TiE SoCal bounces back

Ritu Jha-

 

Anshuman Sinha had big plans when he took charge as the president of TiE SoCal in 2020. Then the pandemic hit.

Along with the loss of lives came the loss of livelihood as many businesses shut down or struggled to survive. However, a year after, Sinha sounded a little more confident things were good enough to host the TiEcon Southwest 2021, his group’s annual conference.

While things have not been easy, one index of its growth during his two-year term as president, was that charter membership has grown from 47 to 161 and that the group has launched TiE SoCal Angels Fund II.

Established in 1997, TiEcon Southwest 2021, held Dec. 5 in Cerritos in Southern California, brought together over 200 local CEOs, CXOs, Angel investors, VCs, community leaders, trailblazers, business leaders, and entrepreneurs, tech engineers, and startup leaders.

TiEcon Southwest 2021, held Dec. 5 in Cerritos in Southern California.

Keynote speakers like Paresh Shah, CEO, and co-founder at Glimpulse, who says he was inspired by the Dalai Lama, addressed how to be a lifter leader during these tough times, calling people to lead a “whole life,” and connect with others using “our entire self and not just specific technical skills and talent.”

The Women Investors panel addressed the imbalance within the startup and capital ecosystem when it comes to funding women founders, and the need to increase the number of women involved in startup investment.

Sinha, who received the Catalyst of the year award by Traction Labs, a new product and technology incubator based in Southern California in an interview with indica discussed the challenges he faced as chapter president during the pandemic, said, “I took over, and COVID happened. I was scratching my head about what I could do. Everything was closed. There were no people on the road. So I thought, let’s move to digital. We started to do all our programs digitally. That really helped to connect during the pandemic. Everybody was talking about their struggles, and we were coming up with solutions… We started working on the psychological well-being of our members.”

But he saw people were not renewing their charter memberships. When he was elected unopposed as president, this has been one of his goals.

“I started calling all my existing charter members, asking them, what are you looking for, why are you a charter member. Unless I understand their needs, I cannot create programs… They gave me a couple of ideas… I spoke with every charter member.”

Sinha says membership ultimately grew because they made the chapter a fun group rather than a very high-end professional teaching unit.

“There are special interest groups we created, like poker and golf, so that many charter members could join, play – and business negotiations happen,” Sinha said.

He also asked the members to give the ‘first right of refusal to charter members’, when dealing with any kind of business.

He cites the case of a few real estate brokers who are charter members.  “We say, if you are looking for a real estate investment or new home, give them a chance – with a financial planner, digital marketing team, software, or attorneys,” Sinha said.

Everyone also said they want to invest in startups, and so Shankar Ram, chair of TiE SoCal Angels and former TiE SoCal president, also set up a “startup founder.”

Sinha has been involved with TiE SoCal since 2014, but(then) he joined as a volunteer. Sharing his personal experience with TiE and lessons learned, Sinha said he started getting connected on the global level and started seeing what all the happening (TiE) chapters are doing, what can be adapted, and what new things can be brought to the table. As each TiE chapter has its uniqueness: [different] abilities based on their geographical constraints, membership profiles, and type of business.

He said the membership is not limited to just locals. TiE SoCal charter members can come from any place. There are two from Dallas, two others from Silicon Valley, one from Malaysia, and two from India.

When asked about the TiE SoCal Angels, Sinha said that TiE SoCal has also partnered with the Indian government’s Startup India initiative, aimed at taking U.S. investment to that country.

“A dollar goes a long way and it also raises credibility that I have investors from the U.S. in my company,” Sinha said. “We have invested in five Indian startups this year. [There will be] even more in the next 12 months we would be investing more in startups.”

The TiE SoCal Angels has invested in earth science companies, agro tech, medical devices, med tech, and SaaS, to name a few. They have also invested in India-based startups in smart credit cards and entertainment.

Sharing about the amount TiE SoCal fund startups, Sinha said it’s between $50,000 and $200,000, with a maximum of $250,000. It has raised $1.15 million and invested in 12 companies. On August 14, 2021, they started TiE SoCal Angels Fund II, with 85 funding members, and in November 2021, hosted TiE SoCal Investor Summit as well.

“We have commitments of $3 million and over $1 million is already in our bank, because we made the first cash call. We have started listing new startups already,” Sinha informed, TiE SoCal Angels Fund II will be investing $150,000 in Eco Soul that offers kitchenware made from 100% organic bamboo.