Background

2001 was an eventful year. The dotcom bubble finally burst and 9/11 shook the world. The spectre of conflict and the end of the dotcom dream run shook up entrepreneurs, venture funds and governments. It was against this backdrop that 38 entrepreneur alumni of IIT Bombay got together to take stock of their own lives and ventures. They spent 15 days debating and arguing - differing on most issues - but unanimously agreeing on two. One was that the internet and technology was not dead and would only grow in impact and strength. The second was that IIT alumni were uniquely placed to benefit from this.

The third thing hesitantly agreed upon was that the next 20 years would do to India, what the last 20 had done to China. The centre of the world was moving and telecom was leveling communities. India could only go up and there was no visible ceiling. It thus made sense to help revitalize businesses in India and generate a high risk adjusted return on a small pool of capital. But given the small size of the group - two things had to be done: The number of IIT Alumni involved needed to be increased to access a larger pool of capital and expertise. And an engagement format was needed where each of the leaders could maximize impact by reaching out and partnering a large number of entrepreneurs.

Finally three institutions were created - the PanIIT organisation, the Indus Entrepreneurs (or TIE for which credit must go to the US based alumni and which expanded the footprint to South Asia) and Cheekotel Venture Fund - India's first venture capital company.