Lokvani Talks To Nilanjana Bhowmik
Nilanjana Bhowmik is the first woman President of TiE-Boston. She served as a Charter Member of this organization and was on its board for two years and follows Praveen Tailam as the President.
She is a partner at Longworth Venture Parters. Nilanjana joined Longworth in 2003 and focuses on infrastructure, software and mobile investments. She currently serves on the boards of Jibe (SaaS & mobile recruiting platform); NuoDB (elastic cloud database), PLUMgrid (network virtualization), RapidMiner (predictive analytics), Swirl (mobile Ad Exchange) and TrackVia (SaaS app platform). Her prior investments and portfolio involvements include Viewfinity (acquired by CyberArk, NASDAQ: CYBR), Symform (acquired by Quantum, NASDAQ: QTM), VKernel (acquired by Quest, NASDAQ: QSFT), Tizor (acquired by Netezza/IBM, NYSE: IBM), Softricity (acquired by Microsoft, NYSE: MSFT) and Thor Technologies (acquired by Oracle, NYSE: ORCL).
Prior to joining Longworth, Nilanjana was a Vice President, Mergers & Acquisitions, at Broadview (now Jefferies), an investment banking firm where she led buy and sell side transactions for several hi-tech companies in software, services and digital media. Nilanjana began her career at Object Design Inc., an object-oriented database and B2B software vendor. At Object Design, she held several positions through the company's fast growth from a venture backed, Inc. #1 Private Company in 1994 to a successful IPO in 1996 and beyond, including running the professional services organization for the Americas, in which role she was in charge of delivering a third of the company's annual revenues.
She received a Bachelor in Engineering in Computer Science from the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, an MS in Computer Science from the University of South Carolina, and an MBA from INSEAD.
Congratulations on becoming the President of TIE-Boston. What motivated you to take on this role and what is your vision for this organization?
TiE Boston’s core mission is fostering entrepreneurship. We are at a unique moment where two major phenomenon are shaping the region: first, we are seeing an unprecedented level of startup activity, the highest it has ever been. Today, over a thousand companies receive seed funding each year in Boston and the northeastern corridor– a remarkable number and the same as in the valley! TiE Boston and its members, with our deep experience in building large successful companies can positively affect the outcomes of these startups through the many programs and mentorship events we run, and thereby help take the Boston tech ecosystem to new heights. Second, technology is no longer a standalone, narrow segment – it is unseating all industries and all sectors, from automotive, to healthcare, to CPG. And that’s resulting in an unprecedented cross pollination of ideas across expert functions. This is an exciting opportunity. In this phenomenon, I see the potential to take our learnings from building successful tech companies in the last 20 years, to collaborate with experts from other industries and tackle the many challenges that face us societally: be it revitalizing challenged neighborhoods, reducing the cost of healthcare, bringing a fresh lens on education, tackling the enormous ramifications of climate change, to name just a few. I believe our talented members are up for this challenge.
So, it’s an exciting time to take the helm of TiE Boston: celebrate what we have achieved in the last 20 years and set our sights on much bigger tasks.
What do you think have been the greatest accomplishments of this organization?
Certainly we are proud of the economic impact our members have made to the region by building signature companies like Starent, Netezza, Wayfair to name just a few; of the hundreds of entrepreneurs we have mentored; the successful startups that we coached; the jobs that were created and the shareholder value they generated. Our biggest accomplishment though is that we have thrived over a 20 year span and we have pulled off a multi-generation hand off. The organization was started by the generation of Desh, Samir, Ashraf. Today, our youngest members are 15. And guess what – we run programs where both are in the room sparring with each other on product design best practices! This is a remarkable feat and a sign that we are creating real value that attracts membership across generations– that can self-sustain and grow for a long time to come.
You are the first female President of TIE Boston. Do you have any special plans to improve support for female entrepreneurs?
Absolutely – it’s a priority. We want to reach gender parity at all levels- the Board, the member base, the events and programs we run. I believe this is the first crucial step. If our organization wants to help female entrepreneurs, we must not only talk the talk but walk the walk.
Any advice for female entrepreneurs?
It’s the same as for male entrepreneurs. Building a company is seldom a sprint, more often a marathon. You must have the mental and physical stamina, be prepared to run the course and adapt to the terrain. Regardless of the outcome, you will have come much further than when you started.
Any special message for Lokvani readers?
Become a TiE Boston member, attend our events, support our cause!
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