Saturday, July 12, 2008

Graduation (By Shobhit Chugh)

This blog below was written by someone who just graduated from the TiE Leadership Program, that I have run for two years. Since it captures the essence of the program, I am posting it here.

I cannot believe that 9 months have passed since we started the TiE Leadership Program! As I look forward to graduation today, I began to think what I had gained from the program? Am I a different Individual than what I entered the program as? Were these merely 9 months of classes at the end of which one gets a certificate of completion, and goes on his journey, or was it a true transformational experience?
So let’s reflect on what I went through this program….
Inspiration: Our monthly meetings bring one speaker one successful entrepreneur to talk about their experiences. The 2 most memorable sessions for me were Desh Deshpande talking about lessons he learned throughout his amazing career , and David Berry talking about 6 ventures he had already created despite being under the age of 35. These talks, while providing important lessons, serve as key inspirational moments to me. Moments that will hopefully encourage and inspire me when chips are down
Branding: Anupendra Sharma, our Coordinator, guide and friend, gave a short presentation on branding, talking about how every action we do reinforces our brand. Our brand = Packaging + Messaging + Value (Substance). I remember the whole class being completely silent, and Anupendra being concerned that he had sent the whole class into some sort of depression. The presentation made us all think, as to what our brand was. Had we ever thought that we were being judged and evaluated constantly based on each and every action we take? And what was our substance? Why were we there? I still don’t know the answers to many of these questions, but at least I feel that I am on the journey to finding these answers…
Why do you want to be an entrepreneur: I invited Dr. Pravin Chaturvedi to speak at our Tie Leadership Bootcamp which we organized as the last program in June 2008. We requested him to speak on the topic “Lessons from the trenches on building and leading an entrepreneurial team.” The 45 minutes he spent talking about Entrepreneurship were amongst the most inspirational talks I ever attended. Key takeaways
o For an entrepreneur, the key is the dream. The dream must always live on – even if the entrepreneur needs to cede control to others who might be better skilled to make the dream a reality
o Building the right team is the only thing that matters. If you are capable of bringing the right team to the right idea, you have won half the battle
o Talk about your idea to everyone. Constantly. You never know where the right feedback will come from. Listen to everyone, and don’t unnecessarily defend your idea against their criticism. This is the only way you can refine and adapt your idea
o Talk to people, constantly. Email doesn’t work as a mean of communication. A key strength of an entrepreneurial venture is building relationships with your co-workers. Don’t let that chance slip away
American Idol: At our bootcamp, we had the privilege of 3 very accomplished TiE Charter Members judge our one minute pitches. The judges were Vinit Nijhawan, Entrepreneur and former president of TiE Boston, Al Kapoor, President of Millennium Ventures and current president of TiE Boston and Dr. Pravin Chaturvedi, life sciences entrepreneur and CEO of IndUS Pharmaceuticals. They provided just the right mixture of critique, encouragement and advice for our ideas.
Healthcare: I know nothing about healthcare. But Alok Sathaye, my partner in this project, did know tons! We worked together on refining the business plan of a healthcare startup (name confidential), focusing on their pricing and go to market strategies. In this process I learned a lot, not just about healthcare, but about the consulting process, about business plans, pricing and go to market strategies, and sales
Socials: Another key part of the program was all the socializing after class. Through this, I got to know several of my batch mates; which ultimately, like B-School, might be the most important part of the program! And had a great time in the process.

Enough said – the program leaves me with a lot of memories. But above all it leaves me inspired. With a much greater understanding of what I need to do to succeed as a entrepreneur. With hard and soft skills, with lessons about life.

But above all with great friends. I am sure I can call anyone in my class of 2008, our super cool program managers Tamara and Vikas, and of course Anupendra, whenever I need help. Or just friends to play beer pong with…. I am very glad I joined this program, and hope that the next class likes it as much as I did.

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