It is not often that you see the confluence of an investor, a few entrepreneurs and a journalist sharing a few light moments come on the public forum. And these light moments are never shared especially when there’s a journo around. But this maybe was one of those rare decisions and this is what the system needs. This article is not about “4 must have slides in your deck” or “How to raise series A in Asia” (although they’re very important as well) but more about givers & takers and the startup ecosystem in India.
The setup is Mcleodganj in Himachal Pradesh and it is known to be a laid back city where time takes a breather; not exactly a spawning ground for startups. But even here, let alone the tier 2 cities- there is activity. We recently wrote about Ayush Ghai setting up a product company in Dharamshala and there are more to come. Varun Rattan Singh runs an IT services company in Himachal with 20 employees and is about to complete 18 months of existence and a strong one at that. “How do you find people here?” exclaimed an entrepreneur from Mumbai, and Varun says, “All you need is heart, things follow.”
“This is a place for the not-so-ambitious,” you might proclaim but you’d only fooling yourself if you believed so. There might not be the ambition to become the richest person in the world but the ambition to grow is always there, it is an innate human desire (and almost a binding one). And these are not just a few rare off cases. Varun has been a part of organizing hackathons and events like such at colleges in Himachal and the response has been heartening. But again, you’d say, “It’s a servicing company after all.” It damn well is but that is how an ecosystem grows. “It is very important to nurture the initial local talent, be it via a services company. From there on only, they’d get ideas and more product companies will emerge,” said Sameer Guglani, founder of The Morpheus.
Price point is not the challenge while hiring in such places. “A person would join you even if you’re offering him or her half the salary but what you have the plate for them is a lifestyle,” informs Ayush. It sure is! A person who is willing to spend 4 months in snow shunning his plush IT corporate job surely doesn’t have money on the top of his priority list. And this is what is best for a growing company. You do what you want and money follows.
But that’s an optimistic way of putting it. Money doesn’t always follow. Entrepreneurs in the area can only do so much. The support has to come from outside to grow the system. 10 smaller startup ecosystems growing in different parts of the country will help create more networks and this how the nation would grow and become more entrepreneurial. It’s by no means hard to setup a company in Bangalore but the hiring issues and infrastructures have started taking a toll. It is the right time to branch off some of the activities into emerging spots as Bangalore will anyways continue to grow now. And not just Bangalore, we’re including Mumbai and NCR over here as well. The smaller cities are smelling the startup taste, let’s start serving them well and we’ll have a delightful buffet for us to revel in.
P.S. These cities don’t need a lot of money. Local evangelists are great. And they're there in every city.