SANTA CLARA, Calif. — There’s networking, and then there’s TiEcon.
The Indus Entrepreneurs held its 24th annual global conference at the Santa Clara Convention Center May 6 through May 7 with some of the world’s brightest minds convening to share their stories and provide advice for up-and-coming entrepreneurs looking to disrupt the market and make a name for their companies.
A laundry list of panel discussions on several tracks was bookended by keynote speeches on each of the two days at TiEcon 2016, the theme for which was “Dream. Change. Inspire.”
Day 1 of the conference featured Adobe Systems’ Indian American president and chief executive officer Shantanu Narayan and Infosys managing director and CEO Vishal Sikka as the morning’s grand keynote speakers, with JetBlue Technology Ventures president Bonny Simi the evening grand keynote speaker.
Narayan, who had previously been a panelist at TiEcon 15 years ago, kicked off the event by informing the attendees that “it’s a phenomenal time in the (Silicon) Valley to be a technology entrepreneur,” adding, “there’s more exciting innovation that’s happening in Silicon Valley today and in the tech community than ever before.”
The Adobe executive, who built his trade as an engineer, proclaimed that the wave of entrepreneurs in the area has provided him a jolt of energy, seeing a new wave integrating digital experiences with real-world personal experiences.
He believes that, as experienced throughout his career, there is a new wave evolving in enterprise disruption. While the digital experience was initially in the back office, or behind the scenes, followed by the front office, introducing the CRM systems, today is leaning toward an “experience business wave.”
“Unlike the two other waves that have happen that are mostly internally focused within an enterprise, we think that the enterprise business wave … is focused more on meeting the ever-increasing customer demands,” he explained.
Narayan urged the aspiring entrepreneurs in the crowd that new wave will result in businesses transforming in ways never seen before – potentially leading to new executive titles such as chief experience officer.
“If you could harness the power of computing … I think we as a community can make great things happen,” he concluded.
Following his speech, Narayan touched on a number of issues Adobe faced under his leadership during a 30-minute discussion with managing editor of CNBC-TV18 in India Shereen Bhan.
Sikka focused his speech on AI, offering a scope of everything going on around us.
When asked to provide advice to other companies, Sikka noted that he discusses a two-prong strategy for success: renew and new.
“Renew, on the one hand, is where you are constantly renewing your core business,” he explained, adding that you already have the core values but are constantly improving on it. “But in parallel, you have to do things that are completely new that you haven’t done before … being different.”
The combo of renew and new, Sikka concluded, allows you to develop the true core values your company has.
The insightful keynote speeches to kick of the event led to a day’s worth of panel sessions featuring some of the brightest minds in the industries. The first day of sessions featured three tracks: Internet of Things, The Future of Cloud and IT, and Data Economy.
Among the guest speakers at the sessions included Facebook head of engineering and infrastructure Jay Parikh, GE chief technology officer of GE software Harel Kodesh, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, and Cisco Systems vice president of engineering Ravinder Amanaganti, among others.
As part of the evening festivities, the recipients of the TiE50 Technology Awards were honored. Among the 50 companies honored was CallHealth Services Pvt. Ltd. as a top startup.
“We are delighted to have been selected to the TiEcon top startup list and this global recognition vindicates our unique patient centric healthcare delivery model,” the Hyderabad-based CallHealth chief executive Hari Thalapalli said in a statement. “Our integrated platform brings together physical ‘at home’ services, virtual healthcare services and information services to become a one-stop-shop for all cure, prevention and wellness needs,” he added.
Kick-starting the second day’s events was SanDisk co-founder, president and CEO Sanjay Mehrotra.
Alongside SanDisk executive vice president Sumit Sadana, Mehrotra had a casual conversation about the company’s uprising, forever changing the memory storage market, shifting the industry from hard disk to flash.
The Kanpur native discussed an impactful anecdote of how he struggled to get a visa to study for his master’s in the U.S. He got turned down three times until his father went to bat for him, persisting with the consulate to get a visa. That visit led to Mehrotra getting his visa to attend U.C. Berkeley.
“It really taught me that tenacity is key,” he said of his experience watching his father get his visa request accepted. “If you want to achieve success you must absolutely start with tenacity.”
The rest is history. SanDisk, founded by Mehrotra, Eli Harari and Jack Yuan, changed the flash industry.
The co-founders’ chemistry, as Mehrotra pointed, “was awesome,” with three immigrants from three different backgrounds coming together.
Fast forward to present day and SanDisk is in the process of finalizing the sale of its company to Western Digital for $19 billion.
Throughout the discussion, Mehrotra offered the entrepreneurs several key elements to succeed, chief among them being to make sure that venture capitalists believe in the company pitched.
Following the initial keynote, counter terrorism specialist Brian Michael Jenkins provided his insights in the second keynote. The second day’s tracks, following Jenkins’ keynote, included Destination India, Entrepreneurship, Trending Technologies, Youth and Social Entrepreneurship.
Among the speakers in various tracks throughout the day were Nir Zuk, founder and chief technology officer of cyber security company Palo Alto Networks, IBM general manager and developer of ecosystems and startups Sandy Carter, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry secretary general Dr. A. Didar Singh, Ashwin Raj of Amazon, and The Hans Foundation chair and co-founder Sweta Rawat, among others.
Zuk was particularly engaging with his audience in explaining how to build up a company, as part of the entrepreneurship track.
When starting a company, Zuk said, “You have two options: build something completely new or disrupt the market,” adding that at this point, any new company is in it to disrupt the market, as was the case with his company.
Among his advice to the entrepreneurs was to be where the company is, urging everyone that if your engineering is done in India, you should live in India otherwise “it’s not going to work.”
But his most important advice was, “Be disruptive and create and stick to a company culture.”
TiEcon featured three breakthrough thinkers speakers in the early evening – Trinity Ventures partner Anjula Acharia Bath, Stanford University Professor Hayagreeva Rao, and U.C. Santa Cruz Professor Nirvikar Singh – leading up to 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kailash Satyarthi’s grand keynote (see separate story).
A gala banquet featuring comic Don McMillan and dance and musical entertainment wrapped up the event. Qualcomm executive chairman Paul E. Jacobs was honored with the TiE Lifetime Achievement Award during the banquet.
TiE has a global network of 61 chapters located in most major North American, Asian and European countries and cities, with more than 11,500 members across 18 countries.