American Tamil Entrepreneurs Association conference held

The American Tamil Entrepreneurs Association organized its first ever conference at the Cherry Valley Country Club in New Jersey on May 27.  The daylong event featured some of the top entrepreneurs, business and thought leaders who discussed topics like the latest trend in healthcare-modulation, challenges of being a woman entrepreneur, importance of having a mentor, the recipe for entrepreneurial success and bootstrapping.

The conference was held in conjunction with the 44th annual Tamil Nadu Foundation convention held a mile away. American Tamil Entrepreneurs Association (ATEA) is a non-profit organization that promotes and motivates next generation of entrepreneurs both in USA and India. ATEA is exempt from federal income tax under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section of 501 (c) (3). ATEA mission is to “Educate, Empower, Elevate and Expand” Entrepreneurs (5 Es) at every stage of the startup business life cycle.

In her keynote address, businesswoman, philanthropist and a Grammy-nominated musician Chandrika Tandon urged the audience to “break boundaries” and “discover oneself,” and along the way “network and build communities.” She told the gathering the importance of being curious, whether for an idea, for oneself, or for the community. Tandon’s speech was followed by several accomplished speakers who touched upon various aspects of owing and starting a business, and the ever-changing and growing technology.

Arun Sundararajan, professor of information, operations and management sciences and a doctoral coordinator at the Stern School of Business at New York University spoke about the revolution and its impact on the economy. Sundararajan discussed ways to adapt in a world that is constantly changing and evoked examples of services such as YouTube, Uber and Airbnb.

Ram Iyer of the Business Thinking Institute in Princeton, New Jersey, targeted budding entrepreneurs and offered tips on being successful. Ability, capability, reasoning and a willingness to learn are some of the qualities of a successful entrepreneur, Iyer said.

Through a series of graphs and charts, he explained the differences between confidence and arrogance, being business-minded versus being a businessman and the importance of out-of-the box thinking and asking the right questions.

Nagappan is the current CIO of Pershing, BNY Mellon Lena Kannappan, founder of ATEA and chair of Silicon Valley Region, who attended the event, told India Abroad that it was exciting to see the interest displayed by aspiring young and women entrepreneurs that participated in the conference. “It’s gratifying to see the accomplished businessmen from the area to come forward to share knowledge and be a part of the growing eco system,” Kannappan, who is also the Chief Operating Officer and Board Member of 8K Miles Software Services, said.

Among the highlights of the conference were women participants, some of whom addressed some of the sessions. And then there were young and aspiring entrepreneurs in business attire who could be seen taking copious notes and networking, seeking advice and mentorship. Some even took to the stage — high school junior Nishta Venkatesh moderated a panel of on the needs of an aspiring business owner.

Along with panelists Ritu Gopi, cofounder of 361 Degree Mind, a learning and education company based in Chennai, and Geeta Changappa of the Trichy REC — Science and Entrepreneurs Park (TREC-STEP), Venkatesh touched upon the importance of having an idea, an aspiration, a mentor and funding for a budding entrepreneur.

Attendees also learned about franchising, how to scale a company and how to bootstrap. They networked, exchanged ideas and inspired one another.

ATEA was founded by a group of successful entrepreneurs, corporate executives, investors and academicians with a goal of giving back to their community by sharing their knowledge and expertise with the next generation of entrepreneurs, Ram Nagappan, cofounder and chair of the ATEA North East Region. Headquartered at the FalconX Incubator in the San Francisco area, the organization, according to Kannappan, has regional presence across Silicon Valley, North East and Mid-West regions.”

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