IBCN – International Business Conference of Nagarathars – Two Phenomenal Days @ Singapore

Work your network and make your network work. The agenda of the conference was to instill the lost entrepreneurship legacy and facilitate networking opportunities among fellow nagarathars. Venue: Singapore. This was a fascinating conference and as one of the delegates put it ” The conference of 2 days was resonant to doing an MBA for 2 years”. Three hundred plus business folks across the globe attended the event and it was inspiring to chat with the attendees.


There were great learning’s these 2 days (November 23 and November 24, 2013) and the Who’s Who that matter attended the event. ‘Tamil Murasu‘ a leading Singapore daily covered the conference in its first page. S.R Nathan, former president of Singapore and K. Shanmugam Foreign Affairs and Law Minister of Singapore were the special invitees to the event. It was humbling to see President S.R Nathan find time for the conference. The delegates were eager to meet and take a picture with him. I was enthused to see the body language of Minister K. Shanmugam. The style with which he presented himself the 30 minutes he spent @ the conference left a lasting impression.


Great Learning’s, I would pass on to my children, family and friends.

M.V Subbiah: Teach kids about Entrepreneurship. Open a bank account for your children by age 4 and have them manage it. Offer them a sum of money that you could afford ($2000/$5000/$1000) at age 10. Let them invest , multiply and pay for their college education. A key take away for me personally, – ‘no man you transact with will lose, then you shall not’ (from Arthashastra).


Datuk Dr R. PALAN: Star Speaker of the conference and he kept the audience tuned through the entire speech. He stressed on the need of economic power being aligned with political power for businesses to sustain and perish. Ask questions, rely on Information, Succession Planning, need for Chettinad Institutions / VC’s and celebrate success. One of the questions asked by the delegates, what is the best time to exit a business? — The best time to exit is when you are at your peak.

Ramanathan Vairavan: A lot of speakers & delegates referred to his grand-dad Vallal Alagappa Chettiar, his legacy, entrepreneurship and philanthropic activities. He stressed on the need for case studies on failures, creating a better platform for the youth. He offered a lot of insights from his personal experiences, had modern thoughts,was forthcoming to accept,adapt change and also urged one to do so. It was also nice to see his mom ‘Umayal Ramanathan’ be active and attend the event.

Datuk P. Kasi: It was humbling to listen to his story. Started from scratch, grew and spread. The art of delegation (being out of touch(on a vacation) for six months and the business still thrives better and bigger.

Soma Valliappan: He is such an excellent speaker and have watched him speak several times. Working your network and making it work was his thought. It was also interesting and meaningful that he referenced several of the delegates who attended the event. Knowing someone is not adequate and when you network on conferences, provide your 100% attention to hear the person you are networking with.

Nagappan Valliappan: This was an entertaining speech from his life experiences. He was spontaneous and right on. I liked the fact that he quoted examples from his personal experiences right from childhood with his dad and how it shaped his business career. He was provided a sum of money to manage at a very early age and this aligned with the thoughts M.V Subbiah had talked about.


Ramasamy Chockalingam: “Money is round to go around” What a thought! Life experiences, Integrity and learning’s from his ‘Ayya’ (grand-dad). On a need to make a decision, he never compromises on values and asks himself a question, How would have his Ayya done it if he was put in a similar situation.

Manickam Ramasamy: This was the last keynote session of the event. Great way to end the conference. Correlating spirituality, hindutva with business was amazing. Forgive yourself for your past mistakes and set a time frame to get things straight was pragmatic. His references with the operating systems, technology with respect to business, human life and Philanthropy , an outcome based on happiness gives contentment / otherwise it would end by being a strategic CSR (which is also fine).

There was a plethora of great speakers . Anna Sundaram (listening to his Thirukural was refreshing, meeting his family (we had known each other so well, however never met until this conference), Nallakaruppan & N.S Narayanan from 711 Singapore (how to setup a franchise) , Meyyappan Annamalai (practical lessons he learnt from running his business), Ramu Veerappan, Sethuraman Sathappan (he offered to assist on import/export laws), Pari Annamalai (shared his experiences on Exit Strategy), Chockalingam Palaniappan ( invited folks to return to India and do business) , Solai Adaikalavan ( a networking portal was launched at the event).

The session of the achi’s (Lakshmipriya (she was the youngest to speak) and the preparation that went onto her speech was good. Valli Muthiah – She reiterated the power of woman, the role they play in the success of men (evident in today’s society) and her singing ability kept the momentum with the audience. Seetha Thenappan , a woman entrepreneur with her spices business in the UK and how the support system (especially her husband) helped fine tune her and be successful.


Chettiars by nature are low key people. The delegates were speakers themselves. It was humbling to see business leaders doing great work. It makes no sense to judge a person by his looks. I also bumped into a lot of folks in this conference . S. Muthuraman (Lakshmi Ceramics), he was a delegate speaker and an inspiring story starting from nothing, having failed many times and established a very successful enterprise. You would just bump into these people in the coffee / lunch breaks and be told that they run a large enterprise, worth several hundred crores.


IBCN – 2015 is being held in Coimbatore. A spirited team volunteered to organize the event in the industrial city and were geared to scale IBCN to greater heights. Another reason for me to be excited, my four years of engineering was @ GCT Coimbatore.


Congratulations to the President of IBCN, Dr. K. Vellayappan, IBCN Secretary- Suba Arunachalam & entire IBCN team– Singapore. Your hospitality was chettiar style, you took care of us like a bridegroom visiting the bride’s residence in Chettinad and scripted the success of this Wedding(Conference) forever. Many Congratulations and a BIG THANK YOU.

What a place to be? I am glad I made it.

When should you outsource software development to India and when not to outsource?

This is a question I keep getting asked when I meet entrepreneurs, business leaders, CTO’s, or even CEO’s. There is no simple answer. Often times, you cannot do without an extended Information Technology team in India. Working with an offshore team could also become a pain-point. I have seen companies fire the outsourced vendor and assemble a team to work in-house. Ask yourselves a few simple questions on how to proceed.

Can I assemble the team I need in-house? If the answer to this question is yes, go ahead and get the team to work at your location. Can anything get better than working with a programmer across the desk? This will certainly assist in getting the work done quicker and with effective communication.

Do I need a long term solution / Is it a one off deal? Are you looking to complete a specific project / are you looking at long term needs? If there are specific projects you need completed and there is no extension of work, you are better off outsourcing the work to a vendor.

Do you have the bandwidth to manage the team? If the answer is No, outsourcing to a vendor can give you a lot of flexibility and bandwidth. This is also reduced ownership. The onus is on the vendor you hire to deliver and if things do not pan out as planned, you always have a recourse.

Are you doing core product development? If the answer is yes, you are better off hiring a local team and have them sit in the same room to develop the product.

Affordability / Costs: Is this a decision making factor? Do not base your decision just based on costs. Always hire the right team. For a project the client was looking to execute, he was looking for 5 LAMP (PHP) developers. It was not easy for the client to hire locally. There was a severe scarcity of quality talent. Outsourcing to a competent team was his best option.

Be flexible in making a decision. If you find excellent technical talent in Nigeria, go for it. Go wherever the talent is. Communication, Availability, Competence, Ownership, Reliability are key line items that should influence decision making.

TiEcon Chennai 2013 – Believe Build and Become – A World Class Event

Thank you Tiecon Chennai 2013 for offering me a complimentary invite to attend the event. Believe Build and Become was the theme of the conference. Congratulations on organizing a truly world class event. Often times you are able to predict the outcome of an event. (The preparatory work clearly shows).

The registration process was world-class. I got an SMS from TieCon one day prior to the event with a registration number. The same registration number was re-sent in the morning prior to the start of the event. All I needed to do was to show up at the registration counter, tell my number and bang, the badge was ready. The event started dot @ 9:30. (no delays, and they stuck to the schedule). Namma Chennai.

The event opener was grandeur with an extraordinary show by Murali Krishna of Jus Drums. The entertainment/ dance performances by the team from Orissa deserves a lot of credit. It was encouraging to see a lot of students from various colleges / universities across Tamil Nadu attend the event. Great Job by the organizers on passing around passes to these students. This is truly who the conference is meant for(showers a lot of inspiration to students listening to the great speakers). It was also interesting to see University / Campus Placement officers networking with entrepreneurs. Student volunteers were all around the conference venue to offer help.


Believe Build and Become Anthem: Inspiring, Motivating. Congratulations to the team on making a world class video. We need this on the Tiecon Chennai Website.

Pressure is Privilege: Vijay Amirtaraj, It was great listening to you on your life experiences and loved when you said Pressure is Privilege. Truly Inspiring speech. Desire, Discipline, Dedication, Determination and Divine Intervention were the 5Ds to success (Vijay Amirtaraj) – Privilege to have studied at the same school DB 20 years later(guesstimate)

Vijay Amritaraj

Building an Entertainment Business (Apsara and Karthik Kumar): Apsara did a great job moderating the session (she let the panel members speak and also provided a lot of data). Karthik Kumar, you were right on and honest on the flaws with the entertainment business today (piracy, distribution, DTH) and insights on the urge to change and adapt technology were very relevant with the objectives of the conference. Good Luck with Evam.


Future Perfect: Opportunities for Next Gen: I enjoyed this session and the aspirations of Ananthapadmanabh, GRT group / candidness of Vedand Jhavar (Prodapt Solutions) and the attachment of Jayashree Ravi (Palam Silks) to her dad and the support system was excellent to listen to. Sushila Ravindranath , moderation was great and wish we had more of this session.


Building a Brand: Where there is no earning there is learning and if you do not make money, quit (were a few quotes) that caught my attention.


Entry & Parking: I was there at the Leela Palace Venue @ 8:50 AM and did not have any issues. However for delegates / attendees who came in @ around 9:30 AM, they had to wait close to 30 minutes or so to get in. The venue was great, However this is something which could be looked into in the next Tie conference.

Session Placement / Speakers: The choice of speakers was great. However, switching the slots of a few sessions / speakers would have made it more interesting.

Congratulations Raju Venkataraman,Lakshmi Narayanan and the entire team @ TIE-Chennai. This was a great and world class event. You have set the bar high.

Note: The pictures may not be high quality and were taken from my phone.

How can parents prepare for LKG Admissions?

LKG Admissions can be a daunting task on any parent. The admission process/exercise could be grueling. You always want to provide the best to your kids and unfortunately the choices of good schools in the locality you live in will be limited. Higher fees is not the only criteria to imply quality education. Here are some tips on how to prepare for your child’s LKG admissions. (P.S: My daughter was admitted to LKG in the 2013 academic year).

Information Gathering: Talk to fellow parents to have more insights on the school and admission process. Good Schools in the city do not encourage middlemen for admission exercises. Most schools update their website on a regular basis. Check the respective school websites on a periodic basis so you do not miss any dates.

Distance: Ensure you choose a school that is close to your home/ where you live. This will play a critical role in getting an admit. You may even consider shifting your residence closer to the school.

Residence Proof: Ensure you have a valid residence proof. Some schools do not accept bank statements as residence proofs. A ration card will be a valid residence proof. Land line telephone bills will also be accepted as valid residential proof. Tenant/Landlord Lease Agreements are not accepted in most schools as residential identities.

Affiliations / CBSE Approved Schools: You need to make sure that the school you plan to admit your son/daughter to has the required affiliations to the appropriate boards (CBSE/State board). There have been instances where a few schools have provided admits without the required affiliations. This complicates the process of getting your child admitted to another school for a higher grade.

Siblings: Most schools by default offer siblings an admit.

Do not miss deadlines: Most schools do not accept late applications. For their administrative ease, you need to apply within the specified dates. Schools do not entertain your application if you fail to apply within the timeline specified.

Do not rely on one school: Plan ahead and increase the probability of admission. Do not rely on a single school. Nothing is certain until you get an admit letter. I would at-least apply to a minimum of 7 schools.

Do not reject a school because you presume the admit will be difficult: I have had friends not apply to a particular school because they presumed that it will be difficult to get an admit and there could be numerous applications. Always Apply. This is the first step.

Add a Cover Letter: Most schools do not accept cover letters. However, whenever you can, make sure to include a well written cover letter (This could also be on the letter head of the company you work for). Little things make a big difference in getting noticed.

Persistence Pays: Though the school may not entertain you, make it a point to visit the school and meet the authorities concerned. Let them be aware of your presence and interest. Do it as many times as you can and also make sure you do not bother them.

Ask for help: Each one of us understand that it is not a straight-forward exercise to get an admit to LKG. Engineering and Medicine admissions are more predictable. Do not hesitate to ask for help.

Past Pupils Association: Be a member of the Past Pupils Association and lot of schools provide preference to children of past pupils. Ensure you build a rapport with the school management and contribute through your past-pupils association. Do not just show up at the time of admission and ask for an admit.

Do not waste time standing in over-night lines: Most schools offer online applications. Apply online and save time. Some schools do not offer online applications and provide application forms in person spread over a 3 day window. It is not required for you to sleep over night and be the first one to receive an application form. Preserve your time and it is okay to get the application form the second day. It makes no difference to the admission process.

Backup Plan: If you fail to get an admit in all the schools you have applied, make sure you have a back-up plan. It should be easy to secure an admit in new and private schools. Your personal savings can come in handy here to cover up the fees.

Flexibility at work: Inform your immediate supervisor and let your bosses know that your son/daughter needs to be admitted in LKG the following academic year. Let them know in advance that you may need flexibility @ work place and there maybe days you would need to take off / be on permission. Provide your bosses with advance notice. They understand.

I hope the application and admission process gets simpler and more transparent. This can happen only with more quality schools which are reasonably priced. There is a dearth of good schools today. Schools make a big difference to the attitude and behavior of kids. It is great for your child to be surrounded with smart children.

All the very best in the admission process.