Sunday, May 25, 2008

Startup city event in Bangalore

Yesterday I attended 'Startup city' event organized by SmartTechie magazine. More than 40 companies showcased their products and services in the event. There were many interesting keynote addresses and panel discussions held as a part for the event.

The event was kick started with inaugural keynote by Ashish Gupta from Helion Venture partners. He spoke about various stages/milestones of a startup and challenges at each phase. His venture capital firm has invested in many of the early stage entrepreneurial ventures. I have heard Ashish's pod cast some time back, but it was a good experience listening to him live. Followed by that there were some panel discussions with participants from companies like Microsoft, Sun, Amazon etc. I was not that interested in listening to them, primarily because they perspective changes (or rather looks out of phase) when big company's senior executives start talking about entrepreneurship.

The real cool thing was the product demos from many startup companies, who have built great technology products. Almost all of them have good product, have already raised capital (self/angel/VC funded) and gained initial traction with customers. I personally know the promoters of companies like Sloka Telecom and NGPay and it was nice meeting them, with their products in deployment stage.

It was 11:45 and I got back into the auditorium for the concluding keynote address by Rajendra K Mishra. He is an entrepreneur, turned activitist (by winning the Lead India campaign organized by Times of India). He is currently working on various private-public-partnerships and leading 'change India' campaign. He shared his entrepreneurial experiences in his keynote address, which was really scintillating. He started his first venture of selling imported American trailer houses to Japan. He came across crazy issues but successfully pulled it off. Followed by that venture, he built three ventures and made successful exits.

Then he started discussions about politics and the role of educated, urban Indians in that. He re-iterated that middle class Indians are the major culprits for the current state of affairs as majority of them won't vote. Added to that he explained some of the initiatives he has taken with politicians, bureaucrats, and corporates to make things better. If not for anything, he has got a great communication and convincing skills. With his clear headed thoughts, he will make a difference for sure.

Compared to other entrepreneurial/startup events, this was by-far a mature one I have seen. Loads of importance and discussions happened around raising capital, marketing strategies and acquiring initial set of customers rather than talking about "that great cool idea". I was also able to see and connect with folks from Open-coffee-club and Startup Saturday.

Last but not the least! The growth of event organizers (SmartTechie magazine) is been amazing. I have been associated with some of them from the time they launched their Bangalore edition in 2005. Initially started off with career workshops and tech career advising, the magazine has grown well over the years by covering various other aspects like entrepreneurship and professional networking. I had written couple of articles for them some time back. Hope will write some more in the near future.

It was a nice event packed with loads of energy, enthusiasm and passion. The first half of this Saturday was really worth spending out there.

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