I often get asked why I chose Bengaluru to start my entrepreneurial journey and how the decision has helped me. Today, I thought of penning it down.
I became self-employed in 2011. Till the day before, December 31, 2010 that is, I worked for SiliconIndia, where I was working as a Senior Product Manager and Director of Online Education.
Bengaluru has always been my biggest strength. The place is buzzing with energy and the people are amiable and multicultural. I would like to talk a bit about the history to throw some light on this. Bengaluru was multicultural even before India got Independence. Some parts of Bengaluru were under the British Empire and Madras Presidency and the rest was under the Mysore maharajas. Areas like Basavanagudi and Malleshwaram were under the Mysore Empire and constituted of mostly Kannadigas. However, places like the Cantonment Area, K R Puram etc., all had a significant population of Tamil and Telugu speakers.
Post Independence, the headquarters of the major PSUs like ISRO, BHEL, BEL, HAL etc., came up in Bengaluru. This made people across the country travel to the city. People coming from the North were greeted in Hindi, while people from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh were greeted in their mother tongue. This was pleasing for the floating population of Bengaluru, as it gave a feeling of home-away-home for the people who came in for a career.
And the entire landscape kept evolving, with the influx of people from across the globe. Thus, the people of Bengaluru are very much open to trying out new things. If you have a product and you want to do an initial validation, you just have to go out, and there will be hundreds of prospective users who will be happy to give you one. We get our clients to do the same.
So while I was starting up, one of my friends shared his office space with me and he helped me with the initial setup. I would suggest the same hack for aspiring entrepreneurs. Talk to your friends, family or an entrepreneur about your idea and ask them to share some space. It’s a good way to start off till the time you have the product ready. You save on cost, effort and you have a support system.
There are a few good things about being an entrepreneur in Bengaluru
An entrepreneur needs a great ecosystem to build a successful business. And the key components are:
Talent: Bengaluru has the best tech talent in the country. If you are building a technology company, no place will do better than Bengaluru. There is a reason why the multinationals across the world are setting up shop in Bengaluru. Also, when it comes to vendors and service providers, you have multiple options to count on.
Learning opportunities: No matter how experienced you are, every entrepreneur should keep learning. Especially when you run a startup, the chances of you getting isolated are very high. It's very crucial for you to know what’s happening around and the trends. Else you may get lost in the competition.
Bengaluru offers a lot of options for you to go out and listen to multiple points of view. There are many meet-ups focussed on startups and entrepreneurship. And I have seen many entrepreneurs coming out and sharing their success stories as well as fables of failures.
Market: Like I mentioned earlier, Bengaluru has a very startup-friendly crowd. If you just go out on the street, you can find your first set of users. People are ready to try out new options, and untested solutions.
Networking: Fearing your peer is the biggest mistake you can make these days. It’s all about collaborating and learning. This will open up new opportunities and spark some brilliant ideas. Bengaluru has a lot of networking events to offer. Also, you can call a founder and talk to him/her directly. I have done this many a times; nobody ever said no to me. There is always something in common to discuss when one founder meets another.
Fun: Work hard, party harder. That’s the way to go. All my entrepreneur friends have this one thing in common: everyone loves to have fun. All work and no fun can make you old fast. Bengaluru has many places for you to have a beer and chill.
Here are a few happening places in Bengaluru, where the startup people hang out, and where you can meet and network with like-minded people.
Koramangala, Indira Nagar and HSR outscore every other place in Bengaluru. You have many startups setting up shop in these areas. The best example is Flipkart. Apart from it, other successful startups that made their business in Koramangala include Ola, Swiggy, LocalOye, Momoe, HackerEarth, Instamojo, Grabhouse and many others.
Apart from the startups, there are many co-working spaces, investors, accelerators, event spaces in these areas, which makes these places a perfect destination for anyone to startup. They are filled with young, vibrant and cosmopolitan people.
Costa Coffee at Koramangala is the de facto destination for startup folks and investors. To meet interesting entrepreneurs, one must hang out there, as well as in Starbucks.
Following are the reasons why I opted for Koramangala
- Accessibility – It’s very important to have your office located in a place where people can easily commute to. The public transport link to Koramangala is very good.
- Convenience – Koramangala provides a variety of amenities. The food joints ease the experience of taking our clients or staff out for a drink. Life goes on while we are at work too, so there will be errands our team will have to take care of. It is easy for people to get their bills paid or finish up some bank-related work during lunch hour. Other highlights of the place include the public grounds, parks, multiplexes, hospitals, major service centres, accommodation facilities, hotels etc. This helps us attract great, young talent.
- Restaurants - Majority of Bengaluru’s population is floating, and the biggest need for them is to eat their local cuisine. The large number of restaurants makes it easier for the staff to dine out based on the place they come from. It's just like home.
- Safety – To me, Koramangala is one of the safest places in the city. Nobody needs to be worried about leaving the office at odd hours, and this is key for any startup.
- Trendy – Koramangala is trendy and having an address in Koramangala matters a lot. This really helps in attracting quality clients as well.
- Cost – Koramangala is startup-friendly in terms of cost when compared to the CBD, while being as prestigious as any other neighbourhood.