Rajat Gupta, covering the Tie-ISB Connect 2006 for us, attended the Technology track on Day 2 of the event. His report:
Day 2, Track 4
Ashok Jhunjhunwala, Professor at IIT Madras, in his keynote address, spoke about the work that has been going on at the TeNeT Group. They’ve started over 10 companies in last 10 years, with about 1000 engineers to create products for the empowerment of rural India. The technologies, he said, are highly advanced and drive the connectivity and applications in rural kiosks. Among these technologies is the- CorDECT technology, a WLL standard aimed at providing converged services at an affordable cost.
TeNet launched Midas Communications to enable affordable connectivity in rural locations, setting a cost target of Rs.10,000 per phone line, as opposed to an earlier cost for the service provider estimated at Rs.40,000/line. It was first deployed in rural areas in February 2000, with around 65 villages in Kuppam Taluk in Chittoor District of Andhra Pradesh connected within a radius of 25 km. Midas now has a target of 200 million phone lines by 2008, mostly in rural India.
Other TeNet companies include Nilgiri (Minnow ISP in a box), NMS Works(Network management) , CK-Shakti (Indian Language Office Package), OOPS (Multi-party multi-rate video conferencing), Vortex (Rural ATM Machine), Neurosynaptics (Medical Diagnostic kit). Prof. Jhunjhunwala believes that India is a huge market, but only at the right price point.
Pradeep Gupta (CyberMedia, Band of Angels), Srini Koppulu (Microsoft), Vani Kola(NEA Indo-US), Raj Gollamudi (Bluestream Ventures), Joga Rao (Computer Associates), Ajit Deora (Light Speed Ventures) and Srikanth Sunjararajan (Persistent) joined Ashok Jhunjunwala for the panel disussion on Technology. The panel discussion was chaired by Sudheer Koneru (SumTotal) and Kalyan Manyam (PhoneLinx).
Ajit Deora entrepreneurs should sell out smart; there is no need for them to be logical and rational. One will make mistakes but it’s important to have fun while building a company.
Sunjararajan while replying to an audience question on opportunities in open source said that companies like SpikeSource that use open source to provide custom solutions and services to SME are doing well, so there are opportunities is open source. Demand will increase in the e-governance and education sector. Three big enterprise software companies IBM, Oracle and SAP have open source strategies and have done buyouts in this field also.
Gollamudi added that open source has commoditized software, and though it is possible to build services around open source, the results are mixed: JBOSS was recently acquired by RedHat for $350 mn. On the other hand, MySQL has high adoption among the open source community, but low revenues. Koppulu said that community aspect of open source is great but things can get messy as many times companies don’t follow the clean license practices.
Answering a question about what should be given more weightage while building a team – skills or attitude, Gupta, after giving an example from cricket, said that in a world where technology changes rapidly, skills become irrelevant fast; attitude is key. Gollamudi added that –