How Can We Keep The Conversation Going?

We had great un-conference, the first ever in TiE Chennai, yesterday. The energy and enthusiam were awesome. It is nice to see people engaged, deep in discussions. The whole thing was self organized. You decided the topics, you participated in discussions, you hung around in hallways and started conversations.  There were some great discussions.

I will write a few blogs about the event and the sessions. But one question keeps popping up in my mind. How can we harness the energy and enthusiasm and keep the conversation going? I have listed a couple of my thoughts below. Please feel free to add yours to this list though comments here or elsewhere.

  1. More frequent unconference style sessions with specific themes (say once a month)
  2. Theme based mini-meets
  3. An active online forum (we will start a Google group ASAP)
  4. A knowledge sharing wiki (we will use Google sites which is a bit less geeky)
  5. A Google Moderator for voting up/down topics for discussions for these events

There are a few other thoughts related to working with other organizations.

  1. How can we work with NEN, Nasscom, Chennai Open Coffee Club, The Startup Centre and other organizations in Chennai that attract entrepreneurs?
  2. How can we work with other communities to cross pollinate ideas? Automobile, bio and a few others were mentioned during the wrap-up session. Energy was already there.
  3. How can we seed the unconference sessions with experts who enrich the session value?
  4. Should we keep it smaller or make it bigger?
  5. Should we charge and try to include some expert sessions and keynotes?
  6. How do we spread the word to make sure that people who can start conversations can all attend?
  7. How can we keep the essential lightweight nature in planning and running the event?

I am sure there are hundreds of other ideas. Please pitch in. As a follow up, we are planning to have an unconference style breakout session at TiECon.

Thank you all for being part of it. Let us continue the conversations.

10 thoughts on “How Can We Keep The Conversation Going?

  1. Dorai, It was a great meet no doubt. TiE is now engaging startups. Is my assumption right? To be inclusive and participative from all sectors, you should think of organizing unconferences that are on specific themes. If you want art entrepreneurs, there should be an unconference on Art with a panel discussion on how art entrepreneurs succeeded.

    If you want to include automobile sector entrepreneurs, a similar theme-based meet would help. Also focus on Chennai-based entrepreneurial activity. Recently, there were two interesting reports: Sudir Syal reporting IIT-M as a hub of entrepreneurship in the country and Times of India featuring Chennai startups. It is said that 500 software startups are created every month in Chennai as opposed to 900 in Bangalore. I am not believing in these numbers, as they seem too exaggerated. Where are the startups if there are that many of them starting up?

    Please be assured of my support in whatever form you need.

  2. Sir,
    I would like to join the Google Group too. I add below, my thoughts on entrepreneurship.

    I understand its not incorrect to say that we are world leaders in the software and services sector. Most of the Silicon Valley start-ups by Indians(including yours, sir!) were software and internet services based. China on the other hand is strong in the hardware sector. Its time for us to try and emulate their success. India needs entrepreneurs who are willing to risk and enter the hardware manufacturing arena.

    Although I’m a Geology(5 year integrated M. Sc.) major at IIT Kharagpur, I have a keen interest in robotics. I plan to have a start-up in a few years from now. The problem with hardware is that circuit design is a very challenging task. Designing and patenting a product is very difficult and hardly anybody in India(its just TRI and Robosoft Systems so far) has dared venture into this field. For a successful start-up, a dedicated and high-calibre R&D team is very important.

    If there are others interested in a start-up along similar lines, perhaps, TiE could help us connect and share technical knowledge too.


    1. Mallik,
      Just sent you an invite. Please follow @balajil on Twitter. He is an IIT Chennai student who started a robotics company. He was at the un-conference yesterday. Wish we had a session moderated by him but we will get him next time. I agree. Robotics is a great field for India usage. In fact at the innovation cell where I mentor, we have an ambitious student project for a garbage picking robot.


        1. There is no dearth of ideas. Students constantly surprise me with both their scale of thinking and vision. I think we need some local trainers and people who help implement some of their ideas.

    2. Dear Mallikarjun,
      I agree with what you said. I am a chip design engineer by background and use to live in USA. My expertise is very core hardware/semiconductor/ chip design kind, right from concept to final product implementation. As you pointed rightly getting the best guys is not an easy job. I have experience in this, because we are slowly growing our R&D division. The Govt. of India is also taking steps in order to bring about this change and creating the next generation leadership in manufacturing.

      My startup “Kaizen NanoLabs” faced various interesting challenges purely because Investors found the initial investments to be too high and gestation period too long. Hardware industry is very capital intensive and requires a different kind of DISCIPLINE and PASSION among manpower. We have finally started making inroads into the investors minds using the right mix of technology know-how, team, marketing etc. Hardware unlike software has no second chances in minor changes, once a product is made to redo all of it again even if its a small change will just drain all your resources and investments. So investors fear that a lot, but it can be changed, we have been working to reduce the cycle of errors for quite sometime now and build investor confidence.

      We at “Kaizen NanoLabs” are working on renewable energy technologies, our current focus being solar technology/ product development and manufacturing. We intend to start a production unit in India in the future. We are also working on other renewable energy technologies. The manufacturing plant is currently located in Europe and is a fully automated robotic system.

      You can contact me anytime if your interested in talking more. My e-mail id is :

      I hope you learn a lot from your experience 🙂 and possibly be of use to others.

      Take Care

      1. The last statement :
        “I hope you learn a lot from your experience 🙂 and possibly be of use to others.”

        meant :
        “I hope to learn from your experience 🙂 and possibly be of use to others to share knowledge.”

  3. Dear Mr. Abrar,
    Great to hear that. Renewable energy is one sector that India really needs to take up strongly. I would love to learn more about Kaizen NanoLabs and your products. Because I’m still in college, I have plenty of time to absorb as much knowledge as I can, before I start on my own journey:-)

    Thank you so much for replying.


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