In India, we don't have garage startups. We start up in apartments!
What do Microsoft, Apple, HP and Amazon have in common? All four of them began in the garages of their founders. Silicon Valley is full of stories of technology giants with such humble beginnings. In fact, this picture of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak sitting together and building the first Macintosh computer is almost an icon of innovation and enterprise in Silicon Valley.
Bangalore, long known as India’s Silicon Valley is no different. Only, in a country where the cities have apartment complexes rather than landed houses,, we have flats instead of garages. The start-up ecosystem is full of stories of companies that began in two bedroom apartments and have now grown to become symbols of entrepreneurship in India. Also, very few houses today in India have the luxury of a garage, instead these teams start their ventures bootstrapped in rented 2BHK flats. Why, even we at YourStory began in a small apartment in Ulsoor in Bengaluru.
We bring you some of the more prominent companies that began in an apartment.
Flipkart, now a billion dollar e-commerce company, started as a mere online book ordering website way back in 2007. The founding duo, Sachin and Binny Bansal (not related to each other) were working in the same team at Amazon where they decided to start this online website. Both pooled in close to Rs 2 lakhs each and with Rs 10,000 monthly allowance from their parents for nearly 18 months gave them the muscle to sustain and build Flipkart. They used to work from a rented 2 bedroom apartment in Koramangala, a Bengaluru suburb, which has now grown to three buildings. The first order to be placed on Flipkart was from Andra Pradesh when someone ordered the book 'Leaving Microsoft to Change the World' by John Wood.
As starting up stories go, TaxiForSure has probably the most interesting story. Founders Aprameya R and Raghunandan G, friends for 15 years, used to get frustrated while returning home from late night drinks at bars in Bangalore. They started working out of a 100sq. feet terrace-room on top of an apartment in JP Nagar with their first employee, Ashok Ravi. Later they hired 3 more employees to help them manage operations. Aprameya candidly shares memories of those early days when they used to have investor meetings out on the terrace as they couldn't disturb the employees working in that 100sq. feet room. The team has expanded rapidly and today has a larger office with operations having scaled across more than 10 Indian cities. But the team still rents out that room and usually organises their team parties over there (HO terrace parties as employees call it internally).
The leading one-stop furniture destination, Urban Ladder has grown very swiftly compared to its competitors in this space. Recently, they raised funding from Ratan Tata, which speaks volumes about their potential in the coming few years. From McKinsey to ACK Media, to starting up at Urban Ladder; Ashish Goel’s professional progression bears no sign of being conventional. After moving to Bangalore, Ashish’s and Rajeev’s houses were devoid of furniture because of the lack of a trusted furniture brand. This made them start and build the leading Indian furniture e-commerce in couple of years time. They have a unique office setting in Bangalore that is practically an office in a house. Here's a video of Urban Ladder's office space a couple of years back.
One of the biggest exits for Indian startups in the recent times, Redbus was once ideated and started in a flat where Phanindra Sama lived with the other two co-founders in Bangalore. It was during Diwali 2005 when Phanindra faced the problem of getting bus tickets that he realised the gravity of this unorganised mess. He pitched this idea to his flatmates who also happen to be his classmates from BITS Pilani, both of them believed in this idea and started Redbus. Last year, Nasper's ibibo acquired Redbus in a Rs. 800 crore deal.
So, keep an eye out. Who knows, your next door neighbour might be a startup company that may make headlines just like these ones.
Did you start this way and have now moved on? We'd love to have you pictures documented as well. Send them in to firstname.lastname@example.org.