Key Takeaways from the Panel Discussion at TechSparks 2011 Hyderabad Regional RoundTable


The panel discussion at TechSparks 2011 Hyderabad Regional RoundTable, moderated by founder of Shradha Sharma, engaged the audience thoroughly. The panelists included - G V Ravishankar, Managing Director, Sequoia Capital, Jayaram Pillai, Managing Director, National Instruments(India, Russia, Arabia), Vimal Abraham, Strategy & Marketing, ISV & Developer Relations, IBM India, Phanindra Sama, Founder, RedBus. The energy in the room was palpable as questions flew across the room, directed at times to specific panelists.G V Ravishankar, Managing Director, Sequoia Capital busted a few VC funding myths. He mentioned that there are quite a few investors for early stage companies who are practically entrepreneurs behind the entrepreneurs. He provided a useful answer to the question, “What checklist should a startup look at before approaching a VC for funding?” Leaving your old job to run your new venture, investing your own money, selling some of your ideas/products, hiring others, or laying out a clear value proposition could be some of the ways employed to convince those listening to your idea.” He left the audience with a couple of questions that entrepreneurs should ask themselves, “What market problem are you trying to solve? Why are you solving it(beyond personal gain)?”

Jayaram Pillai, Managing Director, National Instruments(India, Russia, Arabia) said that NI encourages entrepreneurial engineers seeking support and tools. National Instruments builds products for engineers and scientists and considers providing support to engineers. “We provide engineers with support and tools to build products. In India, these tools are expensive but we provide them to entrepreneurs so that something of value is built using their help.” His advice to the entrepreneurs and future entrepreneurs in the room - people are important, so hiring right, is key to your organizational growth.

Vimal Abraham from IBM India emphasized the need for startups with global ambitions and those that are trying to solve real-world problems. “We at IBM are looking for partners to build a smarter planet” he highlighted. He went on to explain how IBM can support entrepreneurs in the early areas of evolution - highlighting product, people, promotions, and financing as some of these areas. “What market problem are you solving? You don’t have to solve the whole problem yourself. Partner with key players at an early stage and build on existing frameworks,” he advised entrepreneurs.

Phanindra Sama, founder of redBus, felt that it is important to depend on the problem you are trying to solve, wait to find someone who is interested in what you are doing, and then gain access to resources, mentors and investors. “Hiring the right people is important as well as challenging”, he added. “Just be yourself”, was his parting note to the entrepreneurs in the room.

For more insights from the panel discussion at TechSparks 2011 Hyderabad Regional RoundTable, please check out the #tsparks twitter stream here.

About TechSparks

A initiative to uncover and showcase innovative product technology startups from all across India. To participate in TechSparks as a contestant, register here. To attend the grand finale in Bangalore, register here.

Jessie Ruth


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