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Greenville Business Magazine

Greenville Entrepreneur Reflects on GES

Dec 26, 2017 11:18AM ● By Kathleen Maris

Srikanth Kodeboyina (third from left) is pictured inviting representatives of T Hub, an incubator for startups in Hyderabad, India, to visit South Carolina.

By Srikanth Kodeboyina

A few weeks ago, I was privileged and honored to attend Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2017 held at Hyderabad, India. It was an enriching experience.

A few years ago, like most other student immigrants, with two bags, lot of dreams, and a few hundred dollars, I flew from Hyderabad International Airport to pursue my Master’s Degree on a student visa in the U.S. Flying back to the same airport as a U.S. delegate was an amazing moment in my life.

The summit had 1,500 participants from 150 countries and was co-hosted by the U.S. and Indian governments. GES was started in 2010 by then-President Barack Obama to foster innovation in the U.S. and abroad. This was its eighth year, following successful summits in places like Stanford University, Nairobi, Dubai, and Morocco.

Life is very short; in my day-to-day activities, I always look for the purpose and impact of every action. I wholeheartedly wanted to make the trip more fruitful and productive and results-oriented. For every trip I take, I have a habit of carrying gifts to those near and dear to me; this time, I wanted to really do something more meaningful at a larger scale to all my fellow citizens and did not want to go empty-handed.

I coordinated with Upstate SC Alliance, the S.C. Governor’s office, the S.C. Dept. of Commerce, and Clemson University and sent letters and invitations to the chief ministers and IT ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, T–Hub, APNRT, and ISB (Indian School of Business).

We received a very positive response and anticipate that representatives of the State of Andhra Pradesh and the State of Telangana in India will head for a diplomatic visit to S.C. during 2018.

With help of APNRT, I was able to organize a pre-GES event on Nov 27. We had around 30 entrepreneurs and investors attend this daylong event. About 160 delegates showed interest, but we were able to accommodate only a small amount (for which I truly felt bad). All the delegates had presented there ask and offer to Local state government. Hearing the stories of other delegates made the event more productive.

Later that day, we had a keynote speech and opening ceremony from Ivanka Trump, special advisor to the U.S. President, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi talking about the importance of entrepreneurship, women in business, and relations between India and the U.S.

In her speech, Ivanka Trump complimented Reyhan Camalova from Azerbaijan, CEO of Rainergy and the youngest participant at 15 years old, and Raji Borthakur from India, CEO of TerraBlue XT, for their accomplishments, impact, and inspiration. As South Carolina State board member of education and economic development, I personally wanted the brightest to be supported; hence, I decided to invest in both of them and wanted them to collaborate, utilize our S.C. resources (Clemson, GADC, NEXT, Upstate SC Alliance), and expand their impact to mankind.

We [Reinvest Global Team] aim for Camalova, who dreams of receiving the Nobel prize is astrophysics, to attend Clemson for further education so she can develop her product while studying. We aim for Borthakur to conduct her research with the support and collaboration of Clemson and USC.

We also had two other MBEs  (Minority Business Enterprises) from South Carolina that attended the event: Eric Whiteside of E-Vision Project Development Corp in Spartanburg, S.C. and Satish Cherkumalli, CEO of Track IT in Columbia, S.C.

While attending GES, I felt there was a strong need of organization that will connect the dots. All the institutions performed well, but the bond, collaboration, and mutual coordination is yet to be formed. Because of this, I started a nonprofit origination called Reinvest Global.

Reinvest Global’s primary mission is to act as a liaison between multinational corporations and government leaders. We help companies establish their presence and expand their customer base into global markets by providing access, resources, business opportunities, and connections to generate exports and economic growth. I would like to connect with the other interested participants virtually over the coming months and continue the effort. Reinvest Global is planning to organize three independent global trips of around 20-30 business leaders, government servants, and investors to APAC, Europe, and Middle east countries, respectively. Reinvest Global plans to work with USTDA and accomplish more in education and economic development.

Great results come only when everyone in the team contributes. I would like to thank the following individuals, who have contributed and supported me in accomplishing the above results:

          1. John Lummus, president/CEO of Upstate SC Alliance, for all the coordination and support;

          2. Tony Smith from GDAC for helping me understand the key aspects and connections within South Carolina;

          3. Didier Rousselière, director of Global Partnerships and Initiatives Global Engagement at Clemson University, for driving long distance to hand out letters in person;

          4. Leigh LeMoine, deputy chief of staff at the Office of the Governor, and Beth Webb, commerce liaison and special projects at the Office of the Governor, for helping things move at a quicker pace; and

          5. Annie Caggiano, project manager at SCCED and economic development professional at S.C. Department of Commerce, for connecting with right people and team members within her office.

None of this would have been possible without the support of these people: 

          1. Seshu Kanuri, APNRT director and head of investments, and Leela Krishna, APNRT deputy director;

          2. Srinivas Kollipara, COO of T-Hub, for giving us a wonderful tour of T-Hub; and

          3. Aruna Reddy, head of the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the Indian School of Business.

(Srikanth Kodeboyina is founder and CEO of Greer-based Blue Eye Soft Corp.)