cf2ad5b8ba37ba14336ee664988da0ec-2TiE (www.tie.org) was founded in 1992, in Silicon Valley, by a group of successful entrepreneurs, executives, and professionals with roots in the Indus region. Within a year, it had about 100 members. Today, TiE has over 10,000 members, across 45 chapters, in nine countries. The nonprofit scaled through the economic boom and scaled even during the downturn, when entrepreneurship was no longer the Holy Grail to immediate wealth. In an attempt to understand this phenomenal growth, India Currents spoke with Vish Mishra, senior venture partner with Clearstone Venture Partners, who serves as co-chair of TiE Global Branding and PR Committee. See below excerpts from the interview.

How did you achieve such phenomenal growth?

This growth was achieved in a planned way. Whenever a location seeks to start a chapter, it needs to have at least a dozen committed, diligent, and enthusiastic members willing to follow a rigorous, systematic, and highly qualified process, to become a bona fide chapter of TiE. TiE global body was created that owns TiE logo and brand. Each chapter is treated as an affiliate of TiE Inc. From governance, legal, and regulatory perspective, all chapters enter into an agreement to abide by TiE by-laws and other requirements.

Can you share some of the challenges of adding new chapters?

One of the early concerns was to ensure that the consistency of the brand was maintained. The mission of TiE is about advancing entrepreneurship worldwide. Local markets and pace differ from chapter to chapter and different chapters have local unique flavor and character. For instance, TiE chapter in Detroit focuses on auto industry, TiE Jaipur focuses on gems and jewelry, and TiE Houston focuses on oil and natural gas. Dynamics of each market are different. For instance, TiE UK is more process- and procedure-oriented as opposed to TiE Silicon Valley, which is faster paced, and more innovation oriented.

TiE was born in Silicon Valley and there was an early perception that it was focused on IT and technology and was solely comprised of Indians. One of the branding challenges is changing this initial perception. TiE is neither solely focused on technology, nor is it comprised solely of people of Indian origin. TiE is a completely open, inclusive, and diverse organization and our actions and deeds have to continuously reflect this reality.

Can you tell us more about Indian chapters and the climate of entrepreneurship in India?

India now has the second largest number of chapters (13) outside of North America. Collectively these chapters have embarked on a major program to advance entrepreneurship through creating awareness and countrywide advocacy using national media and forums. These chapters lean on each other for support as well as seek support from other chapters.

The climate of entrepreneurship in India is excellent. Young, upwardly mobile middle class with an eagerness to consume, is engaging in entrepreneurial activities in multiple sectors, including telecom, wired and wireless networks, devices and services, online and offline retail sectors, traditional and digital entertainment, financial services, infrastructure, insurance, and healthcare.

Any major milestones in terms of VC funding in India and can you share any success stories?

VC investments are steadily increasing in India. Over $2 billion have been invested over the last 12 months in early- and late-stage companies. Most of these investments have been made by overseas funds. In addition, several new India-focused VC funds are raised or are being raised to the tune of over $3 billion.

I-Flex Software is one of the many success stories. Its products are used by banks worldwide and Oracle has purchased a minority interest in the company, with over $1 billion.

Tell us a little about social entrepreneurship.

TiE’s overall vision is to create entrepreneurs, create jobs, support local economy, generate wealth, and give back. TiE Silicon Valley was a story of mega successes during boom times. But entrepreneurship is not only about mega successes, mega investments, and mega outcomes. It is about understanding market perspectives and catering to the emerging market needs.

Social entrepreneurship caters to the needs of the poor. Bottom tier markets have thus far been neglected. They are huge emerging markets. In fact, micro financing, lending small amounts of money to individuals to start small local enterprises, have generated wealth for the entrepreneurs and improved local economies.

America India Foundation (AIF) is a TiE spin-off that effectively combines charitable component with spurring local business economy. Started in 2001, and now with over $30 million in funds, AIF has evolved into one of the largest India-centered philanthropic organization. It is focused on supporting education and other projects for the poor, and for women and children, and helping them become self-reliant.

Are there lessons that for-profit businesses can glean from the phenomenal continued growth of TiE?

If TiE were a for-profit business, it would be an envy of the competition. The lessons are about delivering outstanding value and satisfaction to the customers—in this case, members—through good leadership, where leaders volunteer their time and effort and provide mentoring and guidance. TiE has achieved and continues to achieve steady growth in membership and geographical expansion.

But the real proof is in the pudding. TiE continues to enable entrepreneurial success, spur local economic growth, and provide value to the members. It is a borderless organization, in spirit and in deed. It will continue to grow where there is a pull and commitment among a core group of entrepreneurs.

Darshana V. Nadkarni, Ph.D., is president of Winning Difference and a corporate trainer in effective business practices in working with India, and in diversity. wd_darshana@hotmail.com

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