Yesterday was TiECon 2008, an event organized by TiE Chennai to celebrate and recognize Entrepreneurship in the City. The event had a lot of stardom with the inauguration by Dr M. Karunanidhi, Chief Minister, Tamilnadu & Smt. M K Kanimozhi, Member of Parliament, Tamilnadu. Initially, I didn’t get the connection between Hon’ble CM and an Entrepreneurship event, then it got clear when the awards recognizing Entrepreneurship were given to eminent personalities like Mrs Y. G. Parthasarathy, Director and Dean, PSBB schools (Social entrepreneur of the year), and Dr Pratap C. Reddy, Chairman, Apollo Group of hospitals (Lifetime achievement). Ms.Kanimozhi (MP) in her speech talked about the similarities between Chennai Sangamam and TiECon but many in the audience including myself didn’t get the connection.
Other awardees were:
- R. Subramanian, Founder and Managing Director, Subhiksha (Extreme Entrepreneur of the year)
- R. Sarabeshwar, S. Sivaramakrishnan and V.G. Janarthanam, Founding Members, Consolidated Construction Consortium Ltd (Entrepreneur of the year)
- Hemu Ramaiah, CEO, Landmark (Woman entrepreneur of the year)
- S. Abhay Kumar, Founder and vice-chairman, LifeCell (large start-up entrepreneur of the year)
- Vivek Anand, CEO, FitnessOne (small start-up entrepreneur of the year)
- Raju Venkataraman, President and Chief-Operating Officer &
- Firstsource (Serial entrepreneur of the year)
There were 3-panel discussions during the day, I have just managed to cover below the first panel on Emerging Trends in the Retail Industry.
Vivek Anand of FitnessOne talked about their emphasis on excellent equipment, world-class training to trainers, hygiene, etc. He talked new opportunities that are available for Aesthetic & thrill seeking industry. And with the competition from organized retail how existing stores are upgrading to new consumer experience and the big opportunity here. He quoted that Top 10% of income group in India consume 30% of retail. A company can compete on price, compete on service, compete on innovation – but you cannot compete on all three.
G.V.RaviShankar, VP of Sequoia Capital talked about speciality stores like Coffee Day, Printo (Digital On-demand printing)
Hemu Ramaiah, CEO of Landmark Books talked about how when she started 30 years back no one heard about Outsourcing. She talked about a list of emerging outsource opportunities that budding Entrepreneurs can think of starting:
- Infrastructure (Property, Real Estate Broking, Project Management, Visual Merchandising)
- HR (Outsourcing Recruitment, Outsource People)
- Training (Even basic speaking is bad in India today, language, Skill Gaps)
- Store services (Housekeeping, Security, Software, Retail Auditing)
- Backoffice Operations / Logistics, Imports/Clearance, Buying (Sourcing Agents)
- Marketing (Analytics, Data Mining, Shopping trends and shopping habits, CRM, PR, Media Design, Event Management, Web Design Outsourcing)
- Quality (ISO Certified, Balanced Score Card, Customer Satisfaction Survey)
- Banking & Finance (VC Funds, Business Plans)
I enjoyed the last panel discussion moderated by K.Pandia Rajan, Ma Foi and he did a wonderful job in that. I liked his quote of “Punarapi Jananam, Punarapi Maranam” while saying talking about Serial Entrepreneurship. Other panellists in that session were:
- Sharad Sharma, CEO, Yahoo! India R & D
- Srinivas Balasubramanian, Chairman & CEO, Photon Infotech
- Rajesh Jain, CEO Netcore
- Mahesh Murthy, Partner, SeedFund
- Satya Prabhakar, CEO, Sulekha
Captain Gopinath in his Keynote spoke about “Dare to Dream and Do It. Most important for an entrepreneurship is to live it more than anything else. To be Uncompromising & to listen to your inner voice. To Pursue that vision to the exclusion of everything else”. He spoke about how he grew from being Army Officer to a Farmer of 40 Acres borrowed from his uncles in which he did Silk Farming, starting an Helicopter company with an ex-army colleague when India had only 20 Helicopters in civil sector and finally to his successful venture Air Deccan. He stressed on the need to Dream big and act fast. Air Deccan collects more than USD 1 to 2 Million every day. Talked about how Accenture was slow to respond when Air Deccan initially wanted them to build their e-ticketing software and then how they went with a small software company for developing in the early days.
There were other keynotes as well made by the following eminent personalities during the day.
It was educative to hear each Entrepreneurship’s struggle to a success story. Mr.Thiagarajan’s speech in Tamil (who was the exception to speak in Tamil, even CM spoke in English) was disappointing as it was nothing more than an inaugural address and was consumed in praising Tamilnadu CM.