Dr Eisa M. Bastaki makes a speech during the Speed Mentoring with Venture Capitalists session at the BITS Alumni Association Global Meet. Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News

Dubai: More than 500 alumni of the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani, from around the world converged in Dubai on Friday to exchange ideas, industry best practices and even mentor and connect students with venture capitalists.

The BITS Alumni Association Global Meet (BGM), which will conclude on Saturday, is being held in Dubai for the first time with the theme “Innovation, Inspiration, and Industry”.

Indian Consul-General Anurag Bhushan lauded the organisers for coming up with a purposeful alumni meet and for holding it in Dubai.

Bhushan said the theme is appropriately held in a country that “has developed so fast, so fabulously in one generation”.

M.P. Sharma, chairman of the BGM Organising Committee and chairman and president of Techmart, said the event’s highlight was the exclusive Speed Mentoring with Venture Capitalists session where students with great ideas for a start-up venture were mentored by investors and entrepreneurs.

Some 14 students, 11 of whom were flown in from India all-expenses paid, got a chance to pitch their ideas, hone them and see their potential in the future.

“You have to give them more than just education and that’s where the whole world is headed,” he said.

Dr Eesa Al Bastaki, University of Dubai president and speaker at the event, said the session resonates with the Dubai government’s Future Accelerators programme that is now creating the culture of venture capitalism in the emirate.

“It will benefit society because we are looking at a [post-oil economy] where we have to still be sustainable. We have to create our own knowledge, find incubators, incubate ideas and help people become entrepreneurs,” Al Bastaki said.

Best tip for start-ups

It’s not just having venture capitalists on board that’s important, Samay Kohli, group CEO of Singapore-based Grey Orange and a speed mentor at the event, said. The focus should be more on the strength and motivation of the individuals who have the idea.

“It’s a really tough journey to start up. Today’s generation has come to, which is also natural, ‘It doesn’t matter what it is, we have to start up’. That’s also wrong,” Kohli said.

“So the best tip that I like giving is a little controversial: Don’t just start up,” he said, adding: “Have a good co-founder. Have the mindset or the will to be pivoted two, three times within the first year. For us back then, it had nothing to do with having a really “cool idea”. It was really the pain (motivation) that we wanted to build our own company.”