Why TIE’S StartUp Expo in the capital was worth it

By: Mohak Khandelwal, 2/05/2016

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It was not my usual Saturday morning.

TIE’S StartUp Expo was opening its doors in Gurgaon and we were there early to set up. Amidst a flood of startup events, this one stood out. The unofficial buzz was that it would be worth it.

And, it definitely was. Firstly, the sheer scale of the event was impressive: about 200 startup stalls and an interesting crowd. Some great investor spotting, media folks, a diverse mix of founders and some impressive go-getters still in school! The Flexing It team, all Delhi-ites that morning, were in high energy mode, despite the long trip across the border to Gurgaon!

Through the day there were multiple opportunities: networking, investor meetings, more networking, elevator speech opps, several times over, intellectual debating and importantly, some 20+ food stalls to keep us going. The schedule read: TiE Institute Sessions, Guru Sessions, Job Fair, Expert Talks, Mentoring Zones, Networking Zones, Investor Zones, and Partner Lounges.

There was a lot to take in; here are some takeaways:

1) Start-up fever?—?it’s not being over hyped.

Most of us are well acquainted with the government’s big push behind start-ups in India. Most of us also know we have a long way to go. TIE’s startup expo was a great indicator that the engine of the startup-ecosystem is churning. It was a very successful example of a collaborative effort of this scale for the startup segment.

2) Internet business is the future.

If you’re thinking this is coming from the fact that I am associated with an internet startup disrupting professional services, well, it might be, a little! But more than that it was definitely noticeable how much interest tech-based online start ups across the board were getting.

“Brick and mortar businesses will be dead by 2023”.-Amitabh Kant,CEO of NITI Aayog

3) Passion supersedes all

When you’re at a massive event like TIE’s Startup Expo, there’s always a high chance of pitch fatigue, not helped by the 40 degree afternoon that hits you if you venture out for a break! But, some things make it worth it. Some people just stand out?—?to investors, and start-up peers. For me, passion (which comes out in vision, persistence, and energy) was a differentiating factor. Some people have it. There were several startup teams and founders who stood out of the crowd, and it was great to share and exchange ideas with them.

4) Investors in disguise

In an event where there were 50 investors (officially), we found many more in disguise. Who doesn’t want their money to grow? Who doesn’t want to back the next Unicorn?

If you have a brilliant idea, a great team and the best execution capabilities, there are investors willing to give you their money. It was also interesting that a lot of prospective angels (i.e. who were not yet investing, but wanting to get a feel for the startup scene before getting in the game) also came round through the day.

“Nikesh Arora Bet $483 Million of his personal savings on SoftBank’s Future”?—?Bloomberg

5) Big companies are taking note?—?they’re carving out a piece of the startup pie

Who would have thought about an airline giant like Lufthansa arranging such a massive event for start-ups?! It is clear that big global companies are taking note of the startup scene, and the potential of these dynamics to further, or maintain their own market share. To this end ‘Intrapreneurship’ , ‘4 days work week’ , ‘work from home’ are all changing our concepts of work, and employer-employee equations at large corporations . 10 years ago these did not exist.

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