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November 12, 1999
NY Entrepreneur Group Marks Anniversary
S Mitra Kalita in New York
Men and women clad in business suits munched on cheese and crackers, sipped wine and exchanged business cards Wednesday night. It was a natural way to pay tribute to an organization that has spent the last year fostering networks among south Asian entrepreneurs.
TiE-NY celebrated its one-year anniversary on November 10 with a panel discussion on marketing and public relations in the Internet economy. But most attendees said they were more interested in making connections, securing funding for start-ups and getting the word out about their ventures.
Indeed, half the audience of about 250 people had moved to the back of the midtown Yale Club's ballroom by the end of the discussion. Over drinks and appetizers, they tapped into networks of cash and contacts.
"This is my first meeting," said Kamran Pasha, founder of Movieshares.com. "I want to make relationships and meet people who can help us in the long run."
He describes his web site as the "first Internet-based movie studio" and said it allows average people with great ideas to create films.
Many entrepreneurs said they were still in "incubation," the stage where start-ups are to yet get off the ground. The New York wing of TiE, which stands for The IndUS Entrepreneurs, enables these entrepreneurs to spread word about their companies and to discuss ideas with other men and women in the business.
Founded in 1992 in Silicon Valley, the organization serves people with an interest or roots in south Asia. Chapters in southern California, Boston, Chicago and New York City are recent additions. All TiE groups share the same three objectives -- to foster and nurture entrepreneurs; to facilitate networking; and to help integrate members into the mainstream community.
Purnendu Chatterjee, managing director of The Chatterjee Group, a public/private investment firm, heads the NY group. He said his goal for the non-profit organization serving the tri-state area is to secure more mentors for budding entrepreneurs.
Leaders of the organization estimate there are about 150 members in New York City with about 900 people on mailing list. They are counting on events like Wednesday's that combine workshops and networking to lure more people into the group. Membership costs $ 200 and admission to events ranges from $ 25 to $ 50.
It was D J Nadgar's second TiE event and he said he's already seen a difference. "The number of people is growing," said Nadgar. "And the number of non-Indian people here has spiked."
That's because the IndUS part of the organization's name stands for "us", said Mukhesh M Patel, a lawyer for several start-up and technology companies.
"Indians are becoming prominent players within the start-up phenomenon and technology revolution," he said. He cited a study of Silicon Valley study that found 40 per cent of Internet start-ups and technology companies had Indian founders, co-founders or managers.
Of course the chance to hobnob with other desis lured some.
"As an Indian, I wanted to see what fellow Indians are doing," said Bharati Ravi, a public relations and marketing employee at Steven Blinn & Associates and one of the few women at the event.
On Nadgar's nametag, the research analyst had scrawled the words "a venture capital company" beneath his company's name, Spencer Trask Securities. "At an event like this, it's very important that people make a presence. So companies like myself are available to young, fledgling (units) that need funding," Nadgar said. "My presence indicates that we are willing and available to work with start-up companies from seed ... and even assist in the IPO process."
Past TiE events led Amit M Patel to meet with two potential venture capitalists. The 25-year-old's Edison, NJ-based healthcare start-up company is six months young, but expanding.
"I come to TiE events to find employees," said Patel, the acting chief executive officer and founder of MedOnTime.
"These days, it's more like the (prospective hire) is interviewing your company."
That, he said, illustrates the fact that there are not enough start-ups to go around. Even funding, he said, is readily available to companies and entrepreneurs with the right idea. "The tables have turned. It's nice to have people come to you and to be in a leveraging position," he said.
For more information about TiE, check www.TiE.org
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