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TiE-Hyderabad taking entrepreneurial ecosystem to tier-2 cities

TiE Ignite to be operational in tier-2 cities like Warangal and Nizamabad over next 2-3 months

Suresh Raju, President, The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE)
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Suresh Raju, President, The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE)

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Jupiter Alternative Investments Fund Founder and Partner Suresh Raju was appointed as President of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) - Hyderabad Chapter, from January 1, 2022. He is an entrepreneur, fund manager and angel investor. He has over 20 years of experience in the financial services industry.

In an exclusive interview with Bizz Buzz, he explained about several TiE programmes to mentor the startups, connect to investors and encourage entrepreneurship in Hyderabad. He also shares his vision to support women startups and entrepreneurs from tier-2 cities of Telangana. He is working actively to conduct over 100 events a year

As the new president of TiE-Hyderabad, what is your vision? Have you set any goals to achieve in the near future?

TiE Hyderabad's vision is to expand and deepen its activities, which foster entrepreneurship. As the new president of the chapter, I am focusing on launching three primary initiatives, while we continue to execute our current activities. The first priority is enhancement of engagement with corporates and their incubation ecosystems.

Over the years, several TiE programmes addressed the need for mentoring, connecting to investors and encouraging entrepreneurship early in careers. There is a demand from current startups to engage more with corporates to drive their business revenues, explore potential partnerships/ collaborations and to get a better understanding of the market.

As of today, the year 2022 marks 30 years since TiE's inception in 1992. TiE operates globally in 14 countries across 58 cities, duly called as chapters with around 3,000 charter members and more than 15,000 associate members. TiE Hyderabad is working closely with local ecosystems for collective enablement and actively conducts over 100 events every year.

I would like to bring this global network to the benefit of our local ecosystem. Many of our events designed for 2022 are to enhance collaboration with ecosystems in other cities. Over the coming months, we intend to conduct more events to enhance engagement with corporates in Telangana and across India.

What are the initiatives of TiE-Hyderabad to support startups in tier-2 and tier-3 cities of Telangana?

TiE-Hyderabad is looking to launch TiE Ignite – a new mentorship programme to connect and build startup ecosystems in tier-2 cities of Telangana. The field visits and concept note is being fine-tuned and work-plans are under discussion. We anticipate TiE Ignite to be operational in tier-2 cities like Warangal and Nizamabad over the next 2-3 months.

New businesses are starting in tier-2 cities faster than ever before. We would like to play an important role in helping such startups access mentors, capital and startup ecosystem. A delegation led by TiE Hyderabad has recently visited Nizamabad and understood the needs of local entrepreneurs. A lot of activity in cities could be fostered by TiE Hyderabad.

What is the current number of charter members/ mentors at TiE-Hyderabad? Among them, how many are women members and student members?

Currently, we have over 160 charter members, a meaningful jump from previous year. Most of them are active mentors to startups through various activities. We are building a women charter member ecosystem, and it is our target to enable a meaningful number of women entrepreneurs to join TiE over the next 18 months.

TiE Young Entrepreneurs (TYE) programme has impacted nearly 3,000 high school students so far. We have more than 200 student members, of which 100 are women. Under the TYE programme, we give student members free of cost after programme deliverable. The next TYE programmes will be conducted in May and September to enable students to consider entrepreneurship over the years.

TiE Grad is a globally acclaimed college student entrepreneurship programme. Over 3,600 college students from Hyderabad have participated in this programme over the last five years, and we've been nominating the finalists from here to the global competitions including TYE University Challenge, which we run in about 10 countries and roughly around 40 locations across the world.

Due to Covid-19, several events were put on hold while some events happened virtually during the last couple of years. How TiE Hyderabad has conducted the events and activities during the pandemic period? Now that things are back to normal, how are you planning to go ahead?

In the pandemic times, many events like TiE Global Summit 2020, TiE Sustainability Summit 2021, TiE Women Editions, Open Mic sessions, Leadership Series Talks and Thursday Night Talks happened virtually. Since the easing of the restrictions in February 2022, we were able to conduct TiE Socials, Open Mic, a field trip to Nizamabad, Chai Pe Charcha, TIE Grad, TiE Women Investor Connect.

The physical events are seeing good response. For the rest of the year, most events will be organised physically. Interaction in a physical space is important for TiE activities.

How is the response for Business Women Expo 2022? Are you going to host more events in association with other organisations like COWE?

We have recently conducted the TiE Women Investor Connect event at Hitex, Hyderabad. About 80 women entrepreneurs applied, and we curated 16 of them to present to a group of 11 investors. Around 10 of these women entrepreneurs are now in advanced talks with investors for capital raise. We intend to conduct many more such events to enable women entrepreneurship.

The response to the event has been quite good. These kinds of programmes collaboratively help to generate more interest and also in our target to reach a broader ecosystem. We have collaboration with Confederation of Women Entrepreneurs (COWE) and Indian Women Network (IWN). We plan to do some programmes together in the future.

As a non-profit organisation, how do you arrange funds to organise these education, mentorship and networking programmes? Let us know about the sponsors and partners.

Our primary source of funds is from the receipt of annual membership fees from charter members and associate members. Only this source funds the operating costs of the Hyderabad Chapter including salaries, rents, programmes and event expenses. I have been spending a good amount of my time to tie up with potential sponsors, and we have seen a great response.

The TiE brand and our events generate good interest, so sponsors are happy to be associated with us. Currently, we have a dozen sponsors for our annual events.

How many startups/ entrepreneurs have been benefitted by the TiE's programmes so far? What are the new initiatives this year?

A KPMG report from December 2021, suggests that TiE globally has impacted over 25,000 startups through mentorship over a 30 year period. Our local chapter, TiE-Hyderabad is estimated to have impacted more than 4,000 start-ups through various programmes over the past 20 years. A massive impact from the quantum of investments to employment generated.

The new programmes for this year will include TiE Ignite for tier-2 cities in Telangana, Stanford Seed Programme (a five-month entrepreneurship development programme, and Chai pe Charcha a corporate engagement initiative.

Could you throw some light on the sustainability initiatives of TiE-Hyderabad?

We believe that sustainability is the next big theme for all to address and it will open many new markets and opportunities. We conducted TiE Sustainability Summit 2021 to create awareness and showcase opportunities. This is a highly successful event with over 40,000 registrations from across the globe. We will continue to build upon this theme. Stay tuned with us for more on this.

What amount of money is set up under the Social Impact Fund?

Work is underway to pool capital for supporting social enterprises, especially for rural innovators. We will update on this at the right time.

How many women entrepreneurs are empowered by the TiE Women's Forum up to now? When would you reveal the winners and runners of phase 1 of 2021 TiE Women Programme? Also, could you tell us about the TiE Women 2022 programme?

Over the last couple of years, TiE has emphasised women entrepreneurs and it is bringing a lot of resources to support. Till now, more than 200 women have benefitted by TiE Women's forum (despite the pandemic). Last year's winner was announced on September 4, 2021 at the Regional competition: Vivalyfe (winner).

We are planning a Women's Entrepreneurship Development Programme in May / June of 2022 and followed up by a regional competition by July-end. We are planning an Open Mic Nite for women in August 2022 and we will have a separate track focussing on women entrepreneurs during our large events.

N Sharath Chowdary
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