As the Indian stock markets reached lowest levels since 2005 and economies around the world were bracing themselves for the biggest financial crisis since 1929, TiEcon Delhi 2008 concluded on Friday with warning to the entrepreneurs: "Buckle up".
The economic gloom-and-doom was very much felt at the event and it was the topic of much discussion in all the panels.
This year's event was aptly themed as "Entrepreneurship Comes of Age", because in the current economic environment the entrepreneurs will have to display a lot of maturity to survive. Boys will be separated from men, as one of the speakers said.
Also some of the messages sent out by successful entrepreneurs were:
1. Diversify your revenue base in whatever space you are in. Deep Kalra of MakeMyTrip said that they have diversified from only airline ticketing to 12 lines of businesses now, which is helping them.
2. Keep your teams motivated and fill the gaps wherever needed. This is a good time to hire as people will be available especially in the IT sector.
3. Identify holes and shortcomings in services of your competitors and try to exploit them.
4. Have some extra cash in the bank as you don't know what is going to hit you from where.
5. Have a set of loyal customers who are there with you in tough times.
One of the first panels discussed the topic of exits for investors, which gave mixed conclusions. While one of the investors said that investing in a company and being with them is like a marriage and separation is hard, another said the terms and ways of exit are pre-decided and it's something companies have to adjust with.
One of the most keenly awaited panel discussion was real estate and infrastructure, in which every panelist agreed to the fact property prices were bound to fall and developers have overextended themselves.
Also some of the panelists said that if you are starting a business with real estate as a component, it's a good time to start. The investors are also likely to avoid this market in the short run.
Some of the TiEcon regulars said that this year's event was a little subdued, given the global economic meltdown. But the event had a something for every entrepreneur - entrepreneur looking for funding found investors, those not looking for investors found advice and mentoring, entrepreneurs with ideas found a place to pitch them and ones without ideas got them for free (National Innovation Foundation said they have 1 lakh innovations with them for entrepreneurs to exploit for a small royalty).