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All entrepreneurs read a lot and network a lot. We also know the value of picking someone else’s brains. Though I was part of the TiE Dubai members committee organising #xtalk, it was a massively educational and a successfully streamlined event (even if I do say so myself).

It was the brainchild of TiE Trustee, Prashant (PK) Gulati, based on the need of a more ‘participatory’ platform and the event morphed into what we called #xtalk (Crosstalk) doing exactly what the names suggest: cross talking in a discussion format. Though we had some massively well connected and experienced serial entrepreneurs who had “been there, done that”, along with entrepreneurs like me and wannabe entrepreneurs, the discussion flowed both ways.

The event focused on two key topics:

  1. Structuring Your Company
  2. Building Your Team

The first topic tackled questions and issues related to freezone vs offshore vs onshore structures, pros & cons, costs, best practices, preparation for formal fundraising, stock options, share classes, convertible notes, other agreements, liabilities, debt structuring etc. It wasn’t so much a Q&A with a panel rather than an exchange of ideas, suggestions and exploration of solutions to some of the common problems we face regularly and where there is not really one clear solution to all problems. It was very useful for me to understand from someone like the charter member from Clyde & Co on some of the legal issues regarding getting a freelance license and its pitfalls. We skirted around funding etc except where it touched the structure of the company but the team has promised a separate discussion on this probably at the next #xtalk scheduled around Ramadan probably after Iftar.

The second topic was a whole separate can of worms and mostly focused on finding the right founding partner, employees vs consultants, mentors vs advisors, etc and the value and roles of each one of these. We also talked about equity incentives to attract the right talent and its legal implications especially in Dubai.

I think the ‘panellists’ (for want of a better term) learnt as much as we did as the audience. I know it certainly opened my eyes regarding jurisdiction etc.  The atmosphere was very relaxed and conducive to an informal discussion. I seriously encourage entrepreneurs to make the effort to join the next one. In the meanwhile, if there is a casual venue that anyone can offer (remember TiE is non-profit) – then please feel free to contact them.

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#xtalk - a learning experience for entrepreneurs courtesy of TiE Dubai All entrepreneurs read a lot and network a lot. We also know the value of picking someone else’s brains.

My Real Life Hero - my cousin Sujoy Das (on his way to Annapurna Base Camp)


Sujoy is one of my younger cousins (though none of us are that young any more). His mum and my dad are first cousins. Growing up, we lived too far away to really know him but one of the marvellous things about reconnecting with your cousins as adults is that you discover how much you have in common and what wonderful people they have become.

Sujoy has always been obsessed with mountains (as far…

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The 1-min chocolate cake

Sorry about the headline but its apt. And every time I think dinnertime – that jingles in my head. Okay, enough.

I hate going to supermarkets. I do this weekly (given my hectic work schedule). Even though I make a list (most times), I always end up with more than I need. When it comes to the fruit and veggies side, I usually shop with some menu in mind (has to be simple) and more often than not –…

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My real life hero: Karla Castle (my vicarious tour guide) @kangayayaroo

Karla Castle

When you first meet her, she seems unassuming and quiet. Don’t let that fool you. This lady has a brilliant mind, fabulous sense of humour and a thirst for the quirky and the unusual. Not surprising that she is married to Paul and that they travel and discover together. She documents all their adventures on her blog, whether that be food, places around the UAE (Fujairah these days), or on their…

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Yojit is regaling every one with his stories at the farm visit – Read on Path.

Service is a bit slow - the tea better be worth it – at Paul Cafe – See on Path.

I plan to do a more detailed post but here are some photographs from the event I attended at the Top Chef Cooking Studio. There were a lot of enthusiastic foodies following Chef Kanika’s lead in cooking some of the most popular DinnerTime recipes. The food that was cooked by all the home cooks that turned up (I opted to watch) included Sticky Spiced Chicken Wings with Stir Fried Green Beans in Soy-Peanut Dressing; Thai Herb Fried Rice and Squash and Cherry Tomato Crumble with Winter Leaf, Apple and Pomegranate Salad. To finish off, we had a 1-Minute Chocolate Cake (sugar Free, gluten Free, dairy Free and guilt free). The chicken was finger-licking good and not sure they should have told me about the 1-min cake because now I need to find the recipe to make it.

It is an interesting concept but what interested me is the support they give to local growers and businesses and keeping it sustainable and healthy. At the event, we tried mozzarella cheese amongst others. Not normally my favourite cheese but this one was soft and creamy and some of the oils added great flavour. Gluten free bread and cup cakes were also served. If they had not told me it was gluten free, I would not have known the difference.

I have ordered the standard box for two for next week and looking forward to not only saving myself a trip to the supermarket but not having to come up with recipe ideas since they come with the box of ingredients.

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Dinner Time I plan to do a more detailed post but here are some photographs from the event I attended at the Top Chef Cooking Studio.

My Real Life Hero: Masarat Daud

Masarat Daud

Masarat DaudI have been pretty good about posting one of these every two weeks. I wanted to do Masarat this week because she is speaking at TED (March 15 – 28) on Thursday, March 20, 2014, 5:00pm-6:45pm PST.

When I first met Masarat, I was told (by Masarat) that I judged by what I saw. In fairness (to me), we did not have any interaction. She joined my place of work just as I was leaving to set up my own…

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As a child growing up, we had a healthy appetite for veggies. As a matter of fact, my mom grew them and made sure that one day a week we were totally veg. But when it comes to biryanis, not sure about vegetable biryanis. Until last night. To me, a biryani that has no meat is not really a biryani, more a pilau or whatever you call it. Then Chirag sent me this invitation for a Vegetarian Biryani festival at Cream Centre. I am always open to food bribery.

So I went. And they kept their promise of multiple-Indianised options. The twitter conversation was scintillating. But the food matched the hyperbole.

We had to start with their well-known Chole Bhature. I had never seen a bhatura that size before. It was huge, light and delicious as was the chole – though I snuck a bite from Jasmine‘s pre-order since we were the first ones there. It was nice to see her after a very long time as it was to see Mishti, Chirag and Gaganjeet.

There was a whole feast to follow. Nilesh from the restaurant took very good care of us. We had a stream of starters that were a mix of traditional Indian (sev puri), Ragda Patties, Paneer kebabs, etc to some Indian adaptations like the corn cheese pakoras, pizza slices, and then came the biryanis. We had four to taste – I can only remember the names of the three I tried: Teekha paneer biryani (Paneer in a red slightly hot, tomato-ey spicing), Hariyali paneer biryani (as the name suggest the spice was coriander based and hence the green colour) and Hyderabadi subz biryani which as the name suggests had a mix of vegetables and not a paneer in sight. We finished with two desserts – a chocolate brownie sizzler and a rabdi sizzler which was my personal favourite because it came with Gulab Jamun.

My favourite biryani has to be toss up between the first two and I will go back to this place.  The portion sizes were generous and the food was delicious. The staff were friendly and knowledgable. Would’ve been nice for someone to have explained each dish a bit but overall the ambience and place was quite pleasant. not sure about the taste in music though. But hey – can’t have everything.

There is such a thing as a Veg Biryani #creamcentre As a child growing up, we had a healthy appetite for veggies. As a matter of fact, my mom grew them and made sure that one day a week we were totally veg.

Clever idea from Media One #CSR

Media One sent me a release on this new CSR move and I hope its a great success. It taps into the frenzy we have with sharing our food photos (I am as bad as anyone else) but using this to help a very good cause.

According to their press release, Media One is the first venue in the UAE to have partnered with Feedie to turn all Dubai Foodies into Feedies; and it does not cost an extra fil to the…

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