ISW PEN - PROFESSIONAL & ENTREPRENEURIAL NETWORK
ISW Professional and Entrepreneurial Network is a forum based in MetroWest Boston for likeminded professionals and entrepreneurs to network, exchange ideas and learn from other's experience. The ISW India Center, at 152 Main St Shrewsbury, serves as a hub for a variety of activities and programs that encourage professional growth and entrepreneurial activities. Some of the activities include:
Impact stories and 3rd pitch contestant testimonial
Starting a business anywhere is undoubtedly challenging, and doing so in a new country as an immigrant adds an extra layer of complexity. Having a network like ABTM can provide the support and guidance needed to navigate these hurdles more effectively.
Simply put ABTM is a family with whom you can learn, share pains and challenges, and find solutions together. It's like finding my tribe. Elders aka well-seasoned entrepreneurs, professors, and business leaders can guide you to the next right step and or introduce you to others who can guide you to the next best move. You can be as involved as you like to be, just attending a traditional ABTM program or you can even join ABTM Mentorship Program 2.0 where you continue building relationships with your mentors and select new mentors who are more relevant to your current situation and challenges. It's an honor and joy to be part of ABTM.
Ms. Hla Hla Win, 360ed Tech Corp. (pitch contest winner, 3rd cohort)
Once I made the life-changing decision to join the ABTM my entrepreneurial journey took an extraordinary turn. ABTM's focus on uncovering the true purpose behind my venture ignited a fire within me, driving my passion to new heights. What made the experience truly exceptional was the intimate setting that fostered deep connections with fellow small business owners. In this tight-knit community, I found unwavering support, never feeling alone in the challenges I faced. The incredible individuals leading the program were not just experts in their fields; they genuinely cared about my personal growth and success. ABTM guided me through every aspect of running a business, from the very inception to planning a thoughtful exit strategy, empowering me to realize my dreams with confidence and determination.
Ms. Thuy Leung, Eye Lush Salon (1st cohort)
Summary of past events
April 8, 2023
Open Networking Event
by Ragoo Raghunathan
This month's PEN event - 'Open Networking - Inspire and be Inspired' was a great success if you ask me. We had over 40 registrations and most of them attended the event, given that it was the Easter weekend and many had plans that were not on their minds when they registered for the event. In any case we had a great turn out. This time the event was based around getting to know the fellow attendees, their profession, interests and hobbies - all in the efforts to make a stronger membership and more wholesome ISW-PEN initiative.
We started off with introductions of the newly recruited committee members - Resmi Nair, Milind Kanitkar and Tejas Shah. While Kelly and I co-hosted the event as co-chairs we welcomed at least 8 new faces in the audience. These were people who had heard about our initiative through their friends and other networks, and were attending for the first time. The goal of this event was also to collect ideas on what sorts of events we could hold in the upcoming months, and which area each one of the attendees would be comfortable contributing in. We had 2 white board full of ideas and we are organizing them in sub groups. You will all hear more about this in the upcoming newsletter write-ups. The event ended with some creative, out-of-the box card stacking and tower building skills from the audience - which turned out to be a fantastic team building activity and brought out some laughs and arguments justifying their creations.
Overall, it was an enjoyable morning over the yummy samosas and chai while the audience got to socialize before and after the event.
March 11, 2023
Real Estate Investing Part 2 - Deep Dive into multi-family ownership & Passive investing
Due to the extreme interest in the first session on Real Estate Investing, ISW PEN hosted a follow up session with invited speaker, Raj Tekchandani, who shared his journey from a passive investor in a single condo to his current role as a managing principal of Smart Capital, a real estate investment firm that has invested in several thousand apartments. He highlighted some of the do’s and don’ts of real estate investing and how through syndication, smaller investors might be able to participate in larger scale investments. He outlined the role of limited and general partners in a syndicate and the risks and benefits of setting up such a structure. The session was interspersed with several many engaging questions which were all patiently answered. The session proved to be a great follow up to the introductory session in January as evidenced by the strong turnout at the meeting. If you missed it you can watch the event video on Facebook.
January 16, 2023
Real Estate Investing 101 - Why and How?
A packed room listened to a very informative panel discussion skillfully moderated by Arathi Cowlagi that got into the nuances of selecting and managing real estate, from condos to commercial properties. The panel consisted of Kelly Mittal and Jaime Patel, investors with a range of dispersed geographic investments, and Karen Landry, a Realtor with deep experience helping her customers navigate the intricacies of investment real estate. The audience peppered the panel with questions expressing their great interest in the topic. The ISW PEN initiative launched a WhatsApp group to bring together attendees beyond the monthly meetings. You can join the WhatsApp group by clicking here. The session is also available on ISW's Facebook page.
October 15, 2022
Inpowering Leadership Workshop by Vijay Jayachandran
Together with the IIT AGNE alumni group, ISW PEN hosted a workshop on "Inpowering Leadership" led by Vijay Jayachandran. A former senior executive at United Technologies, Vijay described the four tenets of his Inpowering Leadership framework, moving with purpose, speed and accuracy and developing resiliency in your organization. He provided tools for reflection on each of these tenets that would allow the participants to build their own leadership pathway. Click here to view the video introduction to the workshop.
August 13, 2022
Starting a Business
The summer session of ISW PEN focused on Starting a Business with two women founders and CEOs of their companies sharing their entrepreneurial journey ably moderated by ISW PEN Co-chair, Ragoo Raghunathan. Jayanthi Narasimhan, Founder & CEO WatchRx, Inc. spoke of her journey from idea to implementation for a unique watch-based health monitoring system for senior care. She initially invested her own money and from friends and family and also availed of winnings from competitive pitches including one with Google. Her experience in four accelerators including JPMorgan Chase, one in Rhode Island, TIE Boston and Babson helped hone her elevator pitch, made connections and introductions to investors. She emphasized how important it was to have a working prototype and initial customer traction. There is opportunity for non-dilutive funding (i.e. you don’t give up shares) from SBIR and NSF sources for innovative ideas but it requires work in putting together a proposal that fits their criteria. SBIR grants are good for health care startups that can partner with institutions that have expertise to conduct studies.
Gauri Bhalakia, President, ARCpoint Labs of Southboro and Worcester, had a different but no less innovative journey. After starting a business sourcing and distributing Indian language books from her home, she was looking for a more business to business idea and turned to franchising. With the help of a franchise consultant, she narrowed her choices down to one that was a service business providing testing services to institutions that required regular staff monitoring, like transit systems. The franchise model helped her get started quickly as the franchise had done its homework and had a ready template to follow. The service provides collection services to many businesses and the franchise manages relations with many testing labs that do the actual testing. The SBA in Massachusetts was very helpful by providing support in getting a SBA loan to get started. She also got referrals to CPAs, business lawyers thru them and later participated in an SBA sponsored Interise training “Streetwise MBA”. The cohort of CEOs in that program became a sounding board for her and she meets regularly with them to discuss their mutual business challenges. A key turning point was getting certified as a Woman and Minority owned Small business which helped open the doors to federal institutions that were required to set aside a proportion of contracts for minority and women owned businesses.
The two entrepreneurs shared many personal incidents and suggestions with the audience in response to their questions. They closed out with advice to future entrepreneurs to have Patience, Perseverance, Partnership, Planning and Paisa. You can watch portions of the panel discussion on ISW Facebook.
June 11, 2022
Estate Planning in India
A panel consisting of Ramesh Advani, Navinkumar Loganathan and Raj Melville, shared their personal experiences with wills and real estate transfers for properties and estates in India with a packed hall. The event is on the ISW Facebook page for those who were unable to attend.
April 30, 2022
ISW PEN & ISW WEW Joint Event
Nuts and Bolts of Starting a Business
This was a special event as the two initiatives (PEN & WEW) co-hosted a session on the “Nuts and Bolts of Starting a Business” on April 30th at the India Center. It was exciting to hear three strong independent women and one passionate gentleman talk about how they got started and the challenges they faced in their journey to get their venture up and running. While one of them co-founded her business with her 12-yr old daughter, another found ways of converting his passion of photographing his twin boys into a dedicated profession.
The room was packed with over 25 people and many tuning in to the Facebook Live stream as Kelly moderated the panel after Snehal and Ragoo introduced the program. Check out more details on the speakers and a link to the live stream on ISW Facebook.
April 9, 2022
Estate Planning Demystified!
This month’s ISW-PEN session was a very interesting and popular topic - Estate Planning Demystified! It gave an opportunity for the attendees to learn from experts on how to protect your assets while providing for your loved ones! A terrific panel provided advice on:
Tom Flannagan, Estate Planning and Probate administration and Kanan Sachdeva, Financial Advisor from Northwestern Mutual, engaged a very eager audience discussing and clarifying doubts. Event with the event drawing to a close, the questions kept on coming. Many stayed on afterwards to discuss with the speakers, network among themselves and to partake of a lunch that was provided. With the interest in this topic and several unanswered questions lingering, ISW PEN will plan on holding another session on this subject in the future. The event was broadcast on Facebook Live and is available for those who could not attend on the ISW Facebook page. We thank the speakers and look forward to having them again sometime soon.
March 12, 2022
Getting Past the Gatekeeper! – An ISW PEN Resume ClinicA stellar panel of senior hiring managers consisting of Girish Bettadpur, General Manager, Amazon Web Services, Event Management services; Rob Studivan, Corporate Recruiter, eClinicalWorks; Puneet Kohli, V.P. Engineering, Rocket Software; and Nitin Kohli, Vice President, Salesforce was ably moderated by Navinkumar Loganathan, Business Intelligence Data Architect at Boston Consulting Group. The panel addressed several questions regarding the hiring process and resume presentation and shared anecdotes. The interaction was recorded on Facebook and can be viewed here.
February 16, 2022
OurCrowd – A Hybrid Venture Capital and Crowd Investing Model
ISW Professional & Entrepreneurial Network (ISW PEN) held an online webinar presented by OurCrowd, an online hybrid Venture Capital and Crowd Investing platform that was moderated by Rajesh Kasbekar, Global Vice President of Regulatory, Quality Systems and Clinical Affairs, Kaz USA. Over 20 people got a quick introduction on how Venture Capital works and a deeper dive into the OurCrowd platform. Based in Israel, a hotbed of tech innovation, the company has expanded to the US and provides access to pre-IPO startups as part of early stage funding. Their unique model allows accredited investors to co-invest directly in companies or as part of a fund. Startups that would like to avail of this platform can upload their info on their website and will be reviewed by their investment team. If you missed it, you can hear the discussion on the ISW Facebook page.
December 18, 2021
Launching your own small business – Journey from basement to market
ISW Professional and Entrepreneurial Network (PEN) held one of its most popular events on Saturday, December 18th. The topic was “Launching your own small business – Journey from basement to market” moderated by Kelly Mittal, co-chair of the ISW PEN initiative. The room had a very participative and captive audience as Margie introduced EforAll - a non-profit organization that enables underrepresented individuals successfully start their own businesses - as exemplified by two graduates of the program on the panel, Charles Luster founder of 2GetherWeEat and Pooja and Vishal Suchde, founders of Namaste Woo at the Worcester Public Market and Urban Spice World.
Their journeys were very inspiring and quite revealing of the commitments that one must make in order to start and get a business off the ground in this competitive market. Check out the live video streamed on our FB site here.
October 9, 2021
Job Search Strategies
The ISW-PEN initiative held its fifth consecutive monthly event on October 9th at the India Center. As always, a good crowd of curious attendees interacted with the speakers about various strategies for job searching during these tough times. The panel consisted of experienced professionals including Vinay Vyas, Shaikh Hoque and Dr. Rangaprasad Sarangarajan who presented an overall 360 degree perspective from the recruiter, the hiring manager and the jobseeker’s points of view.
Topics discussed included the importance of an updated and strategic resume, how to avoid the resume blackhole, how to get the attention of a hiring manager, and how to prepare yourself mentally before you start your job search. The many questions asked and answered hopefully enabled some of our community with tools for their professional journey.
Please join us at upcoming ISW PEN events held at 11 am on every second Saturday at the India Center. Due to the many Diwali celebrations at the center, the November event is cancelled. Please feel free to suggest topics you would like discussed or potential for speakers for upcoming events. Contact us at PEN@iswonline.org
September 11, 2021
Planning for your financial future
A rapt audience was engaged in conversation with an expert panel of financial advisors consisting of Kanan Sachdeva, Sharat Amin and Kartik Trivedi. The discussion ran for an hour and thirty minutes and covered a range of topics to help people develop a financial strategy.
"The meetup was a great opportunity for the community to be educated on financial matters," said Sankaran Natarajan who moderated the panel. The participants had an interactive session with the panelists and the first session covered general topics like types of insurance and its benefits. The ISW-PEN team is planning more such discussions to educate its members on other financial instruments to invest for their future. These sessions will greatly benefit our community to navigate the various investment opportunities available in establishing their financial stability. We plan to cover more such topics in the upcoming sessions of the ISW-PEN initiative.
August 14, 2021
Is Business Ownership an option for you?
A interested group of attendees held an interactive discussion session with speakers Suzanne Gray and Peter Berson describing the Why, When and What of Business Ownership.
July 10, 2021
Elevator Pitch Workshop
The ISW PEN July Meetup was a great success with 25+ attendees who heard serial entrepreneur Venkat Kolluri, founder Chitika and Cidewalk, speak of his entrepreneurial journey and the importance of marketing. Kelly Mittal, Founder & CEO, MyKidzDay moderated the session. Abhas Jain, Principal, MyKidzDay led the audience on a Elevator Pitch workshop on refining their business pitch.
Agenda for meeting was:
June 12, 2021
Inaugural PEN Meeting
The first meetup of the ISW Professional and Entrepreneurial Networking (PEN) initiative was held at the newly renovated India Center on Saturday, June 12th, 2021 at 11 am. Over 20 attendees from Shrewsbury, Northboro, Southboro, Westboro, Grafton and Worcester attended the nearly two hour meeting. The attendees were accomplished professionals from diverse fields such as Computer Science, Information Technology, STEM, Medicine, Education as well as small business owners. They shared their backgrounds and how they could contribute to the community.