TiECON to get benefit of Gaitonde's experience

September 26, 2005


'It takes a village to create successful entrepreneurs," Sunil Gaitonde says. "It takes elders -- people who have done it before. It takes money. It takes good universities. It takes great civic leaders."

Gaitonde should know. Last August he sold his Oakbrook Terrace based tech startup Sarvega to Intel for a tidy, but undisclosed, sum. Gaitonde could retire. Instead, he's building another company and he's chairing Saturday's TiECON Midwest 2005 event at the Hyatt Regency.

With 450 attendees, TiECON is a sellout. That says something promising about Chicago. Entrepreneurship is alive and well. It means our economic future is bright, at least as long as there are successful elders like Gaitonde who give their time and share their expertise.

Gaitonde and fellow organizer Adarsh Arora, CEO of Lisle Technology Partners, have lined up the civic leaders, the universities and the venture capitalists. They've got Motorola CEO Ed Zander, Kellogg dean Dipak Jain and venture capitalist J. B. Pritzker, to name just a few. They have six panels brimming with experts on entrepreneurship.

The original tech startup

Motorola's Zander says, "We think of Motorola as the original high-tech startup and want to give back to the Chicago community where it all started." Motorola under Zander is becoming the anchor tenant of a Chicago tech renaissance. Zander's appearance Saturday marks a turning point for Chicago's tech community. His presence and interest bode well.

The goal of TiECON is to share knowledge and catalyze entrepreneurship. That's why TiE -- which stands for The Indus Entrepreneurs -- was founded by successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs in 1992. The group has grown to 42 chapters in 9 countries with more than 10,000 members, including a powerful and thriving Chicago chapter.

Gaitonde knows the benefits of TiE. In 1998, he moved here from California. His job was still in California, and he was commuting back and forth. He wanted to start a business. He showed up at a TiE event. It was called "Thirty Companies in Five Minutes," Gaitonde says. Thirty presenters had just five minutes to describe their entrepreneurial venture.

That day, Gaitonde met his Sarvega co-founders, John Chirapurath and Girish Juneja. He met the aspiring engineers whom he hired to build Sarvega. "My company, Sarveda, is a pure TiE success story," Gaitonde adds.

Gaitonde expects more Chicago success stories will emerge from Saturday's TiECON. He's right. And that's good for all of us.

Springboard supports women

Eleven female-owned companies present Wednesday at Springboard: Midwest 2005. Organized by Springboard Enterprises and the Center for Woman Entrepreneurs in Technology at Northwestern, Springboard is the top venture forum for female entrepreneurs. Presenters seek $3 million to $5 million in funding from an audience of 150 venture investors expected to attend.

"This year's presenters are well-poised for venture investment," Center for Women Entrepreneurs director Nancy Sullivan says.

Presenters are selected from 100 female-owned companies across the Midwest. "Over 300 women-owned companies supported by Springboard have raised over 3 billion dollars in capital," Sullivan adds.

New to this year's program is a half-day session on angel investing. Sona Wang, principal, Ceres Venture Fund; Lauren Flanagan, managing partner, Phenomenelle Angels; and Stephanie Hanbury-Brown, founder, Golden Seeds, will provide insights.

Kudos to Kristi Lafleur, chief of staff of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and the National Science Foundation's Dr. John Hurt, who are big backers of Springboard.

Bits & bytes

Two top public-sector CIOs should have been recognized in last week's column: Catherine Maras O'Leary of Cook County and Ellen Barry of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority. Barry is incoming president of the Society for Information Management.

Xtreme Cybermania hits Navy Pier Friday through Sunday. DePaul University electronic gaming experts will be on hand to improve your play.

The U.S. tech industry added 190,000 net jobs in the last 18 months, according to the American Electronics Association. Marty Singer, CEO of PCTEL, keynotes tomorrow's AeA forum on mergers and acquisitions at the Prudential Plaza.

Michael Krauss is a Chicago area tech writer and consultant.



 ©2005 Marion Consulting Partners