ATEA’s hosts CATEALYZE 23, Technology and Leadership Conference

Prakash Narayan

By Prakash Narayan–

(Prakash Narayan is chief technology officer at 3K Technologies)

ATEA conducted the second edition of CATEALYZE last month at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA. The first edition was on 9/17/2022 at the historic Bell Labs venue in Holmdel, NJ. Here is our coverage of that event:

CATEALYZE 23 got off to a rousing start with an inaugural address by Saeed Amidi, Founder of Plug and Play and investor in over 30 unicorns — including DropBox and PayPal. Saeed talked about his journey from an early start as an entrepreneur in Iran as a high school student to the trial-by-fire lessons” from his uncle after he came to Silicon Valley – which ultimately prepared him to become successful.

The Opening Keynote was a Fireside Chat with Dheeraj Pandey – moderated by MR Rangaswami. Dheeraj stressed on founders having a good sense of Product Management and the importance of hiring well. His current venture, DevRev raised an $85m seed round – with participation from Khosla Ventures (Vinod Khosla) and Mayfield Fund (Naveen Chaddha).

The mission of DevRev is to empower Developers to customer conscious products – that is bring Dev(elopers) and Rev(enue) together. Dheeraj recommended two books as must-reads for all entrepreneurs: Negotiating the Impossible by Deepak Malhotra and Atomic Habits by James Clear.

ATEA presented Indiaspora an award for Outstanding Contributions. Indiaspora provides the platform to collaborate, build community engagement, and catalyze social change. Indiaspora is dedicated to keeping the community engaged with civic and social issues, including racial justice and gender equality. MR Rangaswami (founder of Indiaspora) and Manasi Dharne accepted the award on behalf of Indiaspora.

ATEA presented Dr. Ramanathan Vairavan with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. Vairavan is the is the grandson of the late Philanthropist Dr. RM Alagappa Chettiar. As the Chairman/ Secretary of the Dr. Alagappa Chettiar Educational Trust in Karaikudi and the Asoka Charitable Trust in Chennai, he manages over 8000 students in primary, secondary, and collegiate education. He has been actively involved in enhancing the quality of education and the infrastructure of the schools, both in Chennai and Karaikudi.

Deepak Sekar was the moderator for a fireside chat with Venky Harinarayan. Venky was one of Facebook’s first five investors. He shared an office with Sergey Brin, and he worked closely with Jeff Bezos. He talked about what distinguished these uber-successful entrepreneurs – basically, they had clarity and simplicity in their thought. His tips on what entrepreneurs can do to maximize their success: 1) Follow your convictions 2) Keep things simple – to allow execution 3) Be nice.

Dr. Pal Manickam spoke on the topic of Health is Wealth in his own, inimitable style of mixing his message with humor. The topics he spoke on, however, were serious. He asked the audience to be cautious about adipose tissue accumulation that could increase the risk of a heart attack. The general rule of thumb is to measure the circumference around the waist. The risks are higher is this is greater than 90cm for men and 80cm for women. He said that his formula for weight loss is: 1) Fast intermittently from Sunset to Sunrise 2) Get at least 7 hours of quality sleep 3) Increase relaxation and reduce stress. Doing just these three increases Melatonin. Dr. Pal added a fourth element to the formula: drink at least 2 liters of water every day. Doing these four is a sure way to lose weight. He mentioned that all religions advocate fasting: During Lent in Christianity; during Ramadan for Muslims; monthly fasting (based on the Lunar cycle) by Hindus. So, in a sense we are divided by religion, but united by fasting!

The ATEA 10 startup PitchFest saw 10 startups pitching their startups in front of panel of 10 judges. The judges were all accomplished entrepreneurs themselves. The 10 startups that participated were: (Ranga Krishnan), ChargeNGo (Mohamed Kamaludeen), Finmacare (Ram Sitaraman), Melbeez (Senthil Kumar), Panmo (Muthu Annamalai), Prancer (Kumar Chandramoulie), Protecto (Amar Kanagaraj), SyenApp (Mani Subrahmanyam), Upahara (Kamala Srinivasan), Uprise (Nantha Muthusamy). Protecto, a privacy platform that leverages AI to simplify data protection, was adjudged as the runner up. Prancer, a platform for automated security validation and penetration testing, was adjudged the winner of ATEA 10.

Sandeep Chennakeshu gave the closing keynote. He talked about his experiences that led to him authoring the book “Your Company is Your Castle” (which was available for sale at the event). Sandeep spent two decades in corporate roles as the CTO of Sony Ericsson, president of Ericsson Mobile Platforms, SVP at Freescale, President of Blackberry Technology Solutions and EVP of AMD. The principles that he followed (and advocates in his book) are to Dream with conviction; Get out of your comfort zone; Learn from successes and failures; It is important to speak up if you know something will go wrong; Be curious; Knowledge and a Can-do attitude breaks down barriers; Stay true; Always walk the talk – it is actions that count, not words.

Sandeep’s talk was a fitting finale to an excellent day filled with panel discussions; presentations and conversations that explored the intersection of leadership and technology. ATEA recognized MVS Mani, a lead investor in Indian Angel Network and the Chair of the Technology Committee for South India Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI); and Sowmiya Chocka Narayanan, CTO of Lily AI, which matches online shoppers to the merchandise they are looking for based on colloquial search terms with a Pinnacle Award. ATEA also recognized Dr. M Arumugam, who pioneered the drug logistics management model for the State of Tamil Nadu; and Dr. Pal Manickam with a Pioneer Award.

With Nehru Rajkumar as the Convener and  Priya Karthik from ATEA, New Jersey as the event EmCee, the CATEALYZE23 conference was well attended and ran smoothly.