TiEcon 2005 Lifts the Global Entrepreneurial Spirit
By Ras H. Siddiqui


L to R: Thomas Friedman, Talat Hassan, Sridar Lyenger, Safi Qureshey, Apurv Baqri and Eric Schmidt

Often billed as the “Largest Entrepreneurial Conference in the World” for good reason, The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) annual conference or TiEcon 2005 this year, once again demonstrated to over 2000 attendees the reason why it matters to people globally.
With 42 Chapters in nine countries TiE has established itself as a serious networking base for people who originate in South Asia but are found in all parts of the world. And in the process of encouraging new entrepreneurs, TiE has been able to gather quite a number of people who have already “made it” in the hi-tech world of business so that they can encourage others to follow in their footsteps without having to reinvent the wheels they used to succeed in the business world.
This year’s “TiEcon 2005 Energizing The Global Entrepreneurial Spirit” was held at the Santa Clara Convention Center on May 13 and 14 in the heart of what is known as the “Silicon Valley” around the globe for its innovations. The “Mother Ship” of TiE or its original chapter formed here in 1992 hosted an event that could only be described as “inspiring.”
With keynote speeches by the likes of Dr. Eric Schmidt (CEO of Google), Vinod Khosla (of KPC&B) who made how to change the world his focal point, with Steve Ballmer of Microsoft addressing the conference via a video broadcast, the keynote speeches by John Foley of the Blue Angels, Bruce Chizen of Adobe and Daniel Rosenweig of Yahoo, Marc Benioff of salesforce.com and the musings on “Democracy and Sustained Economic Growth: Freedom and Empowerment,” plus last (actually first) but not least a virtual flattening of a round world by New York Times columnist and writer Thomas L. Friedman along with panels populated by a number of business luminaries made this TiEcon a huge success.
The banquet dinner themed “Like that?!” closed the conference on a high note as cultures crossed, blended and horizons expanded because artful nourishment cannot ever be separated completely from the world of business.
Since it is not possible to include the entire activity of a two-day conference in one report, one had to concentrate on its opening and the Press/media luncheon which set the tone of the event. A few observations that were made also have to be included.


L to R: Zafar Jafri, Riaz Haq and Javed Ellahie

With the reception area buzzing, much activity heralded the welcoming speeches including those by Tie Inc. Chairman Apu Bagri and President Sridar Iyengar we were soon to encounter the Friedman factor.
Thomas Friedman set the mood with his keynote address during which he shared the reason behind the writing his latest book “The World is Flat” and some of its visionary content. He said that it all began when he researched the issue of “outsourcing,” a term that has became a hot topic in America especially since the last Presidential election. He continued with the observation that while he was sleeping, something really big was happening in the globalization story. He said that it occurred to him that the global economic playing field was being flattened and that the American population was not ready enough or aware of this fact.
With jobs in America now competing with those in India and China as examples, Friedman made some ominous statements that one cannot but accept. Due to the communication revolution which he presented chronologically and dissected for his listeners, much pragmatism has been reborn. He said that the main problem that we face here in the United States today is not just we are not prepared for this kind of future but that “nobody has told the kids (here).” “There is no such thing as an American job in a flat world,” he said.
And if Friedman was being both philosophical and visionary, Dr. Eric Schmidt of Google was all business. Straight and to the point he expanded on a number of points especially on how companies experience growing pains and need to adjust. After the phenomenal growth that Google has undergone recently, let us say that people were listening to him carefully. “A certain amount of patience is required,” he said.
Out of the 27 panel presentations held in six parallel sets, we can take just one as an example to report on here. On the topic of “How I Raised my First Round” (of money that is), Allen Beasly, Jorge Del Calvo, Dr. Talat Hassan, Purnendu Ojha and Safi Qureshey shared their personal experiences on how some corporate success stories were born. The panel was conducted by Matt Marshall, columnist for the San Jose Mercury News.
“We started the company after eight years,” said Talat Hassan. She pointed out the fact that it was this experience that went behind the Statistical Process Control tools developed by her company for use in hi-tech manufacturing. Safi Qureshey was asked how the three founders of AST handled the initial challenges of starting up 25 years ago. Safi emphasized that all three founders of AST were immigrant engineers and faced many interesting issues which they wisely faced by valuing individual decision-making. “We never took a vote,” he said.
Both Safi and Mrs. Hassan revealed the importance of finding starting capital by taking out loans and using lines of credit against one’s homes while waiting for outside investment in your efforts. That most of us would think twice and not proceed with such a venture is another story, but entrepreneurs are a rare breed overcoming huge odds to succeed.
The media luncheon was unique as the TiE’s “Emerging Stars” program was reviewed here and quite a number of companies and their representatives were recognized. The format was interesting in the way that the media and businesses were purposely mixed at each table. Lucky for this reporter, seated on table #4 were Sriram Viswanathan of Intel Capital, a couple of representatives from Billeo, Inc. certainly an emerging company, Clare Henjum, a public relations rep. for a company called SalesBrain which concentrates on a field called “neuro marketing” and last but not least Cyber Crime Writer Deb Radcliff who has given the investigative reporting of crimes over the Internet a great deal of valuable help and coverage. One could only imagine who was seated at the other tables and what other interesting conversations were taking place.
In closing TiEcon 2005 may have cut on the frills but appeared to be similarly or even better attended in comparison to last year. And if one can make this annual conference a barometer of the current state of health of the high-technology industry here in the US, it appears that the bottom has passed and that things are finally moving up.


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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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