Follow On

An interesting message for New India – Losing money is difficult but not the end of the world, but let us not lose our values in the chase for success…

Mid-November I had the privilege of chairing TiECON in Pune and what a learning experience it was for over 400 entrepreneurs who enjoyed understanding what it takes to be future achievers in India and the world!

At a time when people still ask “can I attend on Zoom?” and “will the lunch be good?” we got stalwarts on Ground Zero. They were – Padma Vibhushan Dr Raghunath Mashelkar from Pune, Super Entrepreneur Bhavish Agarwal from OLA, CEOs Pallabi Saboo and Suchi Ramachandran from the East Coast of USA, Renuka Ramnath of Multiples Private Equity and key investors and entrepreneurs from Mumbai and Delhi. They all joined us at the session, which is a tribute to the passion and zeal of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) team and their commitment to deliver the best.

Since 1992, TiE has been supporting entrepreneurs by offering education, mentorship, networking and funding opportunities. The mission of TiE is to do this globally through its five pillars: mentoring, networking and education, funding and incubation and in recent times a string focus on sustainability and impact funds has been added.. Dedicated to the virtuous cycle of wealth creation and giving back to the community. TiE’s focus area is to generate enable the next generation of entrepreneurs.

There are currently 15,000 members (including over 3000 charter members or mentors) in 61 chapters across 14 countries. TiE’s mission is to foster entrepreneurship globally through mentoring, networking, and education. Dedicated to the virtuous cycle of wealth creation and giving back to the community, TiE’s focus is on generating and nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs. It is in this context that Pune’s Global Achievers’ Conclave ticked all four boxes of Education, Empowerment, Enlightenment and Entertainment.

Why do the four Es have so much importance for future success stories? As I mentioned in my talk at the keynote panel, the future is not for the 15 to 20% annual growth services companies. Neither is it the model that OLA Cabs, ZOHO or even Nykaa adopted to build success stories. In fact, as Dr Mashelkar rightly said, it’s time for entrepreneurs to pole vault rather than leapfrog and that can happen not by looking for an open door of opportunity but by creating one’s own door that leads to new products and services for a new generation. And if that’s not educated enough, the message from the financial services industry doyen Renuka was clear – don’t ask what your investor expects from you, ask yourself what you need from an investor who can partner with you on your entrepreneurial journey!

Empowerment at the conclave came from the success stories of many middle-class folks like you and me – Pallabi Saboo, Anand Deshpande, Parul Ganju and Natshasha of Vajor who have chosen different pathways and demonstrated success. As Pallabi. Executive Chairperson of Harmonia Inc in Washington DC suggested a strong idea, capitalising on inherent biases in the customer community and a strong team of one dreamer, one hacker and one sales expert who can find the path to success. And enlightenment came from the exhortation by Shivam Sharma to look for the new door in your own mind and Narendra Goidani’s clarion call to every entrepreneur to try and do something significant every single day.

The importance to stay grounded and still be ambitious came from a superlative fireside chat with Bhavish in which he talked about his success with OLA Cabs and his dreams for OLA Electric and answered the inevitable comparison question with Elon Musk by saying “For the best there is Tesla, For the rest there is OLA.” In many of the panels, speakers got first-time entrepreneurs to feel bold and ask their questions. It did not need the magical voice of Pradeep Udhas, a consultant turned full-time singer to keep the audience enthralled through the conclave, there was enough and more entertainment beyond the music in the discussions themselves.

The environment today is no longer as tough as it was in the days when neither the Government nor funding agencies nor even families supported entrepreneurs. I am one of those who believe that young people should not be misled to jump blindly into doing a start-up and they should follow the advice of Rajan Anandan of Sequoia and build an “insane product-market connect. If that is followed up with timely doses of investment capital, the team is assembled and customers are mapped out and approached, the enterprise will succeed.

The action in TiE moves to a bigger stage, the TiE Global Summit (TGS) which is being hosted at Hyderabad this time. It’s a venue where I will switch my own articulation from Technology and Leadership to Sustainability and Social Enterprises with a power panel of practitioners from large corporate, social sector and capital aggregators like the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network. At the end of the day, it goes back with to what TiE Pune President said: “Losing money is difficult but not the end of the world, but let us not lose our values in the chase for success.” As the world continues to struggle with inflation and changing market and employee preferences, there will be heartbreaks galore but also enough opportunities to chase and succeed. No doubt, we are living in exciting times!