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TieCon SouthEast 2006

December 2006
TieCon SouthEast 2006

"Only new ideas can bring us economic growth and only capitalism can drive the tide of new ideas," said Richard House, founder and president CompuCredit at TiE's SouthEast Conference held at Cobb Galleria on October 28th. House stressed that capitalism promotes entrepreneurship.

Indeed TiE (The Indus Entrepreneur) has been playing an active role in creating and nurturing new ideas. Its global vision as presented by Chand Akkineni, President TiE-Atlanta, was to become "the" global organization for entrepreneurship and to mentor 1,000 sustainable businesses.

This conference covered a gamut of topics ranging from writing an effective business plan and getting funding to making the businesses idea a success. What made the event interesting was that not only did it cater to the materialistic aspects of an entrepreneurs' life but also to the spiritual. Many were appreciative of the organizing team of Chand Akkineni, Rajesh Rao, President TiE-Carolinas and Kiran Chhaganlal, President, TiE-Florida for attempting to create this balance in an entrepreneur's life.

First speaker of the day was the dynamic and energetic Harsha Agadi, CEO of Church's chicken, who spoke about "Building Billion Dollar Sales" by sharing his success story, which highlighted the importance of focusing on core competencies and strategy. "Be clear what is your destination and how you plan to travel there, share it with each and every employee. Know who you are, replicate that rapidly and saturate the market", he said. Agadi also stressed the importance of being aware of changing demographics and shifting target markets, keeping processes simple and speedy and recruiting the right people.

To become successful, a global perspective are equally important to an entrepreneur. Towards this end Dr. Jagdish Sheth provided a very insightful overview of the global state of business opportunities. While highlighting India as one of the leading destinations for business opportunities, Sheth emphasized that one's geographic location need not be an issue in taking advantage of that fact. The domestic sectors in India where the main opportunities will be are outsourcing, education, health and wellness, wealth creation and preservation, value-add R & D, infrastructure and supply chain logistics, travel and tourism, defense, value-add agriculture and manufacturing. "The 21st century will be for the Asian side – Japan, Korea, China and India. This century will be driven by markets and not by ideologies, less and less by advanced economies and more and more by emerging nations," he added. India's growth will be fueled by major acquisitions of businesses worldwide.

Be it India or USA, entrepreneurs face a major challenge of raising money for their businesses. The VC panel comprising of Joey Silver, Ramsay Battin, Anil Khatod, Mike Slawson, and Wab Kadaba was moderated by Kiran Chhaganlal provided excellent insights into what VCs look for. Writing effective business plans and handling legal issues were amongst the topics addressed. They explained that the VCs look for how a business will make money. They also look at the team, the target market, the value proposition, and the operational and executional aspects. The panel expressed that most entrepreneurs exhibit a total lack of sales and marketing perspectives.

The Trail Blazers panel comprising Richard House and Mitesh Shah (CEO Noble Investments) was moderated by Rajan Sheth. The trail blazers talked about how they built and grew their companies and future opportunities. They emphasized the need to build a new team at every stage of the company's growth as the earlier team though good may not meet the needs after growth. As risks are involved in any business, "always look for business where you have high margins and room for error," said House.

Adding diversity to the conference was a panel, "Fueling Health Science Innovations in a Global Economy" comprising Tom Keesling, President IndUShealth; Dr. Vipin Garg, CEO, Tranzyme Pharma; and Roddy Clark, Redmont Venture and was moderated by Manohar Raheja. They touched upon the opportunities and challenges in drug development, main challenge being reducing cost. "Ability to survive tough times is the difference between success and failure," said Garg. An interesting new opportunity discussed by Keesling was ‘Medical Tourism to India.' He said that "India is emerging as a Hospital to the world."

The CIO panel comprising Salil Kulkarni, CIO John Harland; Robert Taylor, CIO Fulton County; Vivek Wadhwa, Duke University and moderated by Pavan Rai dwelt on different aspects of a CIO's role. Taylor shared how they became the leader in computerization in the government sector and Kulkarni shared the hows and whys of the survival strategy adopted by Harland under the changing market conditions. Vivek Wadhwa shared the findings of the outsourcing study undertaken by him.

Trailblazer panel 2 comprising Jay Chaudhry, VC Secure Computing; Bijan Khosravi, Movaz Networks; Christopher Klaus, Founder Kaneva was moderated by Nandan Sheth. The panel discussed issues and challenges at start-up stage and gave practical advise on operations of a company. Khosravi and Klaus emphasized the need to have the right people on board. Commenting on entrepreneurs' fear of sharing ideas all agreed that "more ideas die of insecurity and that (success) is a matter of executing it." Chaudhry advised "don't fall in love with your technology; ninety percent of companies fail due to lack of sales and marketing."

The sessions concluded with a vote of thanks by Conference chairman C. N. Madhusudan. Agadi and other speakers appreciated Chand Akkeneni for his doggedness in organizing the event. This was followed by a banquet with dinner and entertainment. The evening's highlight was Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudeva, founder of the international Isha Foundation, a non-denominational spiritual and service organization, who emphasized the need for inner progress along with the external one. "Inner engineering will aid in leading a stress-free life and add value to all activities you undertake. By gaining control over inner situations, leaders have a new opportunity as well as responsibility to evaluate and enhance their contribution to commerce, society and the world."

-Shubhangi Pandit

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