CERRITOS, CA – The Indus Entrepreneurs annual conference TiECon Southwest 2013 drew around 400 attendees to the Sheraton here on Nov 9. The mega day–long event, a joint collaboration with TiE SoCal, TiE Phoenix, TiE Rockies and TiE Nevada was abuzz with activity offering huge opportunities for networking with peers, experts, entrepreneurs and investors.
Shankar Ram, Chair, TiECon threw the event open welcoming all followed by TiE SoCal President Vijay Kotrappa who began by giving a brief history of TiE and its primary goal of fostering entrepreneurship and went on to give three...
Moving on he focused on startups informing that a million new businesses get launched every year of which 1000 are venture backed. But they are an anomaly that can safely be ignored. “You do not need money to get a business of the ground,” he underscored counter intuitively.
The secret he revealed is the “second job” which can be the startup. He recounted how in 1990, when just 25 years old, he worked on his startup for 2 to 3 hours in the morning before heading off for his regular job, and then for a few hours in the evening. Facetiously, he said his VCs were Visa and Master card which were later replaced by a low cost line of credit. Four years on it was among the Inc. 500 Companies! “You can walk and chew gum at the same time,”
INTERESTING SPEECHES MARK TIECON 2013
“After reaching the peak, give back to the less fortunate and change the world for a few hundred,” he said adding that this is what led to the birth of Dakshana Foundation which is focused on providing world-class educational opportunities to economically and socially disadvantaged gifted children from rural India preparing them for admission into the IITs.
He said 80 percent of kids given coaching have been accepted into IIT which is an incredible ROI.
Dakshana has send 457 impoverished kids to IITs since 2007 and in 2013 has accepted 434 new scholars. Dakshana’s vision is to send 2020 kids to IITs by the year 2020 so that 1 in every 7 IITian will be the son or daughter of an impoverished rural labourer.
Pabrai has a very hands-on approach to his work with Dakshana, not just merely supporting the effort financially but being a very integral part of it, making several trips to rural India and spending many days in not the best of conditions and environments , to help the less fortunate, which is truly inspiring.
With a flattering introduction by Navneet Chugh, Board Member, TiE Global, the next keynote was Anita Raghavan, who spend 18 years at the Wall Street Journal and is currently contributing correspondent to the New York Times’ Dealbook. Raghavan made a pitch for her latest book “The Billionaire’s Apprentice:The rise of The Indian-American Elite and The fall of The Galleon Hedge Fund.” She read excerpts from her book by way of throwing light on the meteoric rise of Indian-Americans as a force to reckon with in the world of business and entrepreneurship and the downfall of Mckinsey’s Rajat Gupta. The book is a riveting account of the fall of Galleon’s Raj Rajaratnam in the federal government unraveling of the insider trading ring who brought down along with him Indian-Americans like Gupta and Anil Kumar who ironically were prosecuted by another Indian-American Preet Bharara, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Rhagavan said she is often asked why she chose to write a book that shines an uncomfortable spotlight on Indian talent, with 3.2 million Indians currently in the US, 70 percent of whom have a Bachelor’s degree with a median household income of $88 K. The book also focuses on her personal story describing how in 1958 her dad boarded a ship from Cochin braving a two-month long journey by sea to reach the US to study botany, which he finally did at Princeton.
Raghavan bemoaned the fact that the fallout of the Galleon Hedge Fund episode is that prejudices are creeping back in the US about corruption in India where moral compromise and lying are seen as an Indian way of life. Every Indian at McKinsey now sits under a cloud. Raghavan had a book signing session during the break.
Keynote Jai Khanna was introduced by TiE SoCal President incumbent Toni DasGupta. Khanna is in film financing and a 15 year veteran at Brillstein Entertainment Partners and has been collaborating with India through representing A-list talent like Hrithik Roshan, Ajay Devgan and Irrfan Khan. To his credit is the launch of Ajay Devgan Films in Los Angeles with funding through private US equity with the feature film ‘Parched’ being the first. Another feather in his cap is his role in the meteoric rise of Irrfan Khan’s career in the US from ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ to ‘Life of Pi.’ And the launch of Irrfan Khan Productions. Khanna spoke of the glass ceiling that still exists in Hollywood towards Indian talent even proven talent like that of Irrfan Khan who gets underpaid for his roles. Khanna has to struggle to clinch good deals for Indian talent. Khanna said it was his job to find talent, see that it is recognized not only in acting but behind the scene talent like editors, screen writers and others where there is a real need. He spoke of the visceral difference in the way of doing things in Hollywood vs Bollywood saying that in India acting and film making was a kind of lifestyle where in the US it was very serious business. “We are constantly learning as we are world’s apart,” he emphasized. He pointed out that an interesting transition was taking place by way of inde films , a good example being ‘The Lunch Box,’ starring Irrfan Khan. The movie is simple, not star driven, transcends culturally and has brilliant execution and the potential to make a mark with US audiences.
Ending on a positive note he assured the audience that things were definitely on an upswing involving a leap of faith. “They have to take a leap of faith with us as we with them,” he said.
VARIED INFORMATIVE PANELS BY EXPERTS AT TIECON
The “Hollywood & Beyond: Indian Artists & Cinema in a Global World” session Chaired by Dolly Kapoor, also featured Siva Natarajan, executive at Disney, Radha Mehta, chair of SAMMA, Jai Khanna – talent manager, and Paul Maslak, a producer. They discussed the differences between Bollywood talent and what drives them compared to those in Hollywood. There was heated discussion about the level of talent, the expectations, and corresponding success of Indians in Hollywood.
The “Cleantech Energy: Clean Is Green” was led by Harina Kapoor, Founder of Aikyum Solar. They discussed emerging trends in clean technologies, getting to market, and partnering for success and execution. Ganesh Venkat shared details on the Clean Energy opportunities available to entrepreneurs that may be funded by Sempra Energy; the electric vehicle industry was well covered between Ravi Kondagunta from Traction Labs and Ganesh Iyer of Tesla Motors. Harina’s presentation focused on how with the help of tax incentives, rebates and energy savings, going solar is a no-brainer. Conference attendees enjoyed free Tesla Model S test drives all day long. The highlight was the presence of Congressman Ami Bera earlier in the day when he shared his deep interests in clean energy and efforts involved in Washington D.C to increase funding towards clean energy research.
Kapil Juneja, Co-founder & CEO, Amplio and Praveen Yalmanchi, CEO of Transmedia Studios chaired the “Getting Funded, Angels, VC’s and PE’s” session. The house-full program featured Rishi Roongta, , Vice President, Pritzker Group Venture Capital, Marlon C. Nichols, Kauffman Fellow, Intel Capital, Eva Ho, General Partner, Susa Ventures, Matt Thompson, Vice President, Skyview, Ash Kumra, Co-Founder, DesiYou, and Andy Powers, CEO, CommuniClique. They talked about what they are looking to invest in and what it takes to secure capital.
The first three sessions were followed by an elaborate lunch, during which the networking continued. Special tables were set up to meet with Venture Capitalists as well as mentors. Following the lunch, the parallel sessions continued.
The “Breakthrough Innovation: Win by Changing the Game”, led by Smita G. Bagla, Vice President, Amritt, Inc, featured senior executives - PrabodhMathur, Vice President, Boston Scientific Inc., Dr. Abhinandan Jain, Senior Research Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, KodumudiRadhakrishnan, ex-CIO of Boeing, Ali Hanafi, Director of IT Strategic Planning, DIRECTV, and PramodKunju, CEO, Dataversal Inc. They talked about innovation and entrepreneurship as a culture in small companies as well as large enterprises as well as how large companies rely on smaller companies to feed their innovation pipeline.
The “Hospitality & Franchising: Insights about Motel, Hotel, Franchise & Lending” was led by Pannkaj Kummar, President of Sunbelt Business Brokers and Ramesh Patel, CPA at the Chugh Firm.. Kummar gave insights about the Business Brokerage Process.Panelist - Mike Miller, Franchise Development Manager for Image 360 spoke about the value a vranchisor brings to the table to the vranchisee. Pat Patnaik, a veteran banker specializing in vranchise loans and now a Senior Project Manager and a visiting Professor explained about how to do due diligence and valuing a franchise. Ash Patel , President and CEO of Commercial Bank of California gave the audience an overview of how to present a loan package, an honest business case, experience of the leadership and how important first impressions are.
The “Social Media: Strategies, Analytics & ROI for Brands” session was chaired by Venay Sehgal, Founder of Blue Vine Media and featured Dr. Natalie L. Petouhoff, CEO of an Executive Success Acceleration Firm, Casey Preston, CEO, Stratosphere Marketing Solutions and Beverly Macy, an Industry Expert in Social business. They discussed the relevance of social media in real businesses and in brand management, beyond just the hype of social media.
The “Big Data: Intelligence from Zettabytes – Challenges & Opportunities” was chaired by Arun Gollapudi, CEO, Systech Solutions and featured Dr. Subbu Murthy, CEO of UGovernIT, Subba Gopavarapu, President, GSR Technologies and Dinesh Srirangapatna, Research Manager, IDC. . The Panel traced the evolution of Big Data – from its scientific origins, its fantastic growth with data from the world wide web – to its furious explosion over today’s connected world covering mobile, social, sensor-based and machine data.The Panelists related to their personal experiences trying to harness big data and spoke at length at use cases in Medicine (intelligence for members of the Braille Institute), in Space &Aeronautics (for efficient fuel consumption during flights at NASA ), in Web & Social Media ( for preferences & personalization, for navigation ), for energy conservation & fraud detection (at GE Energy) and in intelligence from Sensors & Machines ( Health monitoring & predictive diagnoses).
The “Healthcare: Trends in Digital Health” was chaired by Vic Ahmed, CEO of Business Genetics and a TiE Global Trustee. Panelists included Rania Nasis, MD., Chair, Society of Physician Entrepreneurs, LA, Indu Subaiya, MD, CEO Health 2.0, Kelly O’Neil Dwight, Business Strategist, and Nikhil Jain, CEO, Seedhit. They addressed issues of security, privacy and management of information. Numerous personal health devices are coming to the market, leading to new challenges and opportunities.
The “Alternative Funding: Turbo Boosting Funding through Unconventional Ways” was led by Toni Das Gupta, Head of Speciality Finance, Kalara Law Firm and President Elect of TiESocal. Panelists included: Jagdish Shah, Ex President of KEMAC Technologies, Daniel Regidor, Founder, SATORI Soju, Darina Stoyanova, Founder, Surprise Foundation, and Roger Pondel, CEO, Pondel Wilkinson Inc. They talked about “crowd sourcing”, “private IPO’s”, and “Bitcoin based funding”. They also talked about funding businesses with guaranteed sales/cash-flow and strategies to optimize cash-flow. The 9 parallel sessions were followed by a networking break and then heart-pounding entertainment by Chilli Beatz as attendees hit the dance floor.