Heard at TiE Chennai Unconference Panel Discussions

At the panel on Scaling Businesses at TiE Chennai Unconference on Sep 18th.

The Panel

The panel consisted of  three charter members of TiE and two eminent people one from Thoughtworks and one from a Govt body.

  • Chandu Nair – ScopeKnowledge
  • J. Krishnan – Founder Unimity (popularly known as JK)
  • Sudeep Jain (IAS and chairman of MSME Institute, a government body),
  • Ketan –  ThoughtWorks, and
  • Raghu Rajgopal – Energeate (a serial entrepreneur and helps Chennai Fund).
  • Companies some times need to shed skin like a snake, Chandu Nair
  • Your first venture should not be capital intensive – some good advice from Sudeep
  • Scaling has been through customer reference as we had no marketing dollars – JK
  • Repeatability is very important. Can you repeat quality, delivery etc? – Raghu
  • You need to look at a model of non-linear growth – a way of building partnerships and ecosystem to grow – Ketan
  • You can grow not only by acquiring more customers but providing higher value to existing customers. Engage deeply, look at their business problems and see where you can help – Chandu Nair
  • Don’t build your business with VCs in mind – JK
  • Partners – Comfort must exist even before you start. You need to evaluate partners not only on their value system but also on their ambition levels to find a match- Raghu
  • Promotion of entrepreneurship is at a very nascent stage in India – Sudeep
  • Assess your readiness to scale. You can’t do that by just hiring a bunch of people – Raghu

Three Courses Every Engineering Institution Should Consider Adding

In addition to teaching core engineering subjects, I think we need to add three (may be optional) courses.

1. Entrepreneurship
2. Learning and Thinking
3. Innovation

The idea is to give students an appreciation of what entrepreneurship is all about. Students joining smaller start-ups learn every thing faster in the first few years (though may not make as much money).

We take both learning and thinking for granted. The best training we can give students is the ability to understand how they learn and think. We can include several aspects of thinking including critical thinking, later thinking, thinking about thinking etc. Learning to learn is taught implicitly (by just forcing them to learn a lot). Increasing awareness of learning styles, multiple intelligence will help students realize several ways to accelerate their learning.

Innovation is taking ideas and realizing an implementation (the joy of doing). Most of the labs I see repeat some standard set of problems. Why not let the students do a bit of exploration and research in problems they are interested in solving and innovate in identifying and solving problems?

Posted via email from Dorai’s posterous