American Tamil Entrepreneurs Association (ATEATM) is a business-focused organization of professionals across the globe. It is a non-profit 501(c)(3), non-political, non-partisan membership-based organization that fosters entrepreneurship among youth, women and emerging business professionals. ATEA’s mission is to create a platform for exchanging business ideas, seeking mentorship, investments, making connections, and creating an atmosphere for entrepreneurial thinking.
The roots of ATEA go back to July 2015 when the annual FETNA conference took place in San Jose. A parallel event focused on innovation and entrepreneurship had over 600 people attending. The event brought together successful entrepreneurs, leading executives, startup founders, and industry professionals for keynotes, panel discussions, startup 101 sessions and youth mentoring. In the room were founders who had created companies’ worth over $70b in valuation. Over 30 of these stayed back and mentored 100+ youth. Since then, the conference has been successfully held in New Jersey, Minneapolis, Dallas and Chicago. In addition, there have been several entrepreneurship-focused regional MeetUps – with over 5000 people attending these events till date.
ATEA, Silicon Valley has conducted several regional events with keynotes by Sridhar Vembu (Zoho), C.K. Kumaravel (Naturals), Sramana Mitra (1m x 1m), M.R. Rangaswami (Indiaspora), Chandar Pattabhiram (CMO, Coupa). Attendees (who are all aspiring Entrepreneurs / Professionals) have been inspired by topics on technology, leadership, lessons learned, career growth.
The recent visit of the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu spurred further momentum and attention on the Tamil diaspora. ATEA was successful in arranging the signing of over 30 MOUs (in both the East Coast and West Coast) between companies in the US and the Government. of Tamil Nadu (GoTN). With a combined value of over $100m in commitments, the GoTN is motivated to seeing successful closure for these efforts. The Guidance Bureau (within GoTN) has committed to issue grants to startups (upto 10% of the investments raised by them) up to $6m.
In addition, the Government of Tamil Nadu has signed an MOU to retain ATEA as the US Desk to help facilitate and accelerate the growth of startups in India (particularly Tamil Nadu) to promote innovation and expansion. ATEA’s Digital Accelerator will be the platform to enable this exchange of information. The CM officially launched the ATEA Digital Accelerator at the Investors Meet.
Jags Kandasamy, co-founder and CEO of Latent AI says, “I started my entrepreneurial journey in Chennai, Tamil Nadu with the Government as my first customer. My association with ATEA helped me start my new venture. “
Lena Kannappan, COO of 8kMiles and co-founder of ATEA says, “”The founding principles for starting ATEA is to foster entrepreneurship by providing mentorship and creating an eco-system for investments. The agreement with the Govt. of TN is certainly a step in the right direction. With the attention that ATEA can provide, the seeds sown here are bound to germinate and facilitate a healthy environment for startups – both in the US and in Tamil Nadu.”
[Prakash Narayan, serves at ATEA as Silicon Valley Executive Committee member. A BITS Pilani alumni, Narayan after earning degree in MTech and Computer Science from IIT, Delhi worked for over two decades at Sun Microsystems, before he co-founded Micello. He is a member of the Angel Investor group Keiretsu Forum, and also volunteers his time in several organizations, including TiE Silicon Valley].