There is something for everyone at TiEcon 2022, says convener Kamal Anand

Ritu Jha-

The IndUS Entrepreneurs Conference (TiEcon) this year is a completely virtual event but for the final gala, conference co-convener Kamal Anand told indica over the phone, ruling out the confusion about the onsite conference. He mentioned that they had initially thought of a hybrid format, but this year have made the conference virtual.

Hosted by TiE Silicon Valley, each year since 1992, this year the conference is scheduled to be held May 5 through May 7, starting 7:45 am PDT until noon each day. The sold-out ticketed gala takes place May 7.

Explaining the change from the initial proposal for a hybrid event, Anand said, “The reason for going for this (virtual event) is because we weren’t sure about Covid, the infection rate, and whether everything would be open.

“With a virtual event, attendees from all over the world are able to benefit from the content. In addition, you can also get speakers from different geographic regions,” he added, pointing to the list of grand keynote speakers who have been lined up irrespective of whether they are based on the East Coast, West Coast or abroad.

Anand was mighty pleased at TiEcon having managed to persuade Dr Albert Bourla, chairman and chief executive officer of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, and Cristiano Amon, the San Diego-based president and CEO of Qualcomm, to deliver keynote addresses online. Art of Living founder Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will also be participating in a keynote session.

He also pointed out that the virtual format of the event allowed companies from Japan, Australia, Europe and India to enter the TiE50 competition. “It allows us to connect with entrepreneurs from across the world,” he said. “Last year, we had founders pitching early morning at 3 from Australia.

“TiE Silicon Valley is the hub, so everyone wants to connect, whether it is from the perspective of investment, mentoring or even understanding trending technology,” Anand continued.

The only in-person event is the concluding gala. “People are tired of sitting at home and wanted to participate,” he said. “It’s sold out. The demand has been extremely high and (we had to add) more tables because everybody wants to network.”

The conference co-convener said the experience of preparing for the event had been good because the conference is much bigger now with 13 tracks, from Web3+Crypto, AI/ML, Supply Chain to Social Impact and other hot areas. “As an attendee you have a unique opportunity to hear from thought leaders on different topics,” he said.

The three-day conference will have eight grand keynotes. “Each day we have two keynotes in the morning, with the opening keynote by the Silicon Valley-based Armon Dadgar, co-founder and CTO, HashiCorp. (He is) a young first-time entrepreneur under 40, and the company was valued at over $10 billion,” Anand said.

On TiEcon inviting such a young entrepreneur to make the grand opening keynote, Anand said, “We are trying to attract the next generation. TiE Silicon Valley has a program for the under-40s. This has been ongoing and TiE has been trying to engage with the young generation.

“If you see some of the newer technology, there is a track on crypto. The younger generation is into it and so we are trying to associate and recognize those folks from that perspective while also trying to be more diverse,” he explained.

Asked why there is no separate track on woman entrepreneurs, he said, “We want to make sure that women are a key part and integrated into leadership of the conference.  We have two women giving grand keynotes… I think that can still be improved and we continue to make a conscious effort. We have women chair tracks, and there are many women speakers in the tracks, too. The ’what CIOs want from cloud’ panel in the ‘Cloud and SaaS’ track in an impressive panel with all 6 panelists being women leaders.”

He said another track to watch out for is on ‘Social Impact’. “That has come around very nicely,” he said. “We have Milind Tambe, director of the Center for Research in Computation and Society, Harvard University, who will talk about AI. He has some interesting concepts around applying technology and solving social problems.”

On involving a spiritual guru in a technology/entrepreneurship conference, he said Sri Sri Ravi Shankar would be speaking about ‘conscious leadership’. “Post-Covid, this is a strong topic and we thought it would be important,” Anand said. “Self-awareness and having understanding of how you are impacting the rest of the organization is important for leaders to understand.”

Then there are tracks on sustainability, how to help the planet, and traditional AI, ML, cloud and security. “We have a bit of everything,” he offered. “Personally, as an attendee, what’s interesting is that I can attend a track on an industry segment that I am already part of, and I can attend other tracks that I want to learn more about, like crypto, conscious leadership, social leadership or social enterprise. TiEcon is a great way to get hear from leaders and influencers in many different areas.”