Takeaways from TiECON Dallas 10/16/10

Good to see Dallas TiE back in action!.. Nice event with a good mixture of Dallas and Bay area entrepreneurs present. And honored to have been able to lead a panel discussion at the event. Finally getting around to blogging about it today. Several topics in play – Wireless, Social Media, Venture Capital and Globalization  – or shall we say the “4 Ms” – “Mobility, Media, Money and Markets”?

First, on Mobility, the term ‘convergence’ has been used in telecom for years, may be decades, in the context of media, devices etc. Now it has taken on even greater significance with the explosion of smart phones.. The landgrab is fierce among the Device manufacturers – RIM, Apple, Samsung…, Service Providers – Verizon, AT&T, Sprint…., OS providers – Microsoft, Symbian, Google (Android)…., and groups that were not talked about much at the session – the Content developers that include large old media players such as Time Warner, and the new Advertising giants such as Google and Yahoo.

The last two categories seem to offer great opportunities for entrepreneurs, considering advertising on the net is now mainstream and there is an seemingly infinite appetite for mobile apps from enterprises and consumers – to do business differently and then relax at ‘Farmville’!

Second, as it relates to the new Media, it is amazing how quickly the latest form of ‘Media’ has completely surrounded humankind. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Linked In now seem to dictate how the Fortune 500 allocate their advertising dollars to reach that humankind, even more than the Yahoos, Googles and Bings.  This transition has happened faster than the transitions from Newspapers to Radio/TV and then to the Internet.

On the flipside, the interaction you have with people when you meet them face to face is infinitely more powerful. And it was interesting to note that most people came to know about these ‘online’ trends at a physical event like this. And I still love the feeling of opening my crisp WSJ in the morning, spreading it out and getting a quick read on what happened in the world (may be that hologram device that can simulate the same experience of opening and reading paper is on its way!).. As they say, it is all about perspective!

The Money panel talked about various sources of funds to start a business – VCs, Banks, Angels, Friends and family. Wish there was more discussion on the cash sitting in US corporations’ coffers that could be put to use to launch and nurture ideas, and the value of bootstrapping and growing a venture through revenue.

Finally regarding Markets, the panel I had the honor of leading (actually the topic was Globalization – how to survive and succeed in today’s global environment), the conclusion was somewhat counter-intuitive. We live today in a global society. Markets are global. Suppliers are global. Resources are global. Distances have shrunk completely. Each business – small or large needs to define what ‘globalization’ means to its operation in that context. Simply put, it would behoove businesses to take advantage of such a shrunken world – whether it is to tap into markets worldwide, identify locales to establish suppliers or operations in, or outsource activities to capable and cost efficient locations halfway around the globe. These operational considerations are equally applicable to an entrepreneur as to an established business.

In thinking about it, from an entrepreneur’s standpoint, the journey might be that of going from ‘locally global’  to ‘globally local’. In other words, it is easy, with today’s technology to ‘display’ a global image, from your garage. As you grow your business though, and start planting footholds, you start serving your customers and partnering with suppliers in different geographies, and you begin to go ‘local’. Is that the type of journey that is typical of a business that starts today ? Perhaps!

With that said, an entrepreneur’s primary motivation is the idea, the vision, the dream that made him take the plunge in the first place. The persistence, infinite optimism, the ‘fire in the belly’, the ‘never say die’ spirit – these are the qualities that define the entrepreneur. Everything else will fall in place in due time – locally or globally !!

More to come..

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