SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The 27th year of The Indus Entrepreneurs Conference, or TiEcon, featured a plethora of A-list speakers at the Santa Clara Convention Center here May 10 and May 11, providing the thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs and venture capitalists with priceless information to catapult them into a successful future.
The event, hosted by TiE Silicon Valley, was themed, “Start. Connect. Scale.,” with the hope of helping entrepreneurs get a business started; help them connect with the massive network of established business heads and VCs; and guide them into scaling up their companies.
Kicking off the event was Jayshree Ullal, the chief executive officer of Arista Networks and a former Ernst & Young U.S. Entrepreneur of the Year. The Indian American executive, along with Google Cloud head of editorial Quentin Hardy, served as the first grand keynote.
Ullal provided the event-goers with a glimpse into her journey in the Silicon Valley, which dates back to 1981.
She shared some of her guiding principles, advising aspiring entrepreneurs to challenge the status quo and truly disrupt the market.
“This is really important when building something,” she said.
Additionally, she said a strong company should allow an empowered leadership group, otherwise a company would trend more corporate with distinct leadership-employee roles.
She also advised to strongly push for a well-defined business model – where to invest, etc.
Another principle she is a strong advocate for is to “focus but experiment.” Lastly, Ullal provided a simplistic principle that can make-or-break a company: “Do the right thing.”
“Even though there are business goals and revenue goals,” she said, adding: “but the greatest thing is to live for the long term, not just the short term.”
Arista reached $2 billion in revenue within two years – far faster than a number of large Silicon Valley companies. To do this, Ullal said you have to be clear in what you do and what you don’t do.
What makes a great entrepreneur? Ullal asked. She advised starting with an entrance strategy, not an exit strategy “to build a long-lasting company”; build long-lasting value and team; and return for the company – not for you, but for the VCs and founders.
To build a great company, she said one should start with the foundational disruptive technology and change it as the times dictate; build the right team; establish the best business model to define the company; establish a committed customer base; and luck, timing and momentum.
In her Q&A session with Hardy, Ullal said that quality and assurance is extremely important when attempting to grow as a company, not just developing a product to push.
Following her speech, the first three presidents of TiE honored Ullal with a plaque in recognition of her work and successes throughout her career.
Throughout the day, the tracks held in various rooms featuring panel discussions, keynote speeches and fireside chats on such topics as Smart Enterprise, Cybersecurity, Marketing and Sales, Enterprise Blockchain, HealthTech and AI/Machine Learning.
Some of the Cybersecurity tracks featured a deep dive in social networks and how it has affected political elections in the past and what needs to be done to prevent interference in the elections of the future.
The discussion of security began with a fireside chat featuring Stanford University adjunct professor and former chief security officer Alex Stamos, along with Wing Venture Capital head of research and partner Rajeev Chand.
Stamos passionately and candidly spoke about social networks and the difficult position security officers are in to prevent election interference – whether domestically or globally.
India is the most important country in the world over the next 10 years for Internet regulations, Stamos stressed during his chat.
Stamos said there is not enough security staff to go around. Beyond the Fortune 500-type companies, companies aren’t well-equipped to secure their databases, he added.
Additional Cybersecurity track speakers included CSO of Cloudflare Joe Sullivan; former Google CSO Gerhard Eschelbeck; Upstart’s Saikat Maiti; and Virsec CEO Atiq Raza.
During the afternoon, prominent leaders within the Healthcare industry spoke in several sessions. Among them were Anthem senior vice president and chief digital officer Rajeev Ronanki, chief executive officer and medical director of Beverly Hills Brain & Body Center Dr. Puneet Chandak, Divya Shah of Samsung, and Kaiser’s Manish Vipani, among others.
Ronanki, who joined Anthem – a healthcare provider insuring 40 million people – in 2018, spoke on the topic of digitizing healthcare.
He noted how exponential technologies are redefining how Anthem is able to drive growth and change. If you combine faster, cheaper computing power with networks and sensors (AI, robotics, etc.), the disruption will create new business models and ecosystems.
“We’d be able to harness it and develop things more consumer-centric,” Ronanki suggested.
Anthem is looking to digitize from a supply and demand standpoint, Ronanki said.
How to improve it could include online video visits, monitoring health at home and deploying sensor devices, among others, to make the experience more convenient for patients.
Chandak spoke of stem cell technology and how it is disrupting healthcare. He believes the technology will soon become the norm, with entrepreneurs – much like those in the crowd during the conference – being a part of making it that way.
Stem cell treatment is one “painless” injection leading to the body understanding how to cure itself, he said. Additionally, Chandak noted that stem cell treatment can lead to multiple repairs – not just a targeted approach.
Though he admittedly said he and others don’t know how stem cells work, they do work – providing evidence of real-world results.
The evening grand keynotes for Day 1 included Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor. Tharoor, who spoke about the ongoing Indian elections in an exclusive with India-West (see article here: https://bit.ly/30j1EkM), spoke on the need for innovation in India.
Indians in India are seemingly inspired by Indians across the globe residing in innovation hubs, such as Silicon Valley, to innovate themselves, Tharoor said.
“If we can get things right,” India could be the guiding force on innovation advances for the next generation, thanks to the country having the youngest median age (29) than all the other Asian countries, Tharoor stated.
“If we don’t rise to the opportunity, it could lead to a demographic disaster,” he said.
He offered a number of examples of Indian innovation that has affected millions of Indians throughout the past several decades.
“Whether we’re here in California or sitting in India, there are millions of people waiting to benefits from these types of innovations,” he said.
Day 2 featured a pair of grand keynote speakers at the onset of the day. Among the keynotes were Amneal Pharmaceuticals founder and co-chair Chirag K. Patel, as well as Tech Mahindra’s president of communication, media and entertainment business and CEO of network services Manish Vyas.
Tracks for second day included Entrepreneurship, Next Gen Mobility and Autonomous Transportation, Frontiers in Exponential Technology and Young Entrepreneurs, as well as the TiE50 Showcase.
During the morning, CanAm Investor Services vice president of the Middle East and South Asia Ahmed M. Khan, CanAm Investor Services chief compliance officer and managing director Peter Calabrese, and Darren Silver & Associates partner Anibal Sanchez laid out to the dozens in attendance their best course of action in getting a green card. The trio focused their discussion on the EB-5 visa program.
The premise of the discussion aimed to “demystify” immigration issues in the U.S. in today’s climate. Following their thoughts, they opened the floor to attendees, who peppered them with numerous specific green card-related situations they were facing.
One of the discussions during the afternoon session included a program entitled, “Around the World in 60 Minutes,” with Palo Alto, Calif.-based entrepreneur and investor Asha Jadeja Motwani, serial tech entrepreneur Jack Hidary, Gigafund managing partner Luke Nosek and NASA Ames Research Center senior research scientist Hemil Modi serving as the guest speakers.
The panel, which was moderated by Modi, was part of the Frontiers in Exponential Technology track, which also featured speakers such as former TEDx head and current Boma founder Lara Stein, Greylock partner Asheem Chandna, and Prekari Labs co-founder and CEO Anshu Sharma.
Another panel presented was entitled, “Teen Entrepreneurs: Bringing Passions to Life,” in which Aerobotics7 founder Harshwardhansinh Zala, Peersdom CEO Rohan Gupta and CodeBunnyz and CoderMindz CEO Samaira Mehta shared their journeys to entrepreneurship.
The panel was a wrap-up to the afternoon session for young entrepreneurs, following a few sessions from established entrepreneurs guiding the youngsters on how they can go about getting their respective businesses started.
CoderBunnyz is a game that teaches kids as young as 4 how to code. The 11-year-old Samaira Mehta insisted that “technology is not just the future; people are the future,” adding that the future is through code.
With her interest in coding and love of board games, she infused the two together to create what would become CoderBunnyz (see previous India-West article here: https://bit.ly/2W0AOP8). She later went on to launch the first AI board game, CoderMindz.
Gupta, a junior in high school in California, started investing since he was 11. He went on to not only start Peersdom, but started StreetFins – a firm aiming to eliminate financial illiteracy – and has worked with prominent investors and billionaires.
Zala, 16, of India, spoke of his journey which led him to founding Aerobotics7, which aims to make the world a safe place. The company built the company as a way of creating defense through technologies.
Other grand keynote speakers at the event included Marketo senior vice president of business development Steve Lucas; and Zoom Video Communications founder and CEO Eric Yuan.
Outside of the grand keynotes, other speakers included Shasta Ventures managing director Nikhil Basu Trivedi; senior vice president and general manager for healthcare and life sciences at Salesforce Ashwini M. Zenooz; U.S. Bank chief information officer Dilip Venkatachari; and actress and director Nandita Das, among many more.
In addition to the keynotes and panel discussions, the conference also featured roughly 80 companies in an Expo Hall, showcasing their businesses throughout the two-day event. Also recognized during the conference were winners of the TiE50 startup pitch contest.