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November 5, 1999
Curtains drawn on CSI's 34th annual conventionA Staff Reporter in Bombay
The mega IT jamboree hosted by the Computer Society of India came to a close on Thursday.
The convention was packed with over a 100 speeches and presentations on 15 different themes, 11 technical tutorials and one contest on Web application development.
One of the most well attended sessions was the Wednesday afternoon session on venture capital in IT.
Ex-Wipro man Sudhir Sethi, currently heading Walden in India; Abhay Havaldar, MD, Draper; and Sanjiv Sanchar Director, Egon Zhender; Hetal Gandhi of IL&FS ventures; Jaychander of ICICI ventures and Kayu Mehta of BankAm showed the way to the aspiring dot coms present at the seminar.
They shared the mantras of venture funding: When to exit from the investment? What will be the exit valuation? What will be the exit vehicle?
In short: If they have the answers to how to end the marriage they were willing to marry the entrepreneur.
On the other side of the panel were the entrepreneurs: Ashutosh Roy is co-founder of E-gain that providers application software; Rajesh Jain is the founder of Indiaworld, a news portal and Piyush Khaitan of Evi.com.
Joining them was Shubhankar Chatterjee of infiniTV, who has plans of launching a technology channel on television. They agreed that lack of resources was the most common worry and the solution lay in how best to exploit a venture capitalist.
The three mantras of a start-up were roughly listed as: take more than you need (only if the capital comes cheap), and you can do so if you can convince the VC that you own a super core team and keep your team happy with a good stock option pool.
But this only brought forth the chicken and egg problem of how to get a good core team without having the money to pay for it.
Though there was no single answer to the problem, the speakers concluded that it was important to keep a very clear agenda and not shy away from taking risks. A lesson already learnt by any entrepreneur.
The wide appeal of the topics selected for discussion reflected the CSI membership profiles, mainly IT users from a varied field.
Most of the subjects were general in nature and held the interest of software professionals as well as rookies, like: 'Have Indians been innovative in IT', 'IT application in education' and 'E-governance and the state'.
A cross-section of professionals from all fields attended these seminars. At the panel discussion on e-governance, inevitably, Andhra Pradesh government officials dominated the proceedings with live demos of online transactions of civic services.
Jayanti Ravi, MD, Gujarat Informatics also presented a study on the 'IT-ization' of Gujarat.
The absence of representatives from the host state, Maharashtra was conspicuous.
Though partly overshadowed by the visit of Nicholas Negroponte, founder of MIT's Media Lab, CSI 99 was a melting pot of a huge volume of computer users and providers who may have had a socially if not technically wonderful time at the convention.
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