Power-packed panel provides thrust to entrepreneurial aspirations at TechSparks 2011 Regional Round Table Delhi


Three wise men and one awesome woman who have been, there done that in addition to the inspirational Micromax represented by one of its cofounders Rahul Sharma filled the power-packed panel discussion on “Out of the Garage and into the Market” at the Regional Round Table at IIT-Delhi right after an ex tempore, matter-of-fact, inspirational account of Micromax that Rahul Sharma ran through the audience earlier.The four panelists – Vijay Shekhar Sharma of one97, Mohit Bhatnagar of Sequoia, Vivek Agarwal of English Edge (Liqvid), and Rita Soni of Nasscom Foundation – could be Page 3 celebrities on any day, as one of the audience member put it. Vijay gave an account of his experience of a techie sales vs professional sales. The professional sales guy closed a deal that was in favor of his startup whereas he as a sales guy lost to the customer’s demands. Mohit Bhatnagar’s wisdom was valuable. In his experience, he found that two-member founder teams were most successful. Vivek said startegy is all about making decisions and finding your niche – what you can do and what you cannot do. Rita Soni drew a connection to the social entrepreneurial opportunities that now have gotten bigger with a slew of funding opportunities.

Vijay said, “if you are facing a lot of hardship, probably you are doing it right.” For one go-to-market strategy, Vivek replied, it is about identifying your niche. He also quoted Steve Jobs in stating just get your product out into the market and then improve it on customer feedback instead of perfecting it at the lab level. Mohit felt that startups should focus on cash flow as cash is king. It is crucial for the survival of the startups. He also added that there is sometimes negative pressure on the investors to invest money on companies. So investors are having a lot of money to invest and it is that the pitch has to be right. Many factors determine success of a pitch – the presentation on that day, the investor’s mindset, etc.

Fielding questions from the audience, the panel members gave answers that were sparking interest and insightful in depth. Answering on sector-specific questions, Vijay wanted the entrepreneur to write to him in detail. Rahul Sharma repeated his earlier philosophy of finding what the customer wants and fulfilling their needs for success at the marketplace. The Q&A session stretched and panel members were available even after the session to interact with the entrepreneurs. As @diademtech put it, it was an afternoon well spent for the entrepreneurs.

There were 10 bloggers who live tweeted the event along with participants and other enthusiasts from other parts of the country. #tsparks was trending for close to three hours nationally. For all the wisdom of the panel, just have a look at the Twitter stream: http://twitter.com/#!/search/%23tsparks

Photo credit: @mgirotra

--Venkatesh Krishnamoorthy, chief evangelist