It is Thanksgiving Day in Canada, and as the Canadian on the team – I wanted to take this opportunity to share my thanks to those who contributed to the evolution of TEx Ventures.
Three years ago, I organized a business forum for the Tamil community here in North America. It was an eye opener for me as someone who had given up on their own entrepreneurial pursuit because they weren’t sure if they could make it work as a young Tamil women during the height of the dot.com era in the tech industry. Had I met individuals such as Ratheesan Yoganathan who built a telecom company from scratch with his partners; or Jay Vijayan, who left a stable job at VMware to join Elon Musk’s team at Tesla; Poornima Vijayashanker who defied stereotypes and was a founding engineering at Mint.com; or Dr. Siva Sivananthan, named the “White House Champion of Change” for his technology that serves as platform for ground-breaking, next generation solar cells, things might have been different. Perhaps, had I known about such individuals then, I may not have given up on my own dream of building an e-commerce platform. Thus, began my journey with TEx Ventures.
The following year, my friend Anusha Srijeyananthan and I pitched to a group of like-minded individuals (Thillai Kumaran, Parthi Paramsothy, Dr. Chock Karuppaiah and Lena Kanappan) in Silicon Valley, through the supportive nudge of Jay Vijayan. Our vision was to build a global platform that would allow Tamil entrepreneurs to learn, support and guide one another. A pay it forward vision, where established entrepreneurs and industry professionals would help those starting out. This was based loosely on the model that has been successfully deployed by the Israeli community in building their own startup nation – a model that another advisor, Ratheesan Yoganathan, led me to.
That pitch helped launch a cross-border collaboration that enables us to leverage the network and growing successes within the Tamil community to help others. Many of us in the South Asian community are familiar with the crab basket mentality, and here was a chance to do away with that stereotype and help entrepreneurs rise above the froth. For when one of us succeeds, it helps nurture growth in others.
I am grateful for the chance to make this vision a reality and to the team that helped build the initial framework and soft launch it at a gathering of Tamil entrepreneurs in San Jose in 2015 – Anusha Srijeyanathan, Hari Subramaniam and another friend who chose to remain anonymous but whose knowledge on fund management was extremely helpful. Now to the team that is working to move this forward – Chock, Thillai and Parthi, whose dedication to social innovation and support of inspiring women entrepreneurs shows the possibilities that are out there.
Moving forward, I am excited about what we can do to help entrepreneurs excel. TEx Ventures will provide end-to-end support (mentoring, seed funding and advising on operations) to help take budding entrepreneurs to Series A level.
Since my initial start on this venture, what I am most grateful for is the fact that we are not alone. Many other organizations and individuals have also set out to help aspiring entrepreneurs and encourage innovative thinking within the Tamil community.
On October 29th, TEx Ventures will be launching Catalyst Series – a facilitated day to learn, network and exchange ideas with successful founders, innovators, and doers in Toronto. Join us, as we set down the path to inspire and create more entrepreneurs – you can register here.
By Sumi Shan, Co-Founder, TEx Ventures