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Entrepreneurs explore Blockchain, FinTech, and Startup Strategy at TiECON 2018

By Archith Seshadri
November 2018
Entrepreneurs explore Blockchain, FinTech, and Startup Strategy at TiECON 2018

Whether you plan to leave your corporate job and start your own venture or you already are an established entrepreneur, working for yourself is all part of the American dream. But not everyone knows how to turn an idea into a profitable venture. Others struggle with managing long term finances. And as technology continues to change, it is imperative that you not only have a strong business acumen but can also keep up with industry trends.

Over 400 investors, entrepreneurs, and business leaders shared ideas, best practices, and their personal struggles at TiECON Atlanta, on Friday, September 28, 2018 at The Hotel at Avalon in Alpharetta. The focus this year was: Invent. Invest, Inspire. “We wanted diversity of age, diversity of content—a conference for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs,” said President of TiE Atlanta, Dr. Paul Lopez.

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(Left) Opening keynotes, Cindy and Kevin Abel, with Michael Coles. (Photo: ByteGraph)

The opening keynote was by Cindy and Kevin Abel, with Michael Coles, co-founder of The Great American Cookie Company and namesake of Kennesaw State University’s Michael J. Coles College of Business. The Abels left Accenture to start their own IT consulting firm, Abel Solutions. They said one of their biggest lessons is to make sure that entrepreneurs hire the right people for the job. They also spoke about their journey from the corporate world, how to manage a strong work culture, navigating successful exits, and getting involved in the community through social entrepreneurship.

In a breakout session, Palaniswamy Rajan of CTW Ventures, and a veteran of the TiE-Atlanta community, emphasized getting the product right for the market, finding the right people, and creating a highly performing executable culture.

The session on ‘Starting and Scaling’ addressed what investors are focusing on and how entrepreneurs must align their values to maximize on the investment. Tech Square Ventures’ Managing Director Blake Patton added, “You have to have the right team. Timing is key. Execution is key. Scaling involves key growth and distribution.” Michael Maziar of Silicon Valley Bank said most companies fail because they don’t have the right product-market fit or have the wrong team and don’t know how to manage their money.

Another session focused on ‘Trends in Fintech’ (financial tech industry), how to stay on the cutting edge of technology, and consumer security. Other sessions focused on exit planning, how to bring in later stage CEOs, scaling from small to big, and learning to shift in management styles, services, and culture. The final breakout focused on Blockchain technology and when that, along with crypto, will be ready for mass adoption, and focusing on fund raising through security token offerings.

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A lunch panel focused on the impact of women in entrepreneurship. Jasmine Crowe of Goodr, Dani Cushion of Cardlytics, and Felicia Phillips of PPICW shared their stories on fundraising and the challenges of being in a male dominated space. Crowe said she was the 35th African American woman to raise more than a million dollars, and while she was proud of the accomplishment, it was still a startling statistic. Her company leverages technology to combat hunger and reduce waste.

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(Left) Closing keynote: author and serial entrepreneur Bill Nussey. (Photo:ByteGraph)

The closing keynote was by author and serial entrepreneur Bill Nussey, whose entrepreneurial journey started in high school, where he co-founded his first company to develop graphics software for early, textbased personal computers. His second company grew out of his college dorm room and ultimately sold business software across 45 countries. His third company, SilverPop, went public and grew to almost $500 million in revenue. He sold it to IBM, where he spent 18 months as its VP of Corporate Strategy out of the world headquarters in New York. Nussey talked about being driven and focused: be intentional (have a plan, be early, be prepared, never drift), go where you’ll grow, forge a mission, and lead by aligning beliefs.

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(Left) TiECon award winners with President Paul Lopez (left). (Photo: ByteGraph)

The event wrapped up honoring the top entrepreneurs in Atlanta, followed by a networking reception. “Having a clear list of priorities/values, persistence, communication, profitable revenue” are some of the most important things to be a successful entrepreneur, according to chapter president, Dr. Lopez.

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