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'It's a great time to invest in technology'

By Shalini Kathuria Narang in Santa Clara
May 18, 2009 17:08 IST
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The annual The indUS Entrepreneurs (TiE) conference reiterating the 'can do' ethos of the American success culture was held at the Santa Clara Convention Centre in Bay Area, California on May 15. The theme for this year's soiree was the 'Bold Entrepreneur'.

The annual TiE conference is the world's premier business networking event of the year for current and former entrepreneurs at various stages of their ventures, venture capitalists, lawyers and others in the ecosystem of entrepreneurship. Attendees had come from various countries of Latin America, Canada, Europe, Singapore, Japan and India

The three new initiatives launched at this year's convention included Tie 50-50 start-up winners across the five segments of consumer Web, Internet infrastructure, software, cleantech and wireless. The 50 winners were chosen from over 1200 participants.

The event received a good response this year. Vish Mishra, TiE president said, "Around 3,600 people attended the two-day conference, which is a 40 per cent increase from last year's participation."

The other new initiatives at the convention included 'Business Boot Camp' for entrepreneurs to learn battle tested tips to help grow their businesses in cash flow management, networking, sales and marketing and others and finally the initiative of Power Connect, a premium networking opportunity with experts in the varied segments.

The enduring message in the main key notes by Brad Smith, CEO Intuit and other speakers at the various panel sessions was to take the economic downturn as an opportunity to listen and learn from the customers and for budding entrepreneurs to commence their ventures.

The corporate gurus restated that the need of the hour for all businesses is to provide a value added differential experience to the customers beyond the competitor offerings. Brad enumerated the best practices that Intuit is employing to help sustain and grow the business in these trying times.

He said, "We are involving and listening to our customers by engaging them actively in our product development and enhancements, using our employee resources and using our networks to grow."

He added, "Storm clouds are still ugly but the sun will shine. It is best to play offensive in tough times. It is a great time to be an entrepreneur since great talent is available. Focus on one thing that inspires you and makes your heart beat faster and do it to the best of your ability."

After Brad's inspirational keynote, Hans Morris, president, Visa Inc. spoke about the history of Visa and took the audience on a journey of money over a century, and presented how the payment system has evolved and changed the way people use and exchange money. He also expressed great optimism for the future of smart phones and mobile payments.

Besides the keynotes, the interesting and thought provoking sessions covered myriad areas and opinions from the experts.

In the 'Social Media-The Revolution is Coming' panel, Adam Bain of the Fox Audience Network opined, "Social media is primarily a platform for public self expression with the rich source of data being its greatest asset."

While privacy and trust of users and micro control over their information are to be the businesses top priority, for revenue generation, the businesses have a great potential for advertisers.

All the speakers including investor Deepak Kamra agreed that there are no absolute answers to the monetisation of a social platform and varied players are experimenting in myriad ways including virtual gaming, virtual money, structured advertising and others.

Jessica Alter of Bebo said, "Experiment with your vision in a small way and do not be afraid to fail. The part of the process of innovation is the ability to fail but fail quickly."

In the 'Wireless -What's Working, Where and Why' panel, the main message was that applications for mass market is the niche area that needs to be explored and simple applications for the common man catering to their everyday needs have a great potential for adoption and scalability.

Yves Maitre of Orange said, "Power lies in volume and new business models need to be explored and investigated."

In the 'Networking into a New Career and Vaulting into a New Job' session, career coach Dilip Saraf suggested, "Manage your career preemptively, define your career arc, make plans and write your resume to cast your future instead of only focusing on your past." He added, "Revisit the Ahas and the high points in your career to chart a forward looking message via your resume and cover letter."

In the keenly attended event, Dilip advised the job seekers to redefine their value proposition and to identify their spark. He advised the seekers to craft a unique message to grab the reader attention and to keenly research the company that they wish to work in.

Some of his other advices included negotiating an offer, focusing on values and responsibilities, partnering with your boss and making a 100-day career plan at the start of a new job.

While old timers consider the informal networking as the high note of such and similar gatherings, the attendees also chime on the importance of keynotes as success factors.

Vivek Ranadive, founder and CEO of TIBCO's key note se a full house enumerated his myriad experiences as an entrepreneur and said, "Life is not always on schedule. I believe the worst is behind us. Customers have begun loosening their purse strings and it is a great time to invest in technology."

He added, "I firmly believe that you can keep people down only for so long. I have faced many a goliaths in my career and the lessons that I have learnt are that to succeed you have to be better, try harder and deliver a greater value proposition."

As an advice to entrepreneurs, he said, "Whatever has been done, can be done better. Surround yourself with people smarter than yourself and persevere and never give up."

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Shalini Kathuria Narang in Santa Clara

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