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    Published On : Sun, Oct 25th, 2015

    TieCON 2015 begins on a high note of optimism

    The sixth Tiecon of TIE, Nagpur began this morning on the theme of “The New AGe Entrepreneurship”. It was a large and impressive gathering of international level entrepreneurs, investors, start ups, Nagpur’s tomorrow’s- tycoons and Engineering and Management students (From which pool the tycoons will come!)

    It was a mixed gathering but the spirit was young with the average age of the speakers not exceeding 35, one would estimate. Some of those who have already made the journey and reached the pinnacle of success were not more than 25 years old; they could be easily mistaken for delegates who had come to learn from successful ‘Gurus’. But instead they were the Achievers who were listened to with rapt attention by people twice their age.

    The conference began on a high note with the talk by Raveen Sastry, the true Start-up guru with large scale start ups like Babyoye, Hoopos, Myntra Design and NudgeSpot under his belt. He narrated his experiments with online, offline and then again online marketing of merchandise. “You have to think like an 18 years old and the have the same capacity to Grind and learn, fall and get up, enjoy the learning process and never say die” he said. “You cannot discount the luck factor also” he admitted but then “you have to woo Lady Luck ardently before she falls for your charms”.

    Kaushal Sarda CEO of Kuliza spoke next about the growth of his his web/ mobile based products that are driven by data and solving some real problems. He has specialized in Product management, product positioning and product marketing with user-interface designs and web applications.

    Explaining a concept everyone could relate to, he said in the e world of the Big four – Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal and PayTM, you can grow big time by being a part of their network and joining hands. (But a Speaker who came in the following session, youngest speaker of the day Pratik Doshi, Founder of Cheeky Chunk Umbrellas cautioned about the pitfalls that can come from depending on these big guys to market your products. His experience showed that you can suddenly have the carpet yanked from under your feet when you depend on them too much).

    The one important point though that you could take away from Kaushal’s talk was that in the competition with international franchises like Dominoes and Pizza Hut a local Pizza shop run by an Italian lady working alone in Banglore can create a good niche market for itself by making a product that people come to love. Once this customer affection is gained you can use Hyperlocal marketing as a tool to leverage your products. (A similar example of this in Nagpur is Pizzenia run by our own Nagpurian Neelima Sood Kaparia, which is already insanely popular with the city youngsters).

    This session was followed by words of wisdom from Ace management wizard Dr. Charan Singh, Professor of IIM, Banglore. He is a very senior management faculty of the country and he minced no words in stating categorically that India and Indians have a long way to go internationally before we can begin resting on our laurels.

    “We are so proud of our one Satya Nadella, but why are there so few of him?” Proff Singh asked. “We can at the most name 6 Indians who are CEOs of big international companies… this number is too little in my eyes, When India has been exporting its best technical brains from various IITs for 40 years and best management brains from IIMs for 30 years what have they got to show for themselves?” He confessed frankly that Indians are yet to develop the Killer instinct and the fire within to not become contended and stop striving. “There is passion but not the meticulous planning and the sustained hard work required to follow lofty goals. Thus we are far behind in applying for and getting patents. Where is the R&D?”

    Despite this, he said India was judged the country having the highest growth rate in the world today – it is the fasted growing economy and will far surpass China in growth rate by 2020. Our governments need to provide the right atmosphere to foster this growth, he said.
    A big dampener for the Indian growth story is that female participation is low. This needs to be changed.

    Pramod Choudary of PRAJ, a big success story of Western Maharashtra that began with a small farmer’s son of Kopargaon taluka ( the sugar districts) whose business now strides across the world, spoke candidly of the ups and downs his business has seen in the last 4 decades it has been operational. He began with the notion of making some thing from agri produce and thus decided on Ethanol production. This is now considered a safe additive to fast decreasing fossil fuels like petrol which is renewable.

    His success story is such that despite maintaining a low profile he has had Vinod Khosla from USA and Ratan Tata investing in his company. But his ideology is that ‘Cash is King’ and he now depends on in company financing to fuel all future growth.

    The post lunch session had young speakers like Pratik Doshi, Piyush Somani and Santosh Panda keeping the audience enthralled with their talks.

    The very young Pratik had the audience hanging on his every word as he narrated his story of setting up Cheeky Chunk Umbrellas the brilliant but simple idea of glamorizing the humble umbrella. He is a 100% Mumbai guy and knows how important a role monsoons play in Mumbai life…he wanted to combine this quintessential Mumbai phenomenon with other Mumbai favorites like Wada pav, Mumbai graffiti and other symbols of urban life of the metropolis.

    He got a designer to make some unique designs and approached local umbrella makers to manufacture the umbrellas for him. Sounds simple enough. But he got the first shock of his life as an entrepreneur when 250 of his first lot of 300 umbrellas were defective! Umbrelllas were either not opening and shutting properly, were torn or designs were misprinted. He then went about learning the entire nitty gritties of umbrella making and sat with the Producer when second batch was made.

    He then around on foot in Mumbai looking for shops who would stock his umbrellas. He tried every trick and avenue of marketing and faced many set backs for every mile gained. He narrates one instance in the second year of his operations when a guaranteed order of 3000 umbrellas by a big e commerce company was suddenly cancelled because the Manager quit his job and Pratik was feeling hysterical with the hopelessness of it all.

    He went out for a walk in the rain – without an umbrella – and looked up at the pouring sky and laughed ( at God and himself). When he came back home, his online orders had mysteriously gone up ten times in an hour! That was like a divine sign and he hasn’t looked back since then…

    Santosh Panda Founder and CEO of Explara has a similar story of luck and misfortune playing constant hide and seek with him. Based in London as a working professional he began companies based in India which he remote managed from there. He was discouraged by investors both in India – because he lived in London – and Europe – because his business was based in India! But he continued striving at it with great hardship to him and his family, whom he sometime had to leave behind in India because he could not afford taking them back to UK. He had to beg and borrow money from friends when he hit rock bottom. But ultimately his perseverance paid off and now he helps hold 10,000+ events in 21 countries and even attendees are from 64 countries. He has now built a world class event platform and the same investors who declined him funding are running after him with money!

    The final story was of Piyush Somani Founder and CEO of ESDS Software Solutions Pvt. Ltd. who is a world innovator in the Cloud technology and holds an award for Innovation in Cloud Technology.

    A company that began in Nasik now has Data centres in Chicago, Montreal, Leeds in UK and Banglore.

    His example shows that with hard work and burning the candle at both ends – sleeping just 4 hours a day – and working day and night in his office going home just once a week, he had his destiny change in just 3 months.

    One day he had hit rock bottom with all his family’s Bank accounts standing at zero balance and in three months he was buying cars for his employees!

    His is a complete technology based company giving the lie to the notion that Indians are bad or lacking in R&D or Design.

    ….Sunita Mudaliar

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