Scripting Change Through Stories – Lakshmi Pratury
She’s a master storyteller and uses her skill to its maximum leverage. After two decades in marketing, venture capitalism and social entrepreneurship, Lakshmi Pratury turned her focus toward linking her home country of India more tightly with the American community. Her firm, Ixoraa Media, runs meetings and events to spark dialogue and make connections. In 2009, she co-hosted TEDIndia and saw such a warm response to the conference that she founded The INK Conference, in partnership with TED, that would pick up where TEDIndia left off
Lakshmi Pratury brought the TED conferences to India in 2009, and in December 2010, she curated and hosted the first INK Talks, in association with TED. Her career has spanned working in a variety of fields from venture capital to nonprofit organizations – and she was featured in Forbes Asia’s ‘100 Most Powerful Women’ list in 2010. Lakshmi holds a BA Degree in Mathematics from Nizam College, Hyderabad. She attended IIT, Mumbai, and has an MBA from the Bajaj Institute, India, earning a second MBA from Portland State University, with a minor in theatre arts.
Says Lakshmi, “I want to bring about an Indian renaissance through influencing the current and future leaders. I have my dream job of co-hosting TEDIndia and am committed to bringing more global voices to TED and bringing the energy of TED to India. After TEDIndia, I realized the importance of hosting such a conference in India. So, I started hosting the annual INK conference. I am lucky to have the support of the entire TED team and friends who help me in every possible way to succeed in hosting INK.”
For Lakshmi, her entire career has had an element of storytelling, and it still continues. She says, “When I was at Intel, it was about telling the story of technology to end users. How do you say it in a way they can understand? What is it for?” Later as a venture capitalist, she told the story of building product companies. In fact, that led to her becoming a social entrepreneur. Since people were not building product companies in the early 2000s in India, she decided to launch Digital Equalizer to impact children from an early age.
She tells us her TED story: “My ex-boss and now friend Avram Miller brought me to TED in ‘93 or ‘94 – I felt as though I was home. I have always been the one to be interested in math and theatre and marathons and writing and the list went on. And here was a place where I could meet the best from every field. I felt like a kid in a candy store. I attended every session every day and have not missed it since then. In the last 15+ years, I missed only one year because I had to stay home with my infant son. Even that year, I drove with him and my nanny from the Bay Area to Monterey to have dinner with all my TED buddies and enjoyed TED socializing for one night! And then having my 3 minutes on TED stage as a speaker and then co-hosting TEDIndia – it was exciting beyond words to mix career and fun with TED.”
Before TED Lakshmi worked at Intel for 12 years as a marketer and evangelist, then moved to a VC firm, Global Capitalist Partners. She began to focus more strictly on relationship-building with her move to the America India Foundation, where she founded the AIF’s Digital Equalizer program, offering technology education to some 80,000 children and 2,000 teachers in India. She also launched the AIF Summit for social entrepreneurs from India.
Her ideology in life is clear – success is a journey and not a destination – a journey of risks, failures and overcoming them while treating the fellow passengers with respect. “To me, the truly successful are those who are gracious when no one is looking, who share their power without being asked and who remember the support they received before they became famous. And they have a fantastic sense of humour,” she adds.
Open minded, friendly and so full of life, Lakshmi seems the ideal employer for her young team who work with her at INK Bengaluru. She says people who don’t know her well don’t realise that she is a master interviewer, and can bring out the essence of a person as she quizzes them. She has grand hopes of hosting a talk show some day. She’s also super passionate about anything Indian, watching movies and writing, and loves all things ordinary. And she’s ever willing to lend a patient ear to anyone who wants to speak on matters ranging from complex scientific phenomenon to the most ordinary happenings and occurrences.