India's diversity is very prominent in its major cities, with each offering its own unique blend of life and culture. From the point of view of a startup, cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune and Delhi NCR are home to very different business climates, with each city's environment differing in terms of infrastructure and connectivity, ready availability of skilled labour, real estate, startup capital and most importantly, a suitable market. There are other startup friendly cities like Chennai, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad but talking broadly, the four aforementioned regions lead by a huge margin. So where should an aspiring entrepreneur choose to set up his startup? We asked a few entrepreneurs about their views and Quora also had a few brilliant answers (especially Arun Purohit, founder at WIC)
Popularly known as the financial capital of the country, Mumbai has traditionally been host to some of the biggest financial institutions, and the presence of a large number of angel investors and venture capital funds makes it relatively easy for startups to get funding. It certainly pays to know your way around though, and pulling the right strings should make the process a whole lot easier. The presence of a large internet-connected population presents a ready market and easy availability of goods and services is a plus point. Mumbai being a thriving metropolitan naturally enjoys excellent connectivity with the rest of the country. And as every mumbaikar says, "Once a mumbaikar, always a mumbaikar."; this is how the SmartMumbaikars are. However, setting up shop in Mumbai doesn't come without its pitfalls. Absurdly high and ever increasing real estate prices act as a deterrent to entrepreneurs, and a significant portion of one's day is spent only in the commute.
Bengaluru enjoys its position as the city of choice for tech entrepreneurs, and not without reason. The city is home to some of the finest tech talent in the country, and with a thriving young population of technocrats, it's a natural choice for tech-startups. Janakiram, the founder at Minewhat and Vivek, the CEO at WowMakers both resonate here, “If it’s a tech startup, it has to be Bangalore!” Moreover, Bangalore attracts talent from its neighbouring states as well, and is home to some of the finest technological and management institutions like IISc and IIM, which not only churn out top-notch graduates every year but are also involved in cutting edge research in their respective fields. This glorious tech-talent though, comes at a price, with engineering graduates' salaries going through the roof with every coming year. The city falls short when it comes to its public transport system, and the lack of an alternative to road transport is the cause for terribly long commute times.
Delhi, along with neighbouring areas such as Gurgaon, Noida and Faridabad are rapidly establishing themselves as industrial hubs with a very favourable business climate and Sumit Charles, the founder at Firstbase more than agrees with this fact. The NCR boats some of the best infrastructure in the country with excellent intra-city transport facilities and reasonable real estate prices. A greater per-capita income means greater spending power which provides a ready market to sells one's product or service. Easy availability of both skilled and unskilled labour from the neighbouring states of UP, Haryana, Rajasthan and Bihar, coupled with the opportunity to quickly popularize one's startup thanks to media houses like ToI and HT have proven to be very conducive to startups. On the flipside, Delhi's infamous crime rate and safety issues, particularly with regards to women are serious concerns.
The city of Pune has earned a reputation as an IT hub within Maharashtra, and provides an atmosphere similar to that of Bangalore in being favourable to tech-companies. And Anuj Tondon, the founder at Rolocule vouches for this. The presence of tech parks along with a young, enthusiastic workforce and strong startup spirit have contributed to its growth and the city is an ideal setting for an entrepreneur. Excellent educational institutions within the city attract talent from all over the country as a result of which the the market has a varied demographic. Easy availability of reasonably priced real estate in the city along with its enormous potential to expand are two more factors. Close proximity to the financial hub of Mumbai gives easy access to venture capitalists and angel investors, hence raising capital should not be a problem. Meanwhile Pune is a smaller, and quieter city, free from many of the problems faced by Mumbai.
Of all the cities, Pune seems to have the brightest future as unlike Bangalore, it is aware of the huge burst in population it is going to see. Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi are developed to a much greater extent while Pune is yet to reach there and has a much larger potential to grow. Hyderabad was touted to be a huge IT hub around 5 to 7 years ago but it hasn’t really capitalized. So looking ahead, we see Pune to excel brilliantly along with other centres coming up in regions in Chennai and Gujarat.
Which city gets your vote?