Why the Pune startup ecosystem won’t follow the footsteps of Bangalore

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High growth, excellent weather, good human resource - are things you associate with both Pune and Bangalore, two of the most talked about cities in India. Bangalore is undoubtedly the biggest startup hub in India but Pune is not too far behind. Often compared with each other, many see Pune treading in the footsteps to become what Bangalore currently is some year from now, albeit in a planned manner.

Bangalore as a city wasn’t ready for the spurt of growth it got hit with during early 2000. Traffic remains a continuous nuisance and managing growth has been a big challenge for the city. Pune in that respect is at a stage where it can prepare and plan better for the future.

The Startup Ecosystem- Birds Eye View

Bangalore is our own Silicon Valley, a tech focused startup scene. If you were to pick an Indian tech startup randomly in a listing, you’re more likely to pick a company from Bangalore, the odds are such. There are companies in other sectors but the numbers are skewed in favour of technology.

On the other hand, the scene in Pune is picking up, there have been success stories but it is still nowhere close to Bangalore. There is more diversity and people have still not grown up to the idea of startup as a culture.

The Current Situation in Pune

After spending some time in the city and meeting key figures in the Pune circuit, one general trend that one can see is that there isn’t a cohesive effort so far. “There are many small communities popping up in the different parts of the city,” says Navin Kabra, the founder of Pune Tech. “The entrepreneurs individually are mature but the startup scene as a whole isn’t,” says Santosh Dawara of Open Coffee Club.

On the support side, there are angels based in Pune but a serious entrepreneur always keeps making trips to Mumbai or Bangalore for opening up new doors. “I keep traveling to Mumbai for the small meetups. For instance, we have a 20-25 people getting together regularly for founders meetup in Mumbai,” says Rohan Dighe of Viralmint, a Pune based company incubated by Seed Fund.

Organizations like TiE Pune, Open Coffee Club and Pune Tech conducts events sporadically to keep the system invigorated but entrepreneurship still isn’t the first language. “There are efforts but culturally we’re still not there. The levels of enthusiasm which one comes to expect is somehow missing. There are loads of startups in Pune but they all work in silos,” says Prasant Naidu, the founder of LHInsights. “The situation is picking up but we need to see more,” resonates Sudhir Patil of Qualitia Software.

One gets a feeling that the city is approaching a tipping point; the stage is set, all that is left is to ignite the flame.

What’s different?

  • Bangalore is a melting pot for different cultures, you see people from all the parts coming together here. And a high percentage of the people moving to Bangalore have a tech orientation. Tech startups in any part of the country harbor the intent of setting shop in Bangalore.As suggested in this research paper, culture and entrepreneurship do have a strong co-relation. The paper suggests that diversity helps in places which have good institutions and such is the case in Bangalore. Pune has good institutions but you’d still find relatively less diversity.
  • Another point lies in terms of sectorial width. Pune has been an automobile hub, and one sees startups in different sectors. “Agriculture and auto startups are in a much higher number,” shares Santosh. “Also, the other fact is that Pune is inclined towards movies, film, culture more and there is an influence from Mumbai,” he adds.
  • If one looks closely, there are lesser chances of finding a consumer facing glamorous web startup from Pune. The city doesn’t suggest a strong influence from the Silicon Valley.

There have been success stories but the number of hits need to increase to get the startup buzz into households. The startup scene is destined to grow but if planned well and if steps like sector specific accelerators and incubators are taken, the city can develop as a more wholesome hub.

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