Startup program TiE50 builds buzz, ropes in Meet the Drapers star


TiE50 might not be a Shark Tank, or a pitch fest, but it is a platform to expose and show your ideas, connect with Silicon Valley venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, investors and like-minded people to share ideas, Kamal Anand, chair of TiE50, told indica News.

Started in 2009, TiE50 is the annual signature program — a contest, run by TiE Silicon Valley during TIECon. It has gained popularity in the past decade.

“The whole idea was to recognize leading companies in technology or leverage technology in their business,” said Anand, CEO and co-founder of healthcare workflow automation company Asparia and a serial entrepreneur who took charge of the TiE program in 2018.

TiE50 this year for the first time has partnered with American venture capitalist and reality TV star Tim Draper.

Kamal Anand

Anand told indica News: “This is a partnership between Meet the Drapers and TiECon/TiE50. Basically, it is a casting call/selection for the 4th season of the Meet the Drapers reality TV show. We are going to select 12 of the TiE50 companies to present to Mr Draper and judges on September 2. They can then select a few of those companies to appear on the show.”

The reality show Meet the Drapers features companies and entrepreneurs being presented to the Draper family and the judges with potential investment from the Drapers, but the audience can also invest.

Anand, who served as an adviser to senior executives at F500 companies while consulting with McKinsey & Co, angel investor and advisor to various startups, explained that TiE50 is a global program with a very impartial approach to how they evaluate the winners.

“We encourage people to run from all over, “ said Anand.

The benefit of being selected by TiE50 is recognition in the platform designed to present to VC and executives, he said, and 84 percent of the winners and top startups have been funded with over $1 billion.

Many of these companies went on to get acquired or had an IPO. At least 29 of the exits were over $100 million — FireEye (IPO), Mulesoft (IPO), Pearl Therapeutics (acquired by Astra Zeneca), and Velocloud (acquired by VMware).

So even though it’s not a pitch fest, TiE50 has shown results and has success stories.

Anand said the numbers of applicants were huge — more than 2,000 — and many applications were not fully finished, so they thought of streamlining. TiE added a fee of $550 and now 500-600 applications are filed, down a bit from recent years.

Last year, there were a few hundred high-quality applications, with the contestants that participated at TiE50 screened by TiE local chapters globally.

“So, by the time they apply they are a high-quality company,” Anand said.

The whole idea is to expose the companies to investors. TiE Silicon Valley does not fund the participants but helps with leading a business, entrepreneurship, creating credibility, finding investors, feedback, and positioning and scaling a company.

“Every year we ask for online applications, then it goes through the screening committee and two levels of screenings before getting to TiE50 finalists,” he said.

Companies submit just their business plan and solution, and most of the participants are an early stage, mid-stage, and later stage. Again, the idea is not to pitch but get feedback and built the audience.

Asked how he planned to go forward virtually, Anand said this year there were hundreds of applications.

Asked what they look for in startup, he said that the rating system is unique — it includes technology, unity of team, tow big the market is, the problem the company is trying to solve, and if the company has done due diligence.

It is not just restricted to AI or cloud but also if the company is using technology to solve business problems.

“And this year being online, we would be doing more sessions and mentors and forums where startups can share the knowledge and requirement,” Anand said.