Dear fellow members of TiE,
as well as the greater community of entrepreneurs,
What a roller coaster the last couple of years have been - not just for TiE, but for our world at large. Monumental changes have unfolded in our global economy. The financial meltdown in the US almost brought our entire planet to its knees, and both man-made and natural disaster literally shook up our world. However, through it all the spirit of entrepreneurship, and the "can do" attitude that entrepreneurs are genetically endowed with, have seen us through some very tough times.
When the world is in trouble, it is the Entrepreneur who comes to the rescue. This has been the indisputable case throughout modern history, right from the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, where entrepreneurs such as Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, the Wright Brothers, Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D Rockefeller, Henry Ford and Cyrus McCormick, ignited economic growth in the West. Similarly in the latter part of the 20th century, another renaissance led by entrepreneurs like Sam Walton, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Fred Smith, Herb Kelleher, Andy Grove and Ted Turner transformed our economy & quality of life, and unbelievably, even brought down the Iron Curtain. Once again, today, it is youthful entrepreneurs like Sergey Brin, Tony Hsieh, Evan Williams and Mark Zuckerberg, who are implementing game changing ideas and transforming the way we work, live and entertain ourselves.
And Entrepreneurship is what TiE is all about. To be more specific TiE is all about fostering, encouraging and promoting entrepreneurship all across the globe. A little historical reflection provides a sobering perspective. TIE was founded in 1992 by a group of successful Indo-American entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. They had conquered stereotypes, broken glass ceilings, and forged successful companies, thereby blazing a trail for the rest of their Diaspora. These visionary individuals came together to encourage, help and give back to aspiring entrepreneurs, irrespective of their country of origin. To them we owe a great debt of gratitude. From those humble beginnings of a few "Indian Givers", TIE has grown into the world's largest organization of entrepreneurs with over 13,000 members spread across 56 Chapters in 13 countries and 5 continents, across the world.
Today, TiE is at a crossroads - but a crossroads that presents immense opportunities. Our Chapters in Asia are experiencing a surge similar to the one we saw in North America during the halcyon days of 1990s. Entrepreneurship is thriving in the region. These Asian chapters have become strong, and under enlightened leadership are not just growing, but booming - as evidenced by the last two TES conferences in Mumbai and Delhi. In North America, our mother ship i.e. TIE Silicon Valley, is consolidating and continues to put on excellent TIECONs every May. They have started up (what else would entrepreneurs do but start things) their highly successful "TiE Angels" group that has made significant investments in 5 start-ups in the last 6 months. Boston's TIECON East and their innovative TiE Young Entrepreneurs program has also been a success story, as has TiE Toronto with their TiEQuest Business Competition. Other chapters like TiE Atlanta continue to defy conventional wisdom and grow in their respective markets. Populated by active Charter Members, Members and Sponsors who share a common vision and purpose, these chapters and their Events attract thousands of attendees. They come to learn about developments on their respective markets and technologies and learn about the emergence of new industries, as well as participate in new forums for career growth and development.
The three pillars of TiE, namely Mentoring, Education and Networking, are espoused by all our TiE Chapters. However, in North America many of our chapters face a soul searching reexamination of how relevant we are for our membership. The challenge for all of us is how we honestly redefine our vision, mission and goals for North America given the generational shift in the Indus diaspora, as well as the plethora of "competitors" that have attempted to emulate TiE and its success. After all, plagiarism is indeed the highest form of flattery.
We are extremely grateful for our excellent partnerships with the Kauffman Foundation and Microsoft, forged by our prior CEO. For that - thank you Suren! Both Kauffman and Microsoft are a constant source of support and ideas for developing TiE, and we hope to raise their involvement with TiE even further in the next year or two to come. I look forward to working with our new CEO P.K. Agarwal and our newly elected Board of Trustees in firstly fixing all that needs to be fixed, and more importantly in continuing to establish TiE as the world's premier organization for the promotion of entrepreneurship.
On a more somber note, our founder, leading light and stalwart extraordinaire, Prof. C.K. Prahalad passed away most unexpectedly last year. Acknowledged as the foremost business thought leader in the world - yes the world - his passing was a devastating loss to TiE as well as to the business community at large. TiE will miss him greatly. And on a personal note, I will miss him immensely for the vision and guidance he would have provided this rookie. His contributions to TiE are truly timeless, and we will attempt to stand by his words, deeds, and ideals. He continues to guide us in spirit. But, it is up to all of us as entrepreneurs (and as participants, members, stakeholders, managers, volunteers) to continue to drive this organization with our expertise, and motivation - to forge ahead in our own right.
Humbly aware of this tremendous responsibility, and wishing us all the very best for 2011.
Chairman, TiE Global