The Indus Entrepreneurs (Tie) Conference 2011 themed Innovation Reigns at the Santa Clara Convention Center on Friday and Saturday May 13 and 14 attracted over 3000 participants from all over the globe.
From new entrepreneurs wishing to learn the ropes of the game via one on one meetings, informative panel discussions and power connect sessions to venture capitalists seeking great business ideas-the annual Tie conference is a pilgrimage of sorts for entrepreneurs in myriad stages of their ventures, angel investors, venture capitalists, lawyers and others.
The information packed panels like Path to Profits-How to be Discovered, Gain Scale and Make Profits in Mobile and The Power to Teams-How to Manage Uncertainty and Competition to Your First Startup-Getting Things Right and The Next Big Mobile Trends and Opportunities featured experts who presented a wealth of knowledge in their areas of expertise and experience.
The conference opened with a keynote by Steve Case, co founder of AOL and currently the chairperson of the Startup America Partnership and co chair of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship-efforts towards celebrating and accelerating entrepreneurship in the US.
Beginning his talk with the slow rise of AOL, Steve iterated the virtues of patience and perseverance for entrepreneurs.
“It took almost a decade for AOL to hit its stride. Sometimes businesses take time to gain traction and patience is very necessary. It is vital to recognize your market, finding a pragmatic strategy to enter and provide a unique value for your customers,” said Steve who is currently involved in mobilizing resources to help entrepreneurs.
“To keep people focused on the core business is the key. You have to get the hiring right to keep the magic going. Our bias is to do a fewer things and stay hands on,” he added.
On investments in startups, Steve pointed at his preference towards investments in ideas rather than teams. “Vision without execution is hallucination. Maturity, discipline and recognizing the need to bring in great people without feeling threatened are some of the important characteristics for growing a company,” commented Steve.
Parallel panel sessions covering topics like VC Perspectives on Investing in Social Media and How to Raise Smart Money and Apply Lean Startup Principles followed the keynote.
“If you tend to raise too much money, you tend to do stupid things,” said Mehdi Maghsoodnia, CEO of Bookrenter in the session on How to Raise Smart Money and Apply Lean Startup Principles. “I focus on the person that I am getting involved with rather than the size of the fund. In my experience, 90% of the startup failures were because of the board,” added Mehdi.
“You have to have a clear roadmap for success in a venture. Firstly build a product and find people who will pay for it and then seek funding for scaling,” suggests Mehdi.
“Validation of my business concept after the first round of funding is very essential for raising the next round. It is harder to get customers today because they have many options and you have to be very tenacious about testing,” suggests Sean Ellis, CEO Freejit.
Presenting the VC perspective on initial and series funding in new ventures, Navin Chaddha, Managing Director at the Mayfield Fund commented, “Startups that are customer centric and sustain a DNA of learning with a well defined matrix for growth and change in case things do not work out while keeping the burn rate low are good candidates for funding.”
The speakers also emphasized the need for entrepreneurs to do their due diligence on venture capitalists before accepting funding. “It is a relationships business in which chemistry is very important,” said Sean.
“Startups die less of starvation and more out of indigestion,” commented Navin.
Explosion of social media and opportunities in the data-mining sector and the business intelligence angle of the available deluge of social content were some other interesting perspectives presented from the experts.
Day one of the conference concluded with a keynote from Vinod Khosla who spoke on some path changing alternative energy initiatives that are likely to alter dependence on oil and the energy landscape in the next decade.