CAMBRIDGE, MA—(Editor’s note: TiE-Boston, the second oldest and largest chapter of TiE-Global, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. On this occasion, INDIA New England News posed five questions to a few early charter members and some past presidents TiE-Boston. Here is their response to our third question. Their answers have been shortened and edited for clarity.)
Question: The 1997 was a very different environment for entrepreneurship, technology and venture capital. What should TiE-Boston focus on going forward?
Sushil Bhatia, Founding Charter Member
It should focus more on: #1 Promoting women entrepreneurs and innovators; #2 Manufacturing; #3 Frugal Innovation; and #4 More physical products than only IT and apps which everyone is trying to do.
If we do not focus on physical products there will be less development of new skills, supply chain and creation of raw materials without which the economy will not grow.
Ashok Boghani, Founding Charter Member
I have retired and have focused on the non-profit world for the past few years, so I cannot properly respond to this question. However, I would make a pitch for TyE, the young entrepreneurs program that originated at TiE-Boston. This is an offering that should be expanded to include non-Indian kids. I see entrepreneurship as a great way, especially for the immigrant communities, to achieve financial success in life. Perhaps we can make a concerted effort to outreach to the other communities.
Puran Dang, Charter Member Emeritus
In those very inspiring times in the initial years, we had monthly Meetings at Burlington Marriott Hotel where we used to have like 400 people brimming with hope and confidence. We used to invite well known leaders as Keynote Speakers who motivated young entrepreneurs to realize their dreams. I was Co-Chair of these meetings along with late Dr. Ashok Kalelkar and I still dream those days. The Q&A session was the most interesting.
We invited the most famous Venture Capitalist, Vinod Khosla, Pepsi Chairperson Indira Nui, and scores of others of that caliber who inspired us all. I miss those events and feel very strongly that those Monthly Meetings must be revived in a serious manner. Time never stops and technology is constantly evolving, Venture World has dramatically changed, and entrepreneurship has brought about extra-ordinary stresses because of competition.
TIE-Boston must design and present Workshops of different nature with deep preparation so that young entrepreneurs drink deep into the ocean of new ideas and learn the ways of implementation of their projects. The old ways will not work and TIE-BOSTON must move with the change of times. This great organization has a great future.
Samir Desai, Founding Charter Member and Past President
TiE Boston has a great reputation and created many successful companies and nurtured tremendous number of ideas and innovations. To reach new heights, TiE needs to do several things, (1) Encourage and foster greater communication and social relationships among charter members, (2) Encourage diversity of Charter Members, especially more women (3) Empower new generations to take over and lead TiE (4) Diversify to add new industries and businesses. There are tremendous number of areas we don’t touch. New space in future is knowledge, technology, data solving major social and human problems by new applications and innovations and (5) We need to have an Annual Gala that is envy of all and a place everyone wants to be in order to create new visibility and future growth.
Desh Deshpande, Founding Charter Member, Founding President and Past Chairman
In 1997, there were few Entrepreneurs. TiE quickly became one of the few leading entrepreneurial organization to talk about entrepreneurship and formalize the mentoring process. It was unique in bringing Charter Members and members together. It was unique in promoting giving back where successful professionals payed dues every year to have the privilege of helping younger professionals. In fact, I think it still the only organizations where a few thousand successful professionals all over the world pay dues to give back.
After 20 years, entrepreneurship is everywhere; Universities, non-profits, Government sponsored programs, etc. TiE has to find a way to work with all of them and find its own unique niche to add value.
Radha Jalan, Founding Charter Member
Even though 2017 may be different than 1997, basic premise behind TiE is still valid, providing more opportunities for risk-takers with big ideas.
Ramesh Kapoor, Founding Charter Member
We can increase membership in non IT areas.
Santhana Krishnan, Early Charter Member
Over the last two decades the entrepreneurial environment has changed – younger entrepreneurs, shorter product development cycles, larger investments and rapid wealth creation. In addition, Boston investors are more conservative than their Silicon Valley counter parts, so we should figure out how to create a better ecosystem that keep entrepreneurs and companies here in Massachusetts.
I think environment is the same. Idea to IPO would be harder as more involved in innovations and not just in Boston and United States but all over the globe. TiE Global has opened up this entrepreneurial door to many and innovations and competitions are harder. In 1997, folks were looking for technology , software , new hardware and economy was stable so venture funds were easy.
The biggest breakthrough in entrepreneurial basket now is life sciences, health care, biotech , pharma industry and marrying technology with all others. I feel very proud of the fact that in 1997, I proposed and worked towards this vision – the first specialized sub specialty in entrepreneurship. Biotech, life sciences and health care now seems to be most important things in entrepreneurship. Good thing about this is that we are marrying innovative technology in heslthcare, IT – HER, telemedicine, robotics, artificial intelligence, surgical and other diagnostic tools, virtual reality, drug development at faster pace, improving the health and hopefully reduce the cost with safety and much more.
Gautam Prakash, Former President
I think TiE-Boston has to always be customer-centric and be thinking about what value-add can it bring to its customers? There are many more mentoring options now for budding entrepreneurs, so TiE-Boston has to compete with these other choices, especially as entrepreneurs are always stretched for time. But, I do feel the core mission of TiE around mentorship is not likely to change – the key is to get charter members to be engaged in the organization’s work and to offer their time, expertise and advice to both new entrepreneurs and even to each other.