A full hall, lively discussions mark Chennai Regional RoundTable
If each part of our country is diverse, Chennai has its own DNA. Value-conscious customer, academically brilliant student, humility not to boast one’s achievements, respecting elders, and still keeping tradition while embracing modernity all this characterize a city that was built more than 350 years ago. And we stepped into the hallowed portals of IIT-M to host our first-ever event in Chennai. And at the end of it we are elated.
The response has been overwhelming. The hall was full, the audience rapidly listened to the discussions, and most of them stayed till the end not to lose a moment of it. And everyone seemed to gulp the lime mint cooler endlessly, including me, to quench the usual humid weather and the thirst.
The opening was inspirational. Building a venture is a dream and fulfilling that dream is an achievement. The IIT-M Research Park, the first of its kind in the country, had a visionary behind it. So it was appropriate that we listen to Prof. M. S. Ananth on how he achieved his dream. This should inspire young entrepreneurs to not only build companies for profit but to have a vision of enduring value that benefits a large number of people and either brings in a new system or supports an existing system. Anecdotes and stories are abound how Research Park was built overcoming not one but many a hurdle. But it is the focus on outcome and the underlying vision that helped to successfully realize a seed of thought, a dream overcoming whatever came on its way.
We had three entrepreneurs from very humble backgrounds who have made it big. So it does not matter where you come from but what you build matters. Murugavel Janakiraman from a humble North Chennai environs has now built a Web property worth crores of rupees in fulfilling needs of people getting married in the new age of globalization where communities are spread far and apart in different continents. Suresh Sambandam hails from a distant town, some 200 km from Chennai, where opportunities are not available among a largely farming community. But he broke the shackles, learned the tricks of the trade in corporate career, and jumped in to cash on his experience when the moment was right. He has got it right with OrangeScape, one of the top 10 companies in PaaS domain. Badri Seshadri, as we learned of late, is also from a distant little-known town in Tamil Nadu but he got into IIT by dint of hardwork. As he was completing PhD at Cornell, new passion took over. He abandoned his research career to build a web portal for cricket (cricinfo.com) and having successfully exited from it, his second passion of reading books led him to establish a regional publishing company New Horizon Media.
This apart, we had Mukesh Gangadhar from Intel Software explaining Intel’s new offering and Prof. R. Nagarajan and Prof. L.S. Ganesh explain opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship available in IIT-Madras. Vaidya Nathan, founder of Classle, explained his challenges of building a product in the educational space.
We had a panel discussion consisting of an investor (Aakash Goel, Sequoia), two entrepreneurs (Suresh and Badri), and two corporate executives (Vimalraj Abharam, IBM and Solaikutty Dhandabal, National Instruments). Experiences of these entrepreneurs, investor perspective and various initiatives by corporates were made available to the audience.
We thank our title sponsor Intel, VC partner Sequoia, Supporting Partners IBM and Google, Cloud partner Amazon Web Services, and TV partner CNBC-TV18 for their support. Nasscom EMERGE Community is our community partner and we thank them.
Local partners TiE Chennai and The Startup Centre helped us spread the word and we thank them sincerely. C-TIDES and CSIE, the campus partners, helped us put together the event at IIT-M campus without any hitch. We especially thank Prof. R. Nagarajan, head of CSIE, and Office of Alumni Affairs (a special thanks to Mr. Imagaran at OAA office) for providing us all the support that we needed and in offering the venue for us. Amrutash and Sahil, cofounders of Life Online, along with their colleagues milled around the campus helping us in nuts and bolts of the event. Thank you guys.
Finally, we thank all the attendees who made our day by filling the hall and staying through to listen to discussions. We hope you were enriched by the discussions. Do drop in a note to firstname.lastname@example.org what you felt about the event.
–Venkatesh Krishnamoorthy, chief evangelist