New TiE Silicon Valley president wants to mentor young talent


AGK Karunakaran, the new president of The IndUS Entrepreneurs (TiE) Silicon Valley, plans to attract to the organization would-be entrepreneurs among millennials and generation z.

TiE SV one of the world’s largest not-for-profit organizations, founded in 1992 by Indian Americans with the mission to foster entrepreneurship globally.

Karunakaran’s two-year term as president starts Jan 6.

He is the president and CEO at MulticoreWare.

A serial entrepreneur and investor who serves on the boards of several non-profits, Karunakaran told indica News that he wants to focus on four main things: TiE under 40; collaborations with TiE partners; making TiE SV a landing pad for global and local entrepreneurs; and charter member engagement, retention, and recruitment.

I want to focus on TiE under 40, bringing the vibrancy and bring younger entrepreneurs — whether people are born and brought up here or come here to study,” said Karunakaran.

TiE under 40 has multiple facets, he said.

One, of course, is for high school students learning about entrepreneurship in a 10-week bootcamp. It’s called TiE Young Entrepreneurs (TYE). These events give them some learning opportunities,” Karunakaran said.

There is also TiE university for older students — people in their 20s and 30s exploring to become entrepreneurs post college.

We at TiE want to support each student — in their teens or twenties or thirties,” he said.

TiE under 40, he stressed, focuses on mentorship and networking.

Charter member engagement and recruitment are also important, he said, “because ultimately charter members are giving back; it is very important. They spend time educating others and mentoring others.”

He said that when TiE started, primarily for the South Asian diaspora, there was no such support.

But these days there are so many entrepreneurial support organizations and incubators in Silicon Valley and other US states, so TiE has to work together with them and collaborate with them and not see them as competition.

So, TiE is benefiting entrepreneurs and they benefit entrepreneurs and therefore we are partners and deliver value to them,” he said.

TiE SV already has TiE Angels, and then there are incubators that we know also leverage TiE in many ways. For example, a company got selected by Y Combinator and when they are ready to raise money, they could, come to TiE Angels or even the venture capital associated with TiE for funding.”

The TiE’s ‘Ask Series’, Karunakaran said, is about educating entrepreneurs.

Karunakaran, who came to the United States in his twenties in 1988 to work at HCL Technologies as an engineering manager, said that TiE helped him to be an entrepreneur.

His association with TiE Silicon Valley started in 1995 when he was working with Opti Inc. Since then, TiE became a regular meeting and networking place. He soon joined as a member and a couple of years later became an entrepreneur.

I see everyone comes together… it offers a learning and networking opportunity,” said Karunakaran, who also played a big role in the now thriving Chennai TiE chapter.

Sharing the secret sauce of success in the Chennai Chapter, he said: “You learn to trust each other well.”

Karunakaran has served on the TiE board, as a co-convener for the 2015 TiECon, and became a charter member in 2001.

He believes in sharing his wisdom and giving back.

You share your wisdom because you don’t want another entrepreneur to make the same mistakes you made,”he said. “They can make a new mistake but if I get a nugget from another charter member as an entrepreneur then that goes a long way; sometimes mistakes cost a lot of time and money.”

The more you learn the more you avoid those mistakes,” he said.

Asked what kept him associated with TiE for so long, Karunakaran said: “ I viewed it as an institution to develop me as an individual; because it is about constant learning.”

After I became a charter member, the CEO forum helped me learn how to handle the growth of my company, whether to raise venture money. It’s very, very valuable experiential learning,” he said.

You talk to people, you learn and they will help.”

He said now TiE has over 61 chapters globally, and Silicon Valley sets the reference baseline for other chapters to follow.

“We have this year started the TiE Advisory program, for those in India who have gained some traction for their business and are looking at a global market and physical presence in Silicon Valley,” he said.

The TiE’s flagship event, TiECon is scheduled for May 6 through 8 this year.