Three R's need a 4th: Raisin' entrepreneurs

June 13, 2005


Education and entrepreneurship are two E's that mean everything for Chicago's future. If our schools are successful, we'll have a well-prepared work force. Without the entrepreneurs, where will our grads work? The manufacturing jobs are dwindling. The knowledge-economy jobs must be created.

We use standardized tests to measure our schools' success. But how do we measure our community's effectiveness creating entrepreneurs?

Adarsh Arora, president of TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) has an idea: Measure the involvement of the business establishment in supporting entrepreneurship.

Says Arora, "The key to succeeding in entrepreneurship is getting commercial sector leaders involved." The more successful CEOs and proven business leaders supporting local entrepreneurs the healthier our community will be. I agree.

Arora and TiE just landed Chicago's Big E, Motorola CEO Ed Zander, to keynote "TiEcon Midwest: Entrepreneurs in a Flat World," slated for Oct. 1. He's also booked Kellogg School Dean Dipak Jain to speak. It was Zander's participation that brightened Arora's outlook on local entrepreneurship. Mine too.

Arora is a successful serial entrepreneur. His current venture, Lisle Technology Partners, builds technology products for venture-backed firms. Arora has seen what local business leaders can accomplish in Silicon Valley. That's where TiE got its start. It began when a group of successful South Asian entrepreneurs banded together to foster entrepreneurship. Today TiE is highly diverse. Their programs support entrepreneurs of all backgrounds.

Modeling TiE's California success, Arora's TiE Midwest chapter has become a hot spot for local entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. Its events attract the cream of Chicago's entrepreneurial and venture capital community.

Arora's excited that a number of top execs signed on as charter members. He has recruited Tellabs CEO Krish Prabhu; Motorola CTO Padmasree Warrior; Installshield CEO Viresh Bhatia; Hewitt CTO Sanjeev Anand, and Sarvega Chairman Sunil Gaitonde.

TiE's also lined up advocates such as Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center President David Weinstein and VCs including KB Partners' Bob Zieserl; Arch Development Partners Managing Partner Tom Churchwell and William Blair Managing Director Ellen Carnahan.

So what's Arora's prognosis for Chicago? Short-term, he thinks local entrepreneurship needs a shot in the arm. He says we need more early stage venture capital.

I say we also need more mentored entrepreneurs with solid business cases and first customers in tow.

Longer-term, Arora is optimistic. "When I see business leaders getting together to support entrepreneurship, I know new businesses will get formed," he adds.

Winning in the ICE Age

Wednesday evening, Arora and TiE host a tune-up event for the October forum at the offices of Gardner Carton and Douglas. It's called, "Who will survive the ICE age?" where ICE stands for information, communications and entertainment.

These days ICE gets delivered over a common technology platform and network. That's why Comcast Senior Vice President Joe Stackhouse wants to sell you digital television, Internet connectivity and telephone service.

It's also why SBC CEO Ed Whitacre wants to sell you digital television, plus a DSL hookup and telephone service.

Is there room for Chicago's entrepreneurial community to make a buck on ICE? Arora thinks there are big opportunities, but not everyone will survive the ICE age.

Moderating Wednesday's panel will be Harsh Muthal, senior vice president, Satyam Computer Services. Panelists include Mark Pashan, vice president, Lucent; Mike Mulica, CEO, BridgePort Networks; Raghu Rau, corporate vice president, Motorola Networks, and Venkata Majeti, CEO, Ropan.

Monday, Monday

Illinois Technology Development Alliance President, Tom Thornton; Arch Development Partners Managing Partner Tom Churchwell and Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center President David Weinstein host their June Monday Morning Meeting today at UBS Tower on Wacker Drive.

Procelerate Technologies, a business process-improvement provider; Terra Firma Technologies, a systems integrator, and Uponus Technologies, a developer of compression and encryption technologies. strut their stuff seeking angel investors.

Michael Krauss is a Chicago area tech writer and consultant.


 ©2005 Marion Consulting Partners