel, Mr Ashish Gupta of Helion Ventures and Mr Suresh Shanmugham of SVB Capital.
The session was mostly on demistyifying VC terminology. Such as what do VCs mean when they say they want a good team (they want people who can run their company with minimal support from outside and can manage people etc: Subrata) or when they say they are looking for a good idea ( The cost of translating an idea to product and acquiring customers for it should be less than what the customers are willing to pay: Rajesh).
Other than talking about what VCs want from entrepreneurs, Ashish also talked about what entrepreneurs should and should not expect from the the VCs. For example, the entrepreneurs should not expect the VCs to help them with operational issues on a day to day basis. VCs are there to provide guidance. Also the entrepreneur should make sure that the VC is comfortable with entrepreneur’s vision (for example on time taken to generate revenue in a business where building technology takes time).

Unfortunately we had to leave for the day after this panel discussion and so could not attend the rest of the event.

Post this panel there were three more parallel panel disucussions to be followed by a CNBC TV18 special panel discussion, an address by Dr Vijay Mallya, and concluding with some entertainment and Dinner.

Update from Ashish:

Quote from Azim Premji
Invest all money, time and effort – so that, there is no easy exit barrier – successful entrepreneurs do not have easy exit barriers

Hush-hush talk:
C K Prahalad, for some reasons mentioned Airtel as a BoP (bottom of pyramid) company – well, this can only be true if the pyramid is turned upside down 😀

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