TiEcon 2023 breaks barriers, sets new standards


There was a visible pleasure on people’s faces as they smiled, hugged, and took selfies at TiEcon, TiE Silicon Valley’s annual conference that was held in person after three years of virtual sessions, thanks to the pandemic. Even those exercising caution behind masks expressed pleasure being back.

Those who attended the conference, held May 3-5, included entrepreneurs, industry leaders, venture capitalists, startups, and volunteers. The latter, while networking, hoped to learn how technology companies are evolving, what venture capitalists do when the market is down.


A huge first was the fact that Anita Manwani became the first woman president in TiE SV’s 31 years of history. She expressed particular satisfaction with the other minority groups who received good representation.

“We had so much racial diversity at TiEcon this year,” she told indica. “New track managers who came in and actually took the mandate. We had to get sponsorship and focus on the right speakers and the right
content. Each one of them re-raised the bar.”

The panels focused on AI/ML, cloud/Edge, climate tech, cybersecurity, generative AI, global connections, health care, manufacturing, plans for TiE50, and US-India investments. But one question that dominated most of them was the fallout from the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and the 72 hours of uncertainty that followed.

Dr. Jagdeep Singh Bachher, chief investment officer at the University of California with Anita Manwani, TiE SV President at TiEcon 2023.

During the keynote speech moderated by Manwani, Dr. Jagdeep Singh Bachher, chief investment officer at the University of California, said Silicon Valley needed more humility.

“It really bothered me when four venture capitalists didn’t wake up in the morning and each write in checks for Silicon Valley Bank,” he said. “It really does boil me because it could have been done and it would have saved Silicon Valley [bank]. It hurts me personally – and I mean it with every ounce of my body.”

In the past six months, Silicon Valley has faced some rough times, ranging from large-scale layoffs to failing banks. But entrepreneurs at TiEcon were not deterred from asking VCs what they are looking for.

Naveen Chaddha, the managing director of Mayfield Fund who was one keynote speaker at TiEcon 2023, said that while things are difficult, he believes it’s time for entrepreneurs to move forward and to make the next set of exciting companies.

“Make sure that the problem you are solving has value, whether it’s a consumer problem or whether it’s a business problem,” Chaddha said. “Don’t just come in and pitch and say, I think my technology really is cool.”

Chandni Priya, co-founder, of Reflexion AI, a video analytics company from Bengaluru, told indica, “Our purpose in attending TiEcon was to be in the ecosystem of Silicon Valley, to be with the Indian American community and explore our synergies. We were not here to make a lot for sales, but to understand the market and the network.”

Gouraj Yadav, founder of Hourglass Research, another Bengaluru-based company, told indica, “We were here in 2019. I see one major difference: the exhibitors. I see a lot of tech companies this time. Earlier there weren’t many.” He said that the number of visitors were fewer this time, but suggested it could be a fallout from the pandemic.

Attendees with Jeff Hoffman, chairman of Global Entrepreneurship Network at TiEcon 2023.

Asked if he thought TiEcon was fruitful, Yadav said, “Being here is like 50% of the job. Then we have to follow up with people, network, and keep nudging them. Most importantly we look for exposure and an opportunity to connect with people because the Bay Area is the first in any new technology.”

Jeff Hoffman, chairman of Global Entrepreneurship Network, and a grand keynote speaker, discussed new Indian firms and startups.

“You have a whole level of people in India that believe they’re capable of doing something that many years ago they would never consider,” he said.

Hoffman told indica he had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, an advocate of startups, some years before. He said Modi asked what the government could do to help, and Hoffman told him of a need to have a suitable ecosystem around the places where entrepreneurship was expected to flourish. Hoffman explain that this meant getting co-working space for either free or being funded and subsidized.

More than 300 volunteers helped at this year’s TiEcon.

Neha Mishra, TiE SV executive director and has seen it growing under several leadership since she joined in 2015 told indica,“ TiEcon is a great example and symbol of the spirit of volunteerism where so many domain experts come together for over three months to put together a conference of this magnitude.”

Anand Akela, convener chair of TiEcon 2023, a top 100 product marketing influencer and board member of TiE Silicon Valley, said that the mega event was a learning experience that could provide a road map for future programs.

Unlike earlier years, TiEcon 2023 was held during the week, not on the weekend.

“Our sponsors and speakers want to keep the event on weekday,” Akela told indica. “But other stakeholder attendees prefer it on the weekend. This is a challenge that we’ll have to always juggle and see when we could organize it next. We’ll get the feedback and then we can decide where to go.”

Akela, who has been one of the event’s organizers for 20 years, spoke about the changes that he has witnessed.

“Much has changed with technology. The way we do things has changed as well,” he said. “Social media has changed much over time. If you look at the internet, TiEcon 2023 is trending because we have done so much rich content. We saw CEOs and powerful women telling us amazing stories about their beginnings and journeys.”

He said that because he was on TiE SV’s board as well, he would always critique work done, and work on ways to improve things.

Kanwal Rekhi (Left) with and Suhas S. Patil at TiEcon 2023.

“This is my community and my organization. I will always be contributing in some form or another,” Akela said.

TiE veteran and venture capitalist Suhas S. Patil said the organization would have to adapt to change.

Patil and another venture capitalist, Kanwal Rekhi, told indica they believed in attracting more crowds. They pointed out that 30,000 people had registered virtually last year, suggesting that TiE should consider going hybrid.

“TiE will never become obsolete; it creates value,” Rekhi told indica. “It takes the knowledge of the experience people and transfers it to the younger people and emphasizes creating wealth. It’s not a Chamber of Commerce, a Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) or the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI).”

Patil agreed with Rekhi, adding “TiE is very unique where the successful and the aspiring both are members of the same organization.”

TiE is a non-profit organization with more than 12,000 members in 57 chapters in 12 countries.

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