Tang of Draper happy with TiE50 contest contenders


When Andrew Tang[Above photo 2nd from right], partner, Draper Associates, first started listening to the pitches at TiE50 at TiE Silicon Valley, he said, “I first thought these are just interesting ideas. Then I saw all these interesting ideas have revenue [potential]. I was very impressed by how they raised money in a bear market. I was impressed both by their quality ideas and the execution of the founders.”

Tang, who was picking the best six of the TiE50 winners, said, “I give credit to TiE50 for finding and selecting these companies. They really know what they are doing.”

TiE50 is one of the annual programs of TiE Silicon Valley and has been held since 2009 during TiEcon. This year the TiEcon 2023 was held May 3 through 5 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California.

Angel investor Kumar Sripadam[Above photo 3rd from right], TiE 50 co-chair, told indica that for the team all the 50 winners were winners: “We don’t rank them.”

However, based on its specific criteria, the Draper team does pick the top 12 companies to pitch at the “Meet the Draper” event at TiEcon.

The 12 companies pitching to Draper included Strobes Security, Inito, Rock Paper Coin, F-Med, Cognicor, Mybiometry, Hen Nozzles, Orangewood Labs, Conifer, Photon Marine, Astrome, and Rajesh Labs.

Draper looks for companies that provide good opportunities but also appeal to popular sentiments. This year’s participants were from the U.S., Japan, India and Canada.

The winners are Strobe Security, Inito, Rock Paper Coin, Cognicor, Mybiometry and Astrome.

indica asked Tang why, despite expressing deep admiration for two innovative forms, he did not pick Japan-based F-Med, a robotic manipulator system company involved in microsurgery, and Hen Nozzles, which works on superior fire suppression techniques.

Speaking about F-Med, Tang told indica that, indeed, non-invasive surgery is a great business and that robotic surgery would be the future.

“We look for companies that could make consumers into customers right away,” he said.

Asked if he saw a growth trend in health-focused startups, Tang said that rising healthcare costs in America can ensure there is a huge opportunity to bring down the costs.

“There are many ways in health care, but the challenge is that it’s a highly regulated industry. Generally, these are hard for startups,” he said, adding that this difficulty applied to startups in the education and finance sector as well.

“These take longer to succeed. If they succeed they become huge companies,” Tang told indica. “The Mybiometry founder educated me … It’s valuable advice and highly valued.” He said that the capital markets could reward a seemingly small contribution in health care because it’s so difficult to make a
difference [there].”

Asked what kind of companies people should build in the next five years, and where the investment would go, Tang said the focus in America was on AI.

“Most of these jobs are coming back to the U.S. from China but, unfortunately, these jobs won’t be taken up by humans,” he said. “Because …the U.S. does not have the right skill set, and we don’t want strong unions, AI agents and robots will fill the jobs vacated by China.”

Tang said that more productivity could bring down inflation, but the only way to that would be by using robots and AI agents.

“Look, these jobs are not coming back to humans,” he said with a laugh.

Kumar said that in recent years TiE has focused on diversity and women.

“We now see this taking off,” he said. “Without a doubt, there has been a rise in this area. A point to that effect is the fact that we have a woman president now – Anita Manwani – at TiE Silicon Valley.”

Asked if the presence of The Draper show team had excited participants, Kumar said that Draper has always been an attraction.

“Meet the Drapers” is a show held around the world, with the U.S. version being in fall. Selected TiE50 companies from the pitch event have a chance to make it to the final.

“Yes, it’s always exciting to see any of our winners out there,” Kumar said.

Anand Jagannathan[Above photo 1st from right], TiE50 Awards Program co-chair told indica, “I was pleased with the number of in-person participants that happened after the three years of virtual competition.”

He said they received more than 200 participants. Of the 50 selected 45 had come in person.

Jagannathan, an angel investor himself, said he only cared whether the company was high quality, and mature in terms of revenue.

“I am surprised 45 came in and over 10 of them from India and are moving to Silicon Valley,” Jagannathan said.


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