Entrepreneurship Flourishes During Tough Times

By Jennifer Donovan | Published

Hard times can actually be the best of times for would-be entrepreneurs, says Kanwal Rekhi, a Michigan Technological University alumnus, advisor and supporter who became a highly successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur. Rekhi will give two public presentations at Michigan Tech on Wednesday, March 4.

"Entrepreneurship in Hard Times" will be Rekhi's afternoon presentation, scheduled for 2 to 5 p.m. at the Advanced Technology Development Complex on Sharon Avenue at Garnet in Houghton. Rekhi will describe what he calls "the entrepreneurial journey" and explain why a bad economy can be a good thing for someone who wants to become an entrepreneur.

In a talk at 10 a.m. March 4 in the Memorial Union Ballroom A-1, Rekhi will discuss the "Branding of India." He will describe the rise of India, one of the world's fastest-growing economies based on a burgeoning tech-oriented middle class. Even so, prosperity is bypassing many of India's 1.1 billion people, particularly residents of rural areas, Rekhi says. Solutions to India's education and health-care needs are elusive, requiring the cooperation of Indian and US entrepreneurs and institutions of higher education, he adds.

Rekhi himself was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Venture magazine in 1987. He co-founded TiE, an Indian-US entrepreneurs' association that promotes wealth creation through entrepreneurship.

Rekhi founded Excelan, a pioneering computer networking company and one of the first to commercially develop the TCP/IP protocol. In 1989 Excelan merged with Novell, where Rekhi served as executive vice president, chief technology officer and a member of the board of directors.

He will be on campus from March 2 to 5, meeting with faculty, students, Michigan Tech SmartZone representatives and the University's Board of Trustees. The Michigan Tech Fund is sponsoring his visit.

Born in Pakistan, Rekhi emigrated to the US from India. He has long had close ties to Michigan Tech. Graduating in 1969 with a master's degree in electrical engineering, he has served on the President's International Advisory Board. He received an honorary doctorate in business and engineering from Tech and the Board of Trustees Silver Medal for outstanding service to the University.

Rekhi and his wife, Ann, contributed $5 million toward building Michigan Tech's computer science building next to Fisher Hall. It bears their name, the Kanwal and Ann Rekhi Computer Science Hall.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.