(Top, background): An overview of attendees at the TiE Inflect 2018 technology conference at the Santa Clara Convention Center, May 4-5, in Santa Clara, Calif.
(Top row, l-r): Grand Keynote speakers: EVP and CFO of Visa, Vasant Prabhu; EVP and CFO of Levi’s, Harmit Singh; Code.org CEO, Hadi Partovi; and CFO of Tesla, Deepak Ahuja; Brocade Co-founder Kumar Malavalli speaks while handing the Lifetime Achievement Award to Ram Shriram, (r), at TiE Banquet.
(Bottom row, l-r): TiE President – Elect B.J. Arun, TiE President Ram Reddy, TiE Inflect Convener R. Paul Singh; Sudesh Bhosle performs at TiE Banquet; TiE50 Award Recipient showcasing her product; Siliconeer Youth Editor Vansh A. Gupta in Youth Track: Leaders of Tomorrow; Young entrepreneur Janam Gupta enjoying ice cream at TiE Inflect 2018 (Amar D. Gupta/Siliconeer)
(Bottom, background): Samba Dancers perform at the TiE banquet – Samba Conmigo (All Photos: Vansh A. Gupta/Siliconeer)

The sheer variety of subjects and ideas that were floating at TiE Inflect 2018 and how these young entrepreneurs were beating the odds to come out as a promising venture, is an inspiration in itself for the youth who are looking to start as entrepreneurs themselves. Welcome to Silicon Valley!

With record breaking registrations, tracks filled with enthusiastic audiences and well-versed speakers in today’s hottest tech topic, Artificial Intelligence, a happening expo, and an unforgettable banquet, TiE Inflect was an allusion for the proverb, ‘Work hard, then play hard,’ writes Vansh A. Gupta.

TiE Inflect had a strong concentration on Artificial Intelligence, the most relevant and hot topic in the tech world today. After all the CEO of Google, Sundar PIchai, claims, “AI is more profound to humanity than fire or electricity.” The TiE Inflect team believes, “Human imagination combined with artificial intelligence will drive innovation further and faster than ever before.” (TiEInflect.org)

Like every year, TiE Inflect has its expo and anyone familiar with my articles and TiEcon knows that the expo is like the introduction of the conference. It is the ideal platform to create new valuable connections. This time, we saw some unique faces at the Expo. Along with the maturing face of Siliconeer, there were companies like Capital One and ANA, local businesses like Chugh Firm and Deleon Realty, and many startups like Decizone and ClouDhiti. This time, everyone was focusing on digital marketing and AI.

Siliconeer Booth at TiE Inflect 2018 Expo (Amar D. Gupta/Siliconeer)

Along with the expo, there were a multitude of subjects being buzzed about in TiE Inflect this year. Most tracks had strong involvement of AI. Any track attended: MarTech, FinTech, HealthTech, Global Connect, IoT, Cybersecurity, Emerging Tech, DevOps; all of these tracks had numerous keynotes and talks on machine learning and AI, even though TiE already had a dedicated track just for AI. Along with the tech argot, there were other tracks like TiE Women and TiE Youth with uplifting and inspiring tracks. TiE Women and TiE Youth focused more on empowerment and the secrets for success.

Starting off the high-intensity dose of AI talk, the AI/Machine Learning track featured a talk on chat bots. Chat Bots are very mainstream in our daily life. If you speak with support, you are speaking with a chat bot. You want news messaged right to you, you can use a chat bot. The growing use of chat bots makes it evident that they are feasible, and the utilization of a chat bot is boundless. Capital One VP of Conversational AI products, Ken Doelin; Founder and CEO of Predictika Inc., Sanjay Mittal; Pryon CEO, Igor Jablokov; and UC Berkeley Director of Data Science, Thomas Lee came to TiE Inflect to talk more in-depth about these conversation agents.

To end day one of the conference, TiE Inflect team had stacked up two grand keynotes and an evening TiE 50 awards ceremony with a very lively band and basic small plates. The evening started with a keynote by Thomas Kurian, Oracle President of Product Development. Thomas spoke about Oracle’s feats in the cloud computing industry and then emphasizes on its concentration on small and medium enterprises. He described the role of AI in assisting Oracle with its projected plans and current projects.

Code.org CEO, Hadi Partovi, presents a Grand Keynote

The second grand keynote was more social-centric and youth-centric as the CEO of Code.org, Hadi Partovi, spoke about the mission of Code.org and the global issue it is trying to solve. He explains that students who don’t have the resources or haven’t been even introduced to Computer Science don’t have the motivation to do better and strive for success. He gave a case study about Code.org in action in Oakland, Calif. The students over there are amongst the most underprivileged groups in high school. Code.org introduced Computer Science and what they witnessed was truly spectacular. These students excelled in their AP Computer Science exams, did better in their math and science classes, and the graduation rates went up overall. It is very reassuring to see philanthropic entrepreneurs and an organization like Code.org prove that even entrepreneurs are giving to the community.

TiE President Ram Reddy at the TiE50 Award Session

The last segment of TiE Inflect that day, was its TiE 50 awards. Basically, startup teams from around the world compete in the TiE 50 awards. They pitch their idea and products. The company with the most potential and strong feasibility receives the TiE 50 award. Although most AI-based startups won this award, few of them were really unique like smart toys for dogs, a furry animal that is also a playful robot, drug-less ADHD treatment, and a “stalking” robot that follows your gestures all won the TiE 50 awards. The awards were followed by a band playing some all-time favorites and small plates.

TiE50 Award Recipients

Day two was packed with exciting keynotes, talks, and the TiE Banquet. The day started with a grand keynote featuring the CFO of Tesla, Deepak Ahuja; EVP and CFO of Levi’s, Harmit Singh; EVP and CFO of Visa, Vasant Prabhu; and Founder of Sand Hill Group, M.R. Rangaswami. These influential figures had shared their perspective on where the world is headed with Artificial Intelligence. Vasant Prabhu explains how AI is being integrated with Visa fraud detection. Deepak Ahuja explains AI’s role on autonomous vehicle technology. Harmit Singh explains that AI can help develop wearables with functions, never thought of before. They explain that Blockchain and IoT also play a huge role in these unimaginable technologies.

CEO and Co-Founder of Harness, Jyoti Bansal, presents a Grand Keynote

Following the keynote by three influential figures from world-renowned companies, was another grand keynote by the CEO and Co-founder of Harness, Jyoti Bansal. Jyoti Bansal founded AppDynamics in 2008 which was acquired last year by Cisco. Jyoti Bansal shares his story explaining the hardships of an immigrant trying to be an entrepreneur in America. He explains that he wasn’t able to own companies and worked at numerous startups because of his citizenship status in the U.S. As a citizen, I believe it is our responsibility to empower and encourage great minds regardless of their immigration status. Jyoti Bansal was dedicated and in the end it all worked out. He says if one thing could be improved, it would be to eliminate the unnecessary immigration challenges imposed on many just like him.

Throughout the second day, TiE Inflect team had many interesting tracks focusing on AI-based medical technology, the minds of the future, autonomous trucks, and the digital media evolution in India.

The afternoon started with the track “Would You Trust Your AI Doctor,” presented by Dr. Gauri Naik, Co-founder and CEO of Optra Health; Dr. Katherine Chou, Head of Product at Google Healthcare Research; Dr. Nitin Salunke, Global Vice President, Medtronic – Neurovascular; Dr. Noor Sachdev, Neurologist, Good Samaritan Hospital; and Aashima Gupta, Global Head of Healthcare Solutions, Google. The track had a very enticing title and sure enough the content lived up to its hype. The experts claim that the possibility of survival in a situation like a stroke can significantly increase with the use of Machine Learning and AI. They paint two scenarios: one with AI and one without AI. With an AI-based heart monitor, the machine will be able to predict and call for help right away vs. one experiencing excruciating pain and then trying to call the ambulance. Clearly AI wins here.

Another area where AI wins is autonomous vehicles. We know that level 5 autonomous vehicles are coming within this century. Tesla has already proved the feasibility of autonomous vehicles and big sharks like Mercedes, Audi, and Nissan have invested heavily on semi-autonomous vehicle technology and the results speak for themselves. So, what about trucks? Besides Tesla announcing autonomous trucks, there isn’t much more. Luckily, Peloton Tech Director of Advanced Development, Shad Laws, explains the idea of “truck platooning.” Peloton Tech created a system where trucks can communicate with each other and help increase efficiency, ease the driver, and decrease the risk of an accident. It is sort of like Mercedes’ new Car-To-X communication system.

Completing that “Trenta” cup of AI espresso, I finally saw a shift as the final two tracks talked about the youth and entertainment.


TiE Youth speakers Vansh Gupta and Apoorva Panidapu (Photo By Rajiv Patel)

TiE Youth gave us a taste of the future as we saw the creative young minds in action. The Youth track showcases what the future holds for us as speakers from the age of 12 to the age of 32. The best part was all these speakers had something very unique to share. To start with, the most experienced and “senior” speaker was CEO & Co-founder of Sapien Network, Ankit Bhatia. He had very valuable wisdom to share with the youth about what he has learned as a CEO and Co-founder of a company. Others included many high schoolers with their own non-profits like Sanil Chawla with Hack+. Others included competition winners like Anya Shrivastava, founder of CropDrop, and the team of DigEthnic: Vansh A. Gupta and Nihal Deopura. The one to steal the show however was the young and talented Apoorva Panidapu along with Miss San Jose 2018, Jacqueline Wibowo. At the age of 12, Apoorva is named the “Human Calculator” in the NBC show, “Genius Junior.” Apoorva loves to showcase her art on www.apoorvaartgallery.com and all proceedings from the art goes directly into her charity, “Help Starving African Children.”

Another topic deviating from AI was the fireside chat presented by Shemaroo CEO, Hiren Gada, and Founder and CEO of INK, Lakshmi Pratury. Hiren Gada explains that with many new digital avenues like Hotstar and Netflix, there is a huge boom in digital media distribution. He says that India has a huge market for digital movies and avenues such as Hotstar cater to them.

TiE Content Chair Rajiv Patel (c) and TiE Inflect Convener R. Paul Singh (r) at TiE Banquet dance at mesmerizing music by Sudesh Bhosle (center on stage).

As TiE Inflect came to an end, the party surely didn’t end. This year the TiE Banquet featured ‘bindaas’ entertainment, delectable food, and an environment where everyone was in the mood for “Party all night.” The night starts off by the announcement of the President-elect for TiE Silicon Valley. The President-elect is B.J. Arun who is currently a board member of TiE and is the CEO of July Systems. The evening continued with a ‘lifetime achievement’  award to Ram Shriram, and an ‘entrepreneur of the year’ award to Jay Chaudhry, handed out by TiE to distinguished members. Followed by a lively Samba dance performed by Samba Conmigo. Erin Gavin made a special appearance to this year’s banquet. Finally, the banquet hall was rocked by golden-age performer and singer Sudesh Bhosle and Sadhana Sargam performing all-time greatest hits like “Jumma Chumma De De” to “Saat Samundar Paar.”

With TiE Inflect being a huge hit this year, we can’t wait to see the Inflect team back next year for an action-packed conference. TiE President Ram Reddy claims, “The crux of the conference is the content. The session topics, impact of AI on trending tech, brought to the audiences brimming at 5,000. The amazing domain expert speakers who brought real world knowledge and experiences to TiE Inflect is what made the conference so special.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. See you next year at Inflect 2019.

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