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BANGALORE. Destined to be the Startup Capital of India?

Bangalore

I love Bangalore; everything about Bangalore. Call it Bangalore or Bengalooru, it is the home that welcomes all. The city with the most cosmopolitan culture. The city with the most moderate climate in the country. The trees that have stood the test of time, the streets that have seen all wheels, the warm people, the hustling restaurants, the thriving malls, the coffee shops that host innumerable conversations, the colleges that are building the country’s future, the trademark autorickshaws, buses for the masses and buses for the classes, the roads, fly-overs, the bridges and metro rails that are always under construction, the city’s great music, theatre, food, festivals,(and films?), cinemas and multiplexes. I love them all!

In the middle of this concoction of melody and madness is the Bangalorean! Bangalore is one of the few cities in the country that welcomes everyone with wide open arms irrespective of their religion, language, caste/creed, political beliefs, qualification, nationality or even sexual orientation. A Banglaorean may be male, female or a transgender, may be a just-born or a 100 year old, may be a multi-million business owner or a daily wage labourer. These are not attributes that describe a Bangalorean. It is the spirit that defines a Bagalorean. The spirit of fun and joy, the spirit of humanitarianism, the spirit of change, the spirit of courage, enthusiasm and ambition, the spirit of openness, adaptability and co-existence, the spirit of giving, the spirit of growth and progress, the spirit of professionalism, the spirit of Entrepreneurship.

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YourStory.in conducted an in depth research among Entrepreneurs and StartUps across the country called the “State of StartUps Survey” during mid-2012. Responses were collected from over 400 start ups across the country, with the intention of finding how the startups were doing, their biggest challenges and the opportunities in front of them. There were many interesting finds in that research, but what really caught my eye was the response to the question “The best city in India to Start Up”. 34% of the respondents picked Bangalore. This, despite the fact that only 19% were from Bangalore.

Click here to see more on the survey: http://research.yourstory.in/2012/09/state-of-the-startup-survey-report/

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Startup Genome & Telefonica Digital teamed up to take a global look at the state of startups to understand where, outside of the proven testing grounds of Silicon Valley, does Entrepreneurship take hold. What is interesting and very encouraging is that this report ranks Bangalore #19 among all the startup eco systems in the world. Not surprisingly, Bangalore is the only city from India that figures on that list. Below is a gist of where Bangalore stands on a global scale on the various indices.

Personally, I love it that the report suggests that Bangalore is ranked 10th globally on the Mindset index. According to the report’s definition, the mindset index measures how well the population of founders in the ecosystem thinks like a great entrepreneur, where a great entrepreneur is visionary, resilient, has a high appetite for risk, a strong work ethic and an ability to overcome the typical challenges startups face. In simpler terms, Bangaloreans have what it takes to be world class Entrepreneurs.

You can find more details about the report here http://techcrunch.com/2012/11/20/startup-genome-ranks-the-worlds-top-startup-ecosystems-silicon-valley-tel-aviv-l-a-lead-the-way/

As overwhelming as these surveys and reports are, I wanted to really try and understand what makes Bangaloreans as enterprising as they are. And the answer to that is the excellent eco-system. Historically, Bangalore has never seen any serious turmoils, uprising, political, religious, regional or any other battle. Tolerance and fun have been at the core of the way Bangalore has functioned ever since the city was formed. Bangalore is geographically located at the heart of South India, making it central in terms of accessibility. Not to mention, the weather in the city makes it most conducive for a comfortable lifestyle. Politically, Karnataka has not seen great leadership in a long time. However the administrative leadership that Karnakata has witnessed from the time the English ruled, until much after is second to none. The engineering and planning genius of the likes of Sir M. Visweswaraiah has seen Karnataka having great infrastructure like dams, electricity, etc. Thanks to the long term vision of such leadership, Karnataka has seen great focus on education in all fields. That means, Karnataka in general and Bangalore in particular has had the great fortune of having two of the most important attributes that any industries look for:

  • Access to ample natural and manmade resources
  • Pool of human resource talent that is world class

It was then no chance that Bangalore became Head Quarters to several of the country’s Public Sector Undertakings(PSUs) including Bharat Electronics Limited(BEL), Hindustan Aeronautics Limited(HAL), National Aerospace Laboratories(NAL), Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited(BHEL), Bharat Earth Movers Limited(BEML), Hindustan Machine Tools(HMT) and Indian Space Research Organization(ISRO). Till around 1990s, lives revolved around getting jobs in these PSUs or with nationalized banks or other government organizations. While these large industries helped the city grow, they also encouraged the growth of a series of private companies that could offer various services to the growing population and to these companies themselves. All these energies that were getting bottled up, exploded like a bottle of champagne when the new reforms opened markets like never before during the rule of India’s late prime minister, PV Narasimha Rao around 1992. Bangalore suddenly saw a slew of new age businesses, although the city was still not familiar with the term Entrepreneurship. Software had become a house hold term; Infosys and Wipro the new messiahs. The end of the 20th Century really placed Bangalore on the global map with its comparisons to Silicon Valley. The term “Bangalored” had started to colloquially represent the advent of BPOs and Call Centers. Bangalore established itself as the Biotechnology capital with 47% of BT companies in India having their HQ in Bangalore. Bangalore has seen progress in practically every sector of industries – manufacturing, electrical, electronics, telecommunication, automobile, aerospace, horology, infrastructure, realty, FMCG, hospitality, etc.

For people like me who were born, grew up, studied and worked in Bangalore, starting an Enterprise from Bangalore was an obvious choice. But I was curious to know why people who had little or nothing to do with Bangalore chose this city for their Entrepreneurial journey. So, I decided to speak to some of them. I asked everyone one question – “Why did they choose Bangalore as the city to startup?” and here’s what I got from them:

Subhadip Sural is the co-founder of Year Zero Designs, an advertising agency based out of HSR Layout. He studied in West Bengal and worked for 3 years in the advertising industry in Pune, before moving to Bangalore to startup YZD. “Bangalore seemed to be the perfect option. Bangalore had a lot of startups and the market here was willing to listen to a new voice. We felt that the cosmopolitan vibe of the city ensured regionalism wouldn’t get seeped in. And we expected that the immense potential of these startups would give us the opportunity to grow together.”

Goutam Surana founded Neo Systek in 2011 in Vijayanagar. A native of Assam, he studied in Assam, Vishakhapatnam and Mumbai. He then worked for 2 years in Hyderabad, before founding his company that offers water saving and energy-saving equipment. “Bangalore has the professional touch, unlike Delhi and Mumbai. Buyers are more mature, open to new ideas and are early adopters of technology. The greatest motivation was that Bangaloreans appreciate young talent. Generally, Bangalore is not as corrupt as the other cities.”

Val Gray, currently founder and director of Bangalore based Talent Makers, which is into Talent Assessment and Development, hails from UK and has been an Entrepreneur through most of her working life. After 24 years of working in US and UK when she and her family chose to move to India, they initially moved to Delhi hoping they would be a better fit there. But over time, they realized that in Delhi foreigners are either diplomats, tourists or vagabonds. They found that Delhi had district ‘cliques’ and that there was no sense of ‘center’ to the community. They loved Bangalore, which they shifted to 13 years ago because of the good connectivity, great climate and good options for schools for kids. “In Bangalore there is a strong business and professional community, where different cultures mix on common ground socially and professionally. The city is small enough to be able to maintain its sense of ‘centre’.”

Venkataprasad Malepati, founder of Pangea Group, which is in the business of Infrastructural Development and Allied Design Services, is a native of Bellary. He completed his PG from IIT-Guwahati and then worked for ITC Infotech Bangalore. When Entrepreneurship beckoned, “Bangalore was the obvious choice. Bangalore scored high on all aspects that mattered. There are great networking opportunities, people here are kind, supportive and accommodating, the climate is the best in the country and the culture here has a great balance of progressiveness and spiritualism. In my view, Bangalore is the most beautiful and peaceful city in India. The most decisive factor for me was that Bangalore has great human resource.”

It is no wonder then that Vlad Dubovskiy, founder of Unstoppable thought Bangalore of all the cities in the world has most potential to become a formidable eco system for startups and Entrepreneurship. Unstoppable has partnered with TiE(The Indus Entrepreneurs) and with the support of the Government of Karnataka, is creating an event to celebrate Entrepreneurship and foster startups. This will be happening in Bangalore from 7th to 10th March, 2013. See www.startupfestival.in.

Isn’t it obvious then, that any student or professional looking to startup should pack his/her bag and come to Bangalore? Irrespective of whether you are a first time Entrepreneur or a serial Entrepreneur, Bangalore beckons you. Bangalore respects your ideas and offers you ambience to nurture the idea into the next big thing. So, what are you waiting for? You have an idea? Come to Bangalore. Come home to the Startup Capital of India.

15 thoughts on “BANGALORE. Destined to be the Startup Capital of India?

  1. Well documented Sri. I completely and overwhelmingly second your thoughts

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