The Federation of Tamil Sangams in North America (FeTNA), the FeTNA International Tamil Entrepreneurs Network (FiTEN) in association with StartupTN is organizing the Global Tamil Startup Investors Summit in Chennai in 2023.
The event, regularly conducted as part of FeTNA’s annual conventions in the US, is making its Chennai debut.
According to its organizers, FiTEN Chennai 2023 aims to benefit Tamil entrepreneurs and “help them establish global connections.” The day-long event will be held on January 9, 2023 at Leela Palace, Chennai. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin will inaugurate the event while the state’s Minister of Finance Dr Palanivel Thiaga Rajan and the Minister of MSME T.N. Anbarasan will be the guests of honor.
Government officials, industry leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, incubators, and other ecosystem stakeholders will participate in the event which includes keynote addresses, panel discussions, pitch competitions, exhibitions, and networking sessions.
FeTNA president Bala Swaminathan shared his vision with indica:
“There are three things we aim to accomplish in the Global Tamil Startup Investors Summit in Chennai. One is to put the US and Canada, our North American investors in front of the startups in Tamil Nadu. Micro and small enterprises in Tamil Nadu are funded through TANSEED grant (Tamil Nadu Startup Seed Grant Fund). Using this grant the TN government has seeded several hundred startups. Several deals are curated through this grant, which we think are going well.”
He said the second objective is to expose to investors in North America to TN startups that need to go to the next level. These people will be investing in and also mentoring them. We also want to bring in 100 students from colleges in TN; we are requesting colleges to send only those students who studied in government schools in the 11th and 12th classes,” he cited.
He said FeTNA will give them an opportunity to see how things operate so that they can become entrepreneurs. We wish to at least put a seed in them and get them interested. The CM really liked this idea.”
Swaminathan, a researcher at Renaissance Technologies Corp based in New York, said this investors’ summit will feature a pitch competition as well, “for our college students.”
He said this could be a big deal because many colleges have incubators. The students’ pitches will be evaluated by a team from US and Canada, and the best idea will be funded by them.
“NRI funding will be a new thing for them,” he said. “Hopefully, that will catapult them to the next level even before they graduate.” He said FeTNA hopes to fund 20 to 30 such startups by investing at least $1 million. These are small and micro businesses, probably worth ₹5 to ₹10 crore. “Together there will be $1 million investment, could be more. If some people find another deal attractive, they may invest there too.”
He said FeTNA has hosted entrepreneur conferences every July. “We have hosted 35 conventions so far in 12 years. The 36th will be in Sacramento from June 30 to July 2, 2023. People from all over the world participate every year. We get requests to organize something on similar lines in Chennai because not many people are able to travel. This event in Chennai will help people meet American investors and mentors.”
Swaminathan said, “So far TANSEED has given us 10 curated deals. They are giving us applications in batches of 10. They are going to give 20 more as the event approaches. We have exposed the first 10 to investors.”
Swaminathan said the startup culture in Tamil Nadu is vibrant. “There are many IT startups. Software as a service (SaaS) is also popular, and Tamil Nadu is probably the SaaS capital of Asia at present.”