Insights from the Dell Womens Entrepreneur global conference in India

I am in New Delhi, India with 149 other women entrepreneurs from eleven countries in Delhi for the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) global conference and the message I am getting loud and clear, is extend your networks and spheres of influence, think big and good news (!), funding IS available if you have a good business pitch.

While being reminded of the basics this week, I’ve heard from global entrepreneurs and seen dynamic network building in action. Yesterday, on the main day of the conference, our collective 3000+ tweets from approximately a hundred women using the hash tag #DWEN reached a combined global network of over 16.6 million. Go girl power!

While the DWEN mission is to find ways to access capital, discuss new business, social improvement initiatives and provide a resource for women – the main aim of course is to ensure the ICT brand is in front of female decision makers.  Dell is the story of Michael Dell and we heard this last 48 hours of the companies shift to full solutions provider from hardware seller.

It’s an inspiring story. Staff tenure is way above industry benchmarks, the Dell global CIO is a woman, and the company has a good gender diversity ratio. Earlier this month Dell also committed a $100 million fund to help entrepreneurs and start-ups.

The experience has been a good one, topped by the magnificence of the new Leela Palace hotel in the diplomatic sector of New Delhi and a sunrise visit to the Taj Mahal. The conference has included lectures, workshops, giveaways, events and a chance to meet other women from all sorts of backgrounds, businesses and cultures.

One revelation is the story of the Leela Palace hotel, named after a Grandmother – a new family owned chain in India who are re-writing and raising the standards and expectations of world class hotels. I strongly recommend it. Three female family members, all senior managers presented their story yesterday. Great example of the next generation of successful Indian women being backed by senior men.  And lets face it, holding a conference in India is a fraction of the price in Australia or Asia.

Topics have included

• The process of ‘paying it forward’, or helping people who then do (‘pay’) that good deed forward to someone else (based on the book ‘Pay it forward’)

• Put in a good support structure to help you – you soon find out who your friends are

• Get the right people around you with the same core value set

• Work on a channel strategy so you partner with people/companies who can extend the spheres of influence of your brand

• Embrace social media tools and have formal, practical plans for each platform – approach social media like traditional marketing tools – then use them differently

• Business start-ups now should be considering Cloud-based technology

• In Europe finance is coming from Government funds and family foundations as VC money is 40% down

• New VC funds are springing up to fund businesses – in the light of the banks cutting back investment funding

• Running a business is hard – but it can and does come good. If you are in two minds, don’t be afraid to quit and start again

• Failure is the first step to success – if you are only succeeding you are not taking enough risk

India fast facts

• India is one of the world’s fastest growing countries with lots of opportunity if you want to do business here

• A staggering 1 million young people will enter the workforce every month in India for the next 20 years

• India is attractive for business because of the extraordinary service culture, cheap labour, energetic in its growth and consumer expectations are low, so you have an opportunity to trail blaze and push the standards higher

• Pick any sector and segment here and you can start building a business

• Consumers have lots of things yet to experience

• On the flip side it is an unpredictable environment with much bureaucracy

• 400 million above the poverty line, 500 million below the poverty line

• India’s middle class is sitting at approx 150 million – the Indian luxury goods market will grow by 25%  a year

• India has twice the population of UK, Germany and France combined

My two favourite quotes from the conference – ‘’hire people half your age and twice as smart’’ and ‘’Stand for something or fall for everything’’

Good to take time out and a step back, particularly Indian style!

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