Weinstein roams India; builds Chicago bridges

November 28, 2005


'Hello from Bangalore," says David Weinstein, president of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center. Weinstein is one high-energy guy. He's always out advocating for Chicago's entrepreneurs. He's a Lane Tech grad who's willing to travel to the other side of the globe to make a contact for Chicago. He's not stuck in the neighborhoods. He knows our economic future is all about making Chicago a global gateway.

I just finished reading The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century by Thomas L. Friedman (Farrar, Strauss, $27.50, 488 pages). The book is a must read for anyone in Chicago who wants to understand how technology is changing our global competitive landscape, and is impacting all of us.

As if on cue, on my computer screen is a note from Weinstein, the kid from Lake View who is trying to build global bridges.

"I just finished a series of excellent meetings with India's pioneers in the technology world that were inspirational," he says.

He met Pradeep Kar, president-elect of TiE in Bangalore. TiE is a global entrepreneurial support group with a strong Chicago chapter headed by Lisle Technology Partners CEO Adarsh Arora.

Arora helped Weinstein meet Kar, a six-time entrepreneur who runs Microland Limited. He also arranged meetings with Ashok Soota, managing director of Mindtree Consulting and co-founder of Wipro.

"It was great to get the word out about Chicago," Weinstein says. "They see Chicago as the capital of the Midwest, and an untapped market for India's entrepreneurial businesses. They like the diversity of Chicago's entrepreneurial base as a source for products and services to sell in India."

Weinstein laid the foundation to help Chicago companies set up shop in India.

"Bangalore has cranes and glass-clad buildings going up everywhere," writesWeinstein, who describes cows still walking in the roads. He sees stark contradictions, but remarkable growth.

Foreign direct investment and the potential Wal-Martization of India are controversial, according to Weinstein. "Malls are going up everywhere," he says, but there's still room for growth if an intrepid Chicago developer wants to step up. With the direct flight on American Airlines between Chicago and New Delhi, that seems a real possibility.

Adds Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce President Jerry Roper, who went to India as well, "This trip was instrumental in building relationships with the key business organizations in New Delhi and Bangalore on behalf of Chicago's emerging entrepreneurs."

Over Thanksgiving, I started reading Chicago journalist Ted Fishman's book China, Inc. How the Rise of the Next Superpower Challenges America and the World (Scribner, $26, 342 pages). If you want to know where the jobs are going and how we can capture more here in Chicago, it's another good read.

Motorola Center goes seamless

Motorola made a $600,000 grant to Northwestern University last week to promote collaboration and technology commercialization. The company christened the Motorola Center for Seamless Communications at the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Motorola will fund 10 research projects by Northwestern graduate students and faculty.

Student Empowerment

The Black Data Processing Association hosts its first annual Student Empowerment Retreat Saturday at the Embassy Suites in Lombard. The event is designed for college and graduate students and college-bound 11th- and 12th-graders seeking technology careers.

"The goal is to empower students and build skills for success," says Robert Blackwell Sr., founder of Blackwell Consulting. Topics include leadership tutorials, insight on gaining financial independence and tips on negotiating that first job offer. For more information go to www.bdpa-chicago.org.

Bits & Bytes

Purdue Research Park biotech startup QuadraSpec Inc. raised $3.9 million in a series A round. Spring Mill Venture Partners led the round with Village Ventures as a co-investor. QuadraSpec's CEO Chad Barden credits the Indiana Economic Development Corporation for assisting the company in gaining funding.

Chicago Public Library spokesperson Maggie Killackey says, "Chicagoans have an option for free Wi-Fi in every neighborhood." All 79 Chicago Public Library locations provide free computers and free Internet access.

Michael Krauss is a Chicago area tech writer and consultant.



 ©2005 Marion Consulting Partners