Posts Tagged Entrepreneur

AI/ML Bootcamp at TiEcon2020

Artificial Intelligence emphasizes the development of machines that think and reason like humans. As this technology is becoming more and more sophisticated where machines are acquiring an ability to learn, reason and self-correct, the applications of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are expanding and are becoming relevant to almost all professional areas. 

Artificial Intelligence, Brain, Think, Control

At TieCon 2020, a bootcamp focused on AI/ML will provide an overview of the methodologies and its implications in many professions. Experts in the field will share information on deploying and monetizing AI applications. 

Dr. Ronjan Nag will lead the workshop. Dr. Nag co-founded the technology company Lexicus that was acquired by Motorola in 1993 and Cellmania that was acquired by Research in Motion in 2010. Later, he served as Vice-President of both Motorola and Blackberry, and served as Chairman of Eratz Labs, which specializes in ML. Currently, Dr. Nag is a Fellow at Stanford Distinguished Careers Institute and is founder and managing director of R42 Group. 

In addition to Dr. Nag, AI/ML bootcamp speakers will include several experts. Dr. David Stevens is an IP attorney specializing in patent prosecution, due diligence, infringement, right-to-practice, freedom-to-operate, licensing and litigation. Dr. Eric Saund, Principal of Saund Laboratories has over 50 patents, is widely published and his prototypes have served thousands of users. Vaidhi Nathan has 30+ years of experience as an entrepreneur and business leader and was founder and CEO of IntelliVision, an AI/Analytics focused company for videos and cameras that was acquired by Nortek Security and Control.  Matteo Colombo has 18 years of information technology and consulting experience and is currently senior executive at KPMG.

In this bootcamp, attendees will learn the basics of how AI techniques work so they can effectively lead data science teams, evaluate business potential of AI projects before investing and critically evaluate AI products for business deals. This is a not-to-miss workshop for professionals who are attending #TiEcon2020 and work in AI/ML related field and need to expand their knowledge base. Registration is open at 


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Technology disruptors like AI & Data reshaping Marketing & Advertising with improved personalization & enhanced targeting

Technology is impacting every area of our lives. Blending marketing and advertising with technology dubbed MarTech and AdTech, is entirely changing the marketing landscape. When combined with big data and AI, there is now greater efficiency in advertising and marketing; from building, managing, delivering and optimizing campaigns, to placing, buying, and selling ads, to targeting to most optimum potential buyers.

Image result for what is martechBut it’s not about build it and they will come or turn it on and it will deliver. Often martech purchase decisions underdeliver. As an entrepreneur, if you plan to lead your company through various stages of business lifecycle from seed stage to growth stage to expansion and maturity, then you will encounter an array of marketing challenges that will require different strategies and tactics.  While in earlier phase, your focus will be on building customer and prospect lists to drive product awareness, it will soon evolve into tracking and accessing purchasing activities, supporting customer segmentation based on demographics, past purchase history and gaining deeper insight about the customer to support segmentation and personalized targeting.

At TiEInflect 2018, the largest entrepreneurship conference to take place in May at Santa Clara Convention Center, a focused track on MarTech will feature exciting topics like “Marketing to the power of AI”, “Marketing maturity model for entrepreneurs” and more. Register for the conference at .

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Six Ways to Fail as an Entrepreneur – Tom Duerig

Dr. Tom Duerig founder of NDC, Nitinol Development Corporation (alternative name, Nitinol Devices and Components), spoke on the topic of entrepreneurship, at event.  Duerig said, while there isn’t a given recipe for entrepreneurial success, there are certainly ways that one can fail and knowing that can help one avoid these common modes of failure.

Duerig began by giving the history of how he found NDC and it begins with the story of the metal, nitinol.  While he worked at Raychem, he realized the enormous potential of this metal.  He formed NDC in 1991, with no patents, no IP, no business plan, no space to work, no products and a tiny sum of $420K raised from individual investors comprising of friends and family.  “What we had was vision”, said Duerig.

So what is nitinol?  Nitinol is a metal alloy of nickel and titanium.  Nitinol exhibits the unique properties of shape memory and superelasticity, along with twinning.  What is extraordinary about nitinol is that its super elasticity effect is within a very narrow temperature range; the temperature inside a human body.  That makes it ideally suited for medical devices, particularly devices implanted inside the body.  Nitinol is ideally suited for stents and guidewires.  Its super elastic nature enables it to not cause trauma and force vessels out.  It is biocompatible and gives exceptional displacement controlled fatigue resistance performance.

1. Entrepreneurship is akin to navigating through a maze of pitfalls and yet if you don’t buy a ticket, you don’t win, said Duerig.  So number one reason for failure is when you have an idea but you don’t take a chance.  At NDC, they had one idea and found one easy product to launch in eye glasses.  That was a wrong product and they were in a wrong business with ultra thin margins.  But they had bought their ticket.

2. It is easy to run out of cash, said Duerig.  Keep the burn rate low and be proud of it.  It is not important to have a fancy facility, when the cash is fast depleting.   Raise more money than you need and then honor cash as if it were your life savings, said Duerig.

3. Next it is important to change and being ready to pivot.  However, when you want to ride a big wave, you need to be 100% committed.  And yet, when you see indications that things don’t seem to go as planned, then it is important to get out fast and catch the next big wave, observed Duerig.  For NDC, a right wave arrived in 1993, and that was the wave they caught; making medical stents.

Even when you catch a good wave, you can’t ride it for too long.  Engineers often love their ideas and don’t know when to quit, said Duerig.  Often there are indications that no matter how committed you are are to your idea, it might not work and it is better to quit.  For instance, when an entrepreneur can’t raise independent money, then it is probably not a viable idea.  At NDC, they were however trapped by their cap table; they had given away too much equity for eye glass business.  So they needed to sort out those details.

4. It is important to not have a divisive cap table.  A divisive cap table leads to lack of unity in governance, and divided governance leads to failure.  Duerig’s advice to the entrepreneurs is that simpler a cap table is, easier it is.  Learn and know everything about liquidation preferences and hire a good attorney, said Duerig.

5. Consider a small win, to be a good win, said Duerig.  He warned against excessive greed.  Durieg advised entrepreneurs to share success, know their limitations, and celebrate the wins that come their way.  When J&J came knocking, NDC accepted the deal and became part of J&J.  Initially, it was hard being a part of a behemoth.  But J&J came to treasure the diversity of thought and considered it a highly successful acquisition.

Durieg helped launch many stents and other medical products, while at J&J.  But a few years later, another wave arrived: another window opened, and Durieg led successful negotiation effort with J&J, for NDC spinout.  NDC now operates as a highly successful, privately held company, with 500 employees, with healthy balance sheet and high profitability.  Durieg remains the CTO, but has recently stepped down as CEO, so we have to watch for the next big wave he will catch.

6. The last point may seem like a no-brainer, but it is perhaps Durieg’s most pertinent advice to entrepreneurs.  He said, luck plays a part and it is possible that luck may not be on your side.  How can an entrepreneur prepare for such an eventuality?  “Don’t give up your day job”, said Duerig.

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Changing World of Medtech Investors (includes Software, Big Data, Mobile, Biotech & more) – 2015 WSGR Conference

While there has been a decline in traditional medtech investments, non-traditional investors are investing in new and emerging areas, in medtech.  Software and IoT investors are interested in containing hospital costs and increasing operational efficiency in healthcare institutions.  Biotech investors are interested in alternative therapies, and internet investors are looking at ways to change the way devices are sold and big data investors are looking at opportunities to contain disease outbreaks and better manage large disease populations.  International investors are tapping US expertise to build medtech businesses at home.

A panel at WSGR 2015 Medical Device Conference, moderated by Uday Kumar, Founder and CEO at Element Science Inc., addressed the changing world of medtech investors.  Joining Kumar on the panel were Tom Rodgers, SVP & Managing Director at McKesson Ventures; Andrew Atwell, Principal at Global Innovation Center, Strategic Investments Group; Asha Nayak, Global Medical Director at Intel Corporation; and Conrad Wang, Senior Director of Corporate Development at Medtronic.  Below are some highlights from very interesting panel discussion on changing face of medtech investment.

According to Wang, Medtronic vision is to be a collaborative solution provider in healthcare, with a specific focus on new therapies and geographic diversity of emerging markets.  His advice to entrepreneurs, “focus on how your solutions can create value”.  Instead of being enamored by a technological enhancement, entrepreneurs should keep in mind the impact that the new breakthrough may have on the stakeholders in the healthcare delivery chain. Due to a combination of factors, chronic conditions are increasing globally.  Medtronic looks for opportunities that would enable healthcare providers from engaging in episodic care of chronic diseases to providing continuous care.

Atwell said there are numerous opportunities in the Big Data space, particularly in consumer generated data.  “Our main driver of revenue are mobile devices”, said Atwell.  There are also many challenges.  For instance, it is challenging to get accurate data and see meaningful trends.  It is also a challenge to understand early on how large the market might be and how quickly adoption may happen.  Atwell said his group invests in early and seed stage to A and B rounds and typically invest from $250K to $3M, in any given opportunity.  “We focus on building collaboration among experts from data analytics, health IT, and workflow efficiency”, said Atwell.  He further observed, “additionally, we also look at behavior change space since there is so much access to individuals through their mobile devices”.  Even if they may not help exert deep influence and impact in changing behaviors, mobile devices can exert significant influence over much larger population and can be an effective behavior change tool, said Atwell.

According to Nayak, Intel approach is to provide a piece of healthcare solution that fits in enhancement of health and quality of life, while keeping in mind TCO or total cost of ownership, in healthcare.  Her advice to entrepreneurs, “you should know if you are able to provide a piece that will fit in total solution, even if that may be a few years later”.  From consumer devices, typically wearables, an entrepreneur should be able to harness value in a trustworthy manner.  There are some key questions that an entrepreneurs must ask. 1) Is the data trustworthy, not just in accuracy, but can it be consistently used by the right person?  2) With wearables, one needs to add unequivocal value and discern it from gobs of data.  3) An entrepreneur must consider how it will fit into the current workflow without adding more time to the system.  Entrepreneurs often don’t get this piece, said Nayak.  4) Security of data is critical.  Anytime data needs to be securitized, any time data moves, Intel makes money on it, said Nayak.  5) How is the cost and care impacted through wearables.  Nayak said, Intel is interested in building ecosystems and platforms around the notion of building long term improvement in healthcare, at lesser cost.  Intel invests in all stages from seed to commercialization.   “My group is interested in partnership, and all of our investment is strategic”, said Nayak.  Many areas of interest include, telemedicine, patient management of telemedicine, management of chronic and acute care and also precision medicine, genomics, and analytics that can extract data, said Nayak.

According to Rodgers now the focus is on whether or not an entrepreneur can you navigate the carpteted area of hospitals and provide actual solution that makes a difference.  His advice to startups is to position devices as service.  Device can also be a powerful tool to capture data to ultimately keep people healthy, said Rodgers.  However, average provider does not have the time or the training to deal with the deluge of data.  In order for the data to become actionable, we may need a whole layer sitting in between the patient and the provider, monitoring the datasets, observed Rodgers.  He also advised that entrepreneurs may focus on emerging growth areas and shift to models that enable direct consume care.  We focus on strategic areas, not tactical, said Rodgers.

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Rakeysh Mehra, famed Bollywood Filmmaker will speak at TiEcon 2014

Rakeysh Mehra, highly acclaimed Bollywood Filmmaker & Screenwriter, will speak at TiEcon 2014.  Have you registered?  You can register as my guest through the link and enter code “TiEvalue” to get $100 off.

The process of filmmaking begins with a great story and then the filmmaker or the producer needs to work with the screenwriter to develop the story or screenplay they have just purchased.  Rakeysh Mehra is an Indian filmmaker and screenwriter, known for writing and directing such films as Rang De Basanti (he won Best Director Filmfare Award for it in 2006) and directing blockbuster “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag”, starring Farhan Akhtar as Milkha Singh, India’s legendary runner (here’s link to my review  “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” acquired international fame and was nominated for 10 awards. Obtaining the right script and developing it into a good screenplay and then directing it into a successful film, is a highly challenging process, in the cut throat film world.  One needs to understand and develop the characters, ensure the dialogues are not lame, understand the story structure, identify the genre or the blend of genres and Mehra is brilliant, with each of the steps of filmmaking.

Delhi 6 Premiere

Delhi 6 Premiere (Photo credit: muckster)

Currently, India, the largest democracy in the world, is busy with the process of deciding its new leader.  Voting is in full swing, in India.  Mehra has been a critic of the vote bank politics and currently he is campaigning to introduce e-voting to facilitate voting by travelers.  Mehra is also deeply committed to children and the education system in India.  Regarding “Bhaag Milkha Baag”, Mehra said that to see the movie connect with children as young as six and eight, was the biggest part of his success with the movie that he is proud of.  He has criticized marks-driven, education system in India saying that it emphasizes test scores over actual learning and achievement.  Perhaps his next movie will address this issue?  The filmmaker was location hunting recently in Jodhpur, for his upcoming film.  Will there be announcements?  Mehra will give keynote address on the morning of day 2 of the conference.

See discount codes to register for TiEcon 2014, and for Health Technology Forum – If you are a professional  in #healthIT, #digital health,  #internetofthings, #cloud, #bigdata or related, then this is the conference, you don’t want to miss – It offers a fabulous opportunity to network with 3000+ professionals and listen to top notch speakers and panelists.  Register for #TiEcon (May 16 & 17 at Santa ClaraConvention Center) as my guest, at link  & enter promo code tievalue to get $100 discount.

Healthtechnology Forum conference, focused on exploring pathways to sustainable health, is on May 20 in SF. Please register for the conference as my friend, with the discount code “HTF14-FriendOfOrganizer” and send me your first & last name at wd_darshana at hotmail dot com, to get $150 off the price of the ticket.  Also check out & participate in code-a-thon on patient engagement, for May 8.  Over 20K+ in prizes.

JOBS: are posted at the link



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Lessons for Starting a Medical Device Company in Silicon Valley

Mr. Michael Allen, a serial entrepreneur, (previously in executive roles at Xlumena, Metrika, and Chemtrack), and currently CEO of Vascular Designs, a targeted drug delivery company, talked about “starting a medical device company in Silicon Valley”, at .


Financing is one of the major early challenges that entrepreneurs face.  While it begins with a good idea, they also need to obtain some seed financing, and they need a short 2 page summary.  Their business plan should be an outline that includes some financial projections, some data about market and market need, information about regulatory path and reimbursement issues.  Advocates, typically medical experts, are also needed.  With these pieces in place, they would be ready to go for institutional financing and begin to meet the investors.


The VC model has changed, said Allen.  Traditional VC model used to focus around a goal with very high end value, in the range of $250 M where 10’s of millions would be invested.  It was built around the idea of large management teams in the early phase and a ready sales force in anticipation of the launch, that often never happens.  Many VCs who adhered to this model, are out of business.  The current model is to focus on a goal to achieve a moderate exit.  Team is scaled in proportion to the need, sales force is maintained at small level until product and market are demonstrated.  It is assumed that delays are inevitable and cash is king.


Allen talked about his experience and learnings from leading ChemTrak from seed stage to IPO exit, with 6X return.  ChemTrak was a diagnostic company, with a single use diagnostic kit to measure Total and HDL cholesterol and other non-instrumented quantitative tests.  He also shared lessons in leading Metrika, another diagnostic company that was sold to Bayer, with 1.5X return plus ongoing royalty deal.  Metrika’s several products included A1C test, giving patients with diabetes on the spot feedback on their A1C number and e.p.t. pregnancy test.   They had some good patents, but mixing electronics, optics, and chemistry was very challenging, said Allen.  Allen’s next company Xlumena, is medical device company with products aimed to advance image guided endoscopic therapy.  These products allow minimally invasive alternatives for diseases of the organs that surround the GI tract.  Summarizing some of the learnings, Allen said, CEO is responsible for everything, no matter who makes decisions.


Allen’s current company, Vascular Designs offers a new treatment option for people suffering from life-threatening illnesses like cancer, through targeted drug delivery, as opposed to systemic approach.  Through transfemoral catheter, drugs can be delivered directly into the tumor cells and block the blood supply.  It allows for high concentration of drugs delivered, while at the same time, reduces systemic exposure, thus minimizing caustic side effects.  This procedure can be performed as an outpatient procedure, takes only about an hour, and nothing is permanently implanted.  For success of a venture, Allen stressed, it is very important to hire the right people.  He discussed hiring process he follows and also emphasized the importance of spending time and writing a good job description.  The talk was followed by Q&A.

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Nuts and Bolts of Entrepreneurship to Monetizing and Innovating to Building and Scaling the Business will be discussed at TiEcon 2012

TiEcon 2012 is just around the corner with exciting panels and speakers and outstanding keynotes lined up. While the entire conference focuses on spurring entrepreneurship, I am looking forward specifically to the panels in the entrepreneurship track.

Panels on Day 1 will focus on what it takes to be an entrepreneur and assuming one has a winning product, how one can bring it to market and create a buzz about the product? Rashmi Bansal, a youth expert, writer and entrepreneur will moderate a panel of Founders and CEOs of such companies as Kabam, Claritics, Stoke, Junglee, and Apptio. These entrepreneurs have struggled through the challenges and taken the companies through successful exists. Did they have to risk stability and comfort to pursue their dreams? What challenges they encountered and what level of flexibility was demanded of them to change course and give up their ego? They will likely share their experiences in how they met the challenges along the way to successful entrepreneurship. The afternoon panel in this track on day 1, will focus on how you could get others to care for your startup. Luminaries like Todd Greene, CEO, PubNub, Sharmila Shahani, CEO, Mulligan, Victoria Tryeger, CMO, RingCentral, and Paul Willard, CMO, Practice Fusion will discuss successful marketing strategies for startups, to rise above the noise.

Entrepreneurship track will focus on building and scaling the business on day 2. A panel moderated by William Choe, Partner with Morrison Foerster and panelists Vijay Advani, EVP at Franklin templeton, Dan Finnigan, CEO of Jobvite, and Kevin Buckby, Managing Partner with Riviera Partners, will discuss the importance of building winning teams. It is clear that in order to succeed, a startup not only needs a great product, but assemble the best people and build a powerful team. What are the strategies to attract the best, who can see the possibilities that you see, before they become obvious to others? This panel will share their perspectives on building a team, that can help take the idea to championship. Last panel in the entrepreneurship track, moderated by Sumant Mandal from Clearstone, with panelists Suresh vasudevan, CEO of Nimble Storage, Kris Duggan, CEO of Badgeville, and Rick Marini, CEO of Branchout will discuss how you scale the business and bring it to the point where you get market validation. This is a point where prospective talent approaches you, and investors take notice. This is also a stage where cash is evaporating quickly and you are not hidden from the competition.  A challenging time when just as quickly, a company can topple from the leading position, unless they figure out a way to monetize growth, apply the lessons of nimbleness, and continue to innovate. The panelists will share their perspectives on the leadership style and big thinking required at this stage, that makes it possible to scale the success achieved thus far.

These are not to miss panels, for all aspiring entrepreneurs. If you truly want to succeed at entrepreneurship, don’t overinvest in what you already know. Listen to those who have tackled the challenges, invest in learning what you don’t know yet, in order to get to all that might be possible. Register at before the prices go up on April 1, 2012.

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