Posts Tagged ‘TiE’

At the outset, I must state that entrepreneurs are lucky to have organizations like TiE around. These are boons for anyone starting up. I mean, the ecosystem that they manage to create is so wonderful, that it can make significant difference to an entrepreneur, in terms of getting some interesting ideas or saving time or money, or meeting some perfect contacts, etc. etc.

I wish we had more of these in my early days of starting up.

But well, let me not dwell on that. More importantly, TiE is here, and amongst the many wonderful things that TiE does, one of them is the Annual Summits that they organize.

I am not sure about the TiE Summits in other parts of India, or the world, but the ones in Mumbai, really rock!

I managed to catch a few hours only, of this summit yesterday, but I was most impressed. By many things, including:

– the organization, the location, the layout, the works.. all done very well. The team of volunteers at work, the commitment that everyone showed, was quite exemplary.

– the few talks that I managed to catch, were good too. Kishore Biyani, Murkhumbe and Ajay Piramal on stage, giving excellent gyaan, and having good banter, for example. How easy it is otherwise, for young students and entrepreneurs, to be so close to these luminaries? TiE makes it happen.

– the talks by founders of Goonj, Bangalore Traffic Project and Flipkart. All of these were interesting in their own way. The Goonj talk was a shocking reality check for most of us, including Kishore Biyani, who was on stage and moderating the session. What they are doing is truly commendable. Likewise, the Bangalore Traffic project is also an excellent initiative and showing real results as well. And for Flipkart, even though the presentation was not as slick and smart as the other two, the business itself, of course, is path breaking. That finally someone is demystifying e-retail in India, and making real transactions happen, is great. Unlike group buying and stuff of that kind, which is about “giving away a rupee for 50 paise” and hence is unrealistic to last!

– the overall energy in the corridors was also infectious. Loved it.

– the 5-min talk that Sanjeev Bikhchandani gave, gave me my money’s worth (although, strictly speaking, as a Charter Member, I had NOT paid any money for the specific event!)

So indeed, entrepreneurs should thank their stars to have bodies like TiE around. Spoilt as they may be, with choice on account of the hundreds of similar sounding startup activities and mentoring events, entrepreneurs should not find fault with these bodies. It is NOBODY’S duty to provide an entrepreneur with any specific ecosystem or mentoring or guidance or anything. If it is done, and one gets the benefit, accept it, use it, and make the most of it. Don’t crib, and keep asking for more.. !

I attended the TiE Entrepreneurship Summit 2009 (#TES09) at Mumbai recently. For a change, I shared my thoughts and observations of the event, via a series of “microblogs” rather than a full blog post. Here’s the compilation of these tweets. As in any blog, to make sense of the sequence, read from bottom to top 🙂

  • Ok,so that about summarizes #tes09 for me.. oh, met a LOT of people. So starting new contacts, new connects on LinkedIn.. lol..
  • Food was good, chai and ccd coffee, goli vada pav with his variants, cookies, biscuits, bottled water.. arrangements were all good. #tes09
  • Attended a Social Media round table for charter members at #tes09 – interesting. Think there is a huge gap in “understanding” SM all over!
  • Conspicuous by their absence at #tes09.. delegates and charter members from US, whom I hv seen in much larger nos previously.. #recession ??
  • The hottest event at #tes09 was surely the R D Burman special evening, with Pradeep Udhas, Manohari-da etc. (check http://bit.ly/emZMm)
  • sorry.. I mean, Ratan Tata – Narayan Murthy inaugural  interaction with Shekhar Gupta #tes09
  • Damp squib event of #tes09 was the Ratan Tata-Nilekani interaction by Shekhar Gupta. Blame it on Shekhar though. Didn’t draw them out much..
  • Other good talks (for me) were Nilekani on UID, Devdutt Patnaik, desi jugaad of Venky (Goli Vada Pav), Kunwer (Su-kam), Nirmalaji.. #tes09
  • The rockstar speaker was Kishor Biyani. Cuts to the chase, knows India, knows consumer, speaks his mind. Very impressed. #tes09
  • Speaking of Ghajni though, was impressed by the style of 1 entrepreneur. After intro, he took pic with everyone he met. Neat. #tes09
  • There was one guy, Marshall, who took the cake. Stuck his hand EIGHT diff times, to make an intro. Ghajni, what? No memory?!! #tes09
  • Good to see mgmt students at #tes09 except at times, they barged in. Wud interrupt a discussion to get yr card. Like #telemarketing 😦
  • In fact, know a few first time visitors who were completely bowled over by the event. #tes09
  • First time visitors to a TiE summit enjoyed the range of the speakers. For regulars, speakers at #tes09 were like – seen them, heard them.
  • So hair fall is a big issue for sure. Not seen so many balding heads under one roof ever as seen at #tes09 lol..
  • The most common word used at #tes09 was jugaad. Already feeling sick of that word.. bit much, but then it trended there!!
  • The attendees at #tes09 were a real mixed bag. Mgmt students, medical docs, strategy advisors, fin cons, besides usual suspects – IT, dotcom
  • Bazaar style road attempt with vada pav, chai, sing-chana, etc. was good. But space was cramped. Not much room for offline meetings #tes09
  • So #tes09 was in MMRDA, in an air-con large tent. But challenges here – uneven ground, non-uniform cooling, temp (though good) toilets..
  • Would have been good to have had #tes09 in a hotel, but I guess, attendee nos. were too high. Oh, for a great Convention Center in Mumbai..
  • #Tes09 in the end, was very well organized, kudos to Sreedhar, Manak, Zee and the rest of the TiE Mumbai gang!
  • Considered doing a blog to summarize observations of #tes09, but think Twitter is better! So here goes..

Yesterday I was filling out the registration form for the TiE Summit in Mumbai, coming up this December, and where I needed to describe my entrepreneurial status. Of the many options offered there (e.g. early stage entrepreneur, growth stage entrepreneur etc.), there was the one that seemed most correct for me, viz. Serial Entrepreneur. Yeah, I guess I qualify for that! Having co-founded and ran Homeindia.com from 1998 to 2007, before divesting our stake and exiting, now this new venture, Social Wavelength, started in April of this year, is certainly a “serial” venture!

So how is it different the second time around? Is there still the same passion? The madness to think that you can make the world different? Or is it all tampered with time?

I thought about it, and realized that for me, this second time is certainly different. But for all the right reasons! Well, except the age. Really, I wish I could have started my entrepreneurial career at least 10 years before I did. Oh well. (Maybe this last bit of thought is the direct consequence of having just passed the 46th birthday. Part of that philosophical churn that accompanies the passing of a birthday, especially in the 40s age bracket!)

Coming back to the differences between being a first time entrepreneur and a serial one, I would pick the following key factors:

  1. There is more fire in the belly. I must qualify this. I remember a talk by Kanwal Rekhi at IIT Mumbai, earlier this year. Where he clearly contrasted second ventures of very successful first time entrepreneurs (and how they were not doing that well, as comfort zone had set in) and how he valued the not-so-successful-first-time-entrepreneur’s second venture. Because if the first time had meant lesser success due to a myriad of circumstances, but not for want of trying, then the entrepreneur has a bigger motive this time. To show others but most importantly to himself that he is no less, and he can be successful. That brings in more hunger and more determination.
  2. When an employee walks away without giving adequate time, you are upset but not shocked. And words like ‘betrayal’ do not exactly come in the head. You have seen enough and more. That there are all kinds of people. After doing all that you can, to make life good for your team, and more importantly, give them the freedom to speak candidly to you about leaving etc., people may still behave peculiarly. Suddenly the ‘father may get seriously ill’ or ‘the family may get transferred’ or they may ‘develop a disease that requires hospitalization’ and due to which reasons, they have to leave the job right away. You almost want to tell them that ‘do away with the charade’. But you don’t. And accept this as one of those things that happen. In spite of everything that you do. And you go ahead and look for replacements and life goes on!
  3. There is excitement and enthusiasm but celebrations don’t start before the cheque actually clears in the bank! You have seen enough near-misses to know that being almost there is not good enough. A great client contract, an investment or any other such good news is only true and worth celebrating, after the deal is done or the contract signed. Or whatever.
  4. In my case, specifically, there is a lower dependence on the valuation story and more focus on making and running a good, profitable business. The first time around, we actually stopped a profit making activity after we raised venture money, and pursued only a valuation game. This time around, there is clarity that profits and cash are king, and must be nurtured and protected and grown. And valuation, if it happens (and it will!), it is good, but it should not be made the be-all-and-end-all of the business activity.

Well, so here I am, serial entrepreneur. On this second journey. More exciting than the first in many ways.

What’s your story? Are you on your first? Second? Fifth? Done and retired in Bahamas..? What??