Entrepreneurs at TIEcon 2012 define the way forward to tackle challenges

International Panel-How to Build a Micro Multi-National

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Santa Clara, California – The IT industry received a nudge to rethink innovation and move beyond the ongoing rebundling process as the first keynote address got under way at The Indus Entrepreneurs Conference (TIEcon) 2012 on Friday, May 17 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.

“Intellectual renewal of a large company is not only about the products that we work on, but how we work,” said Vishal Sikka, head of Technology and Innovation for SAP, during the first keynote of the conference, urging, “Let’s stop wasting time on things that add no value and let’s do something purposeful with our lives.”

On a question about the influence of his growing up in India, Sikka said, “There’s a sense of respect for traditions that at least my generation had. Things like recycling that started here in the US relatively late were kind of a given when we were growing up in India. A sense of respect for resources.”

With more than 3000 in attendance from the US and other parts of the world, including India, UK and Mexico, Sikka aptly noted, “Great goals keep teams together, even if they are geographically diverse. The flow of talent across borders will continue.”

The panels were as varied as on entrepreneurship, cloud, energy, mobile, health, life sciences and the social fields and the speakers as eclectic as the different fields being represented while addressing the trends, business scope, investment opportunities, and the best practices in these myriad fields.

“Facebook and twitter are great platforms for app developers to distribute their wares, because of authenticity of user identities and information sharing that minimizes risk,” opined social media panel participant CEO Brendan Wallace on emerging trends and Investment opportunities.

The experts agreed that authenticity, distribution, and data of Facebook are invaluable assets and that commercial harvesting and using of data is in its infancy and a huge business opportunity. 

“Collaborative consumption in spaces like transportation and shopping is a big opportunity,” said Raj Kapoor, the managing director of Mayfield.

“The voluntarily shared information by the users will take the waste out of advertising and will make it more focused in the years to come,” added Kapoor.

Similarly, in the panel on the future of mobile gaming, Karl Mehta, founder and CEO of Playspan (Visa) said, “The current crop of social games is very elementary, shallow, light weight games. The high quality, deep rooted games to attract serious gamers are yet to come.”

“Mobile is the new frontier for social gaming and an important part of our investment strategy,” added Rick Thompson, an investor and entrepreneur with Signia Capital.

In the panel on scaling a business and growing internationally, industry leaders shared best practices and ideas on success in international arenas.

“Don’t go global for the sake of it. Master your first market first, before expanding. Make sure that you have the right trigger points for expansion,” said oDesk CEO Gary Swart. “We leveraged the internet to tap talent across borders as there’s a demand for cutting edge talent and also supply of that talent, but not at the same geographic location.

“The biggest mistake a startup can make is lack of focus,” added Swart.

A key new initiative at the conference this year was the youth forum, where young entrepreneurs, including Vikas Gupta of Jambool (acquired by Google in 2010) and Cameron Cohen of CCC Development, shared their stories of launching their businesses and lessons they learned on the way.

The two day conference ended on Saturday May 18 evening with a mesmerizing keynote by Sam Pitroda, Advisor to the Prime Minister, Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations.

Calling on young generation to take over and provide a “different breed of politicians than what we have had in the past,” Pitroda stressed the “need to further liberalize, we need a lot more reforms.”

“We have done a great deal under the leadership of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, but unfortunately we do not get the credit for any of it,” lamented Pitroda, noting, “We have RTI, which is a huge thing in India.”

Listing three fundamental challenges in India, Pitroda said the first is “disparity between rich and poor, urban and rural and educated and uneducated. We have to narrow that gap.”

“Second is demography – we have 550 million young – under 25. What do we do with their education, health etc.? This is the workforce of the world and policies have to be in line for this populace,” said the advisor to Indian PM.

Pitroda said the third challenge was “growth and development,” noting, “Without growth, we cannot address poverty. We have to grow at 9.5% growth rate for the next 20 years to make a dent in poverty.”

Highlighting different programs and initiatives jointly undertaken by Washington and New Delhi to “democratize information as much as possible,” Pitroda said, “This will be offered to nations in Africa and Latin America also.”

Rejecting the US model based on consumption, Pitroda preferred, “a model that is affordable, scalable and sustainable – a new business model,” adding that such a low cost model would not only work for India but would also be useful for the US.

“Our job in the next 20 years is to focus on growth and to give the Indian youth the skills that they need to become the workforce of the world. We need to focus on Indian model of development focused on the bottom of the pyramid,” explained Pitroda.

There are about 400 million Indians below the poverty line and Pitroda aptly noted, “India is not about creating more billionaires, but India is about taking millions and millions out of poverty into a respectable standard of living. This is the real challenge and we believe that technology and innovation will be the key to lift them out of poverty and that’s where we need help from the US.”

Celebrating the passion and the perseverance of entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and around the world, TiEcon 2012 lived true to its reputation of being a premier annual event and the largest convention in the world dedicated to entrepreneurs.

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