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TiE Atlanta brings entrepreneurship to ‘the young and the restless’!

January 2011
TiE Atlanta brings entrepreneurship to ‘the young and the restless’! On November 21, 2010, what seemed like a quiet Sunday afternoon at Emory Johns Creek was quickly lit up by TiE Atlanta’s inaugural Young Entrepreneurs group (TYE). As 26 eager high school students walked in, the classroom filled with intellectual and ambitious minds waiting to hear from some of the globe’s most successful entrepreneurs.

With Kanchana Raman, Maha Mahadevan, Arul Murugan, Ezhelan Ramarajan at his side, Bala Balakrishnan welcomed the students. As moderator and founder of TYE Atlanta, Bala explained that TiE Atlanta is the third chapter, after TiE Boston and TiE Carolinas (Raleigh, NC), in a 55-chapter system to adopt the TYE program. First place winners from the TYE Atlanta program will go on to compete in a business plan competition for the TiE TYE Global prize of $25,000!

There wasn’t a dull moment that afternoon. Students networked during lunch, presented during class, and, most importantly, formed business ideas—at what seemed an infinite pace! Importing jewelry from India, capitalizing on an up-and-coming government-created high demand market, and a USB device that doubles as a watch were just some of the ideas marinating in their brains.

Palaniswamy “Raj” Rajan, Founder and CEO of Virima Technologies, kicked off the first of three courses. Raj engaged the students in a fun-filled manner. He walked the class through the entrepreneurship process, including the observation that “Entrepreneurs never rest. They are always working.” All participating practiced saying loudly with confidence, “I am an entrepreneur!!!”

Deepak Raghavan, Co-founder and Director of Manhattan Associates, led the next course and shared how to find the opportunities that entrepreneurs build companies around. Deepak departed with words of wisdom: “It’s not the strongest and biggest that survive; it’s the ones that can adapt to change the fastest.”

Anil Khatod, Managing Director of Argonaut Private Equity, clearly articulated the creation and importance of business models as well as the powerful structure of venture capital. An example using Blockbuster and Netflix provided for discussion. “The Investor, the VC (venture capitalist) and the Entrepreneur” Anil stated, were the three primary tiers of the venture capital roles.

Between the three courses, the students were treated to stories from existing twenty-something entrepreneurs. Devon Wijesinghe, Chief Strategy Officer of E-Verifile and a successful entrepreneur by a very young age, delighted the students with his snappy, no-nonsense and fun approach. His advice to “do whatever it takes to surround yourself with good people” remains applicable for all ages! Abhi Sharma, Founder of Two Pickles, shared the ups and downs of starting a company, leaving the students with the encouragement of his success.

Eager volunteers assisted in making the inaugural class a success. Without the students, the program would not have been in existence. Special gratitude to the dedicated volunteers and an extra special thanks to the sponsors, Das Krishnan, Smartsoft International Inc. and Arul Murugan, CEO of Enrich IT.

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