#xtalk - a learning experience
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:
- Structuring Your Company
- 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.