Here's why I decided to shift from Bengaluru to a tier 2 town to start up

17th Sep 2017
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Bengaluru, like Delhi-NCR and other metro cities, continues to be the watering hole as far as startups are concerned. Everyone wants to begin their startup journey from larger cities as they provide easy access to important things that help establish a tech venture, be it resources, capital, or talent. 

Rajeev Tamhankar, Founder, TBS Planet, decided to move to his hometown Jabalpur and realised that he could grow his venture faster and with ease in this tier 2 town in Madhya Pradesh. 

Here's his personal account.

Rajeev Tamhankar

Goodbye basic existential issues

Staying in Bengaluru, or any metro for that matter, can be tough on the pocket, more so if you are a bootstrapped entrepreneur because you not only have to solve the big challenges of startups but even those of daily life.

Spending Rs 10,000 on rent, another Rs 10,000 on food (oh yes, a Saturday dinner can easily make you Rs 1,000 lighter), Rs 5,000 on local travel, in addition to managing supermarket bills, maintaining a lifestyle, personal grooming etc, metros demand (yes, I say DEMAND!!) one spend at least Rs 30,000 to Rs 35,000 on a decent lifestyle. Moving to Jabalpur with my parents cut me off rent worries, food worries, and daily life struggles.

So, I could spend every minute on either my startup or on entertainment. At least daily routines were no longer a challenge. I didn't have to wake up and think, "Aaj cook nahi aaya - lunch kahan se order karun? Kya lunch meeting ke pehle pahuch jaayega?" 

And let’s not even think what happens when one falls sick -- a simple check-up for a cough and cold could easily cost Rs 300 here, as opposed to Rs 50 in a tier 2 town.

More randomness, easier travel

Bengaluru, unfortunately, is pretty far from cities like Mumbai and Pune, and a ticket to Delhi or Kolkata is more expensive than a trip to Thailand! Apart from cities in south India, meetings in other cities were a bit too heavy on the pocket. After all, who will spend Rs 10,000 on a round-trip flight just to get a 100-book deal from a bookstore chain in Delhi, right?

Financially, it would be cheaper to distribute the books for free in Bengaluru to reach just as many people! But when I moved to Jabalpur, I could travel to Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Bhopal, Indore, and Nagpur, and tied up with over 120 bookstores in 10 cities in just three months. Yes, we built these relations in just THREE months! (Ask a book publisher or an FMCG brand and they would tell you the feat is impossible! *Proud laugh*)

Rajeev at his new office in Jabalpur.

There is no way I would have cracked my deal with AH Wheeler, with its headquarters in Allahabad, if I were to do it from Bengaluru because it required a new startup like me to persist and visit every month or so to take discussions ahead. And, we managed to launch in 150 railway stations because of this! 

I was on a flash-sale mode (mobile phone pun intended!)

Having worked in a mobile company, I can tell you why weekly flash sales are a hit. Customers wait for the time when the flash sale will go live, and they all want to buy the product in that time frame. It gives a feeling of exclusivity, a feeling of special privilege, a feeling of importance.

When I lived in Bengaluru, I would ask for a meeting with a prospective partner (for whom meeting me might have also been important), but he would decide the date at his leisure, and even postpone it by a week or two.

After I moved out of Bengaluru and was instead just visiting a week every two months, the partner made sure we met and took things forward. I was like a flash sale!

If they could not meet me in that one week, they would have to wait for two months, or maybe even more, until I visit again. I cannot tell how jam-packed my weeks have been because everyone had only that "exclusive time frame" to meet and take things further.

Rajeev with the Mayor of Jabalpur.

Even for me, it was easier to tell folks, 'Hey I am here in week XYZ. Please, can you keep one hour free for me?' And they would usually say yes.

Local administration on your side

In Bengaluru, the joke goes that almost every other apartment has a startup founder. In Jabalpur, not as much - maybe two big startups in the entire city. So, a startup is just as important to the local administration or locally prominent folks as they are to the startup. We had the privilege of inviting the Mayor of Jabalpur for our startup anniversary, and she not only graced the occasion with her presence but also helped and guided us for a few future projects. We are also currently doing a comic project with some important personnel in the town.

Pocket-friendly professional expenses

An office in a bad location in Bengaluru would cost Rs 30,000 per month in rent. In Jabalpur, I had an office in the most prime property at just Rs 5,000 a month. A similar experienced professional in Bengaluru would need a higher salary to maintain his or her lifestyle as opposed to a tier-2 town because rent, food expenses, etc would be relatively much higher here.

Rajeev with his team.

Last, but not the least, the feel of creating new jobs

To be honest, Madhya Pradesh is a state that, unfortunately, has people either under the age of 25, or above 35 because the entire generation in this age bracket moves to cities like Pune, Bengaluru, or Mumbai struggling for jobs, while staying at a PG. Not because they like it, but because there are no local jobs. A Rs 10,000 job in Jabalpur is better than a Rs 20,000 salary in Bengaluru as almost the entire earnings could be savings. So, why not create jobs where they are actually needed? While I am in a privileged position that I can, why not give back to the city which raised me? Why not help foster entrepreneurship there as well?

What do you think? Is it easier to start up from a small town than a metro city? Have you moved to a tier 2 town to start up? Share your experience.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

 

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