Is it too early to call Namma Bengaluru the startup hub of India?

When it comes to the startup ecosystems in India, Bangalore has finally got us on the global map. but is it too early to call it the startup hub of India?


When it comes to the startup ecosystems in India, Bengaluru has finally got us on the global map. Recently the Startup Genome’s Global Index  now known as Compass placed Bangalore at the 15th position in the overall world ranking, which means the city has stepped up by four places from its 19th spot in 2012.

Bangalore also justifies the rankings with its performance with highest number of startups, growth rate and evaluation. In terms of VC funding, Bengaluru stands 6th after tech hubs like Silicon Valley, New York, Boston, Los Angeles and Tel Aviv in Israel, the report states.

 Is it too early to call Namma Bengaluru the startup hub of India?

Mumbai has been the financial capital and IT has been brewing up in cities like Pune, Hyderabad and Chennai too. However, when we talk about startups or tech in India, Bengaluru is arguably the first city to pop-up in most minds. Let’s take a look at what is possibly making Bangalore the startup hub of India.

“Bangalore also boasts an incredibly youthful startup ecosystem, with the youngest average founders’ age of all the top 20 ecosystems,” reveals the Compass report.

Firstly, there is no denying that Bengaluru appears to be a tech-imbued, youthful city. Bengaluru welcomed Information technology with open arms and the pool of talent has helped make resources easily available and put some great minds together.

Rama Harinath, the co-founder of Homelane says, "Bangalore has a bustling ecosystem of tech talent, mentors, accelerators and incubators. You cannot miss budding entrepreneurs in any coffee shop in Bangalore. It will take time for other cities to build this kind of momentum."

Image: Reuters

Image: Reuters

Along with a strong IT infrastructure that brings large pool of techies and cosmopolitan culture, Bengaluru has other advantages in terms of educational and entrepreneurial institutes. For instance, it has has the science centre of India with more than 100 R&D centres, largest number of engineering colleges and a pleasant climate. It is also known to be the backbone of India's outsourcing industry.

Living in the bustling Koramangala neighbourhood, an incubator or co-work space advertisement on shear sheets stuck onto a tree trunk doesn't cease to surprise us anymore. The business section of newspapers doesn't seem boring anymore with some exciting startups getting the fair share of viewing space. But, wait, is it to too early to come to a concensus? Now, everyone believes that Bengaluru is the startup hub. But let's see what's on the other side of the flipped coin.

“Bangalore definitely hosts the highest density of startups, but I dont think it's the startup hub of India. In terms of sheer "profitable" companies, for example, Delhi beats Bangalore hands down. Pune is an emerging ecosystem. Chennai has the maximum number of SaaS startups (is becoming the SaaS hub of India). So it feels like India is a multi-hub ecosystem, not a single location one,” Vijay Anand of TheStartupCentre believes.

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In a recent Quora thread, Anand went to explain how the whole startup-hub concept is old school, wherein people had to be at the same place, face to face, to learn things. Today, the world has evolved with Skype, Google Hangouts, Quora and various other ways to learn, share and approach markets.

"Even the Newer hubs in the US are not Silicon Valley Centric, the world is shifting towards a distributed cluster model where there is a play for Seattle, New York, Chicago, Boston heck even for Boulder. The Indian model will also follow a similar trend. Depending on whether you are building an enterprise business, a deals-business, a tech startup, or one that needs careful cash-flow (platform businesses), or one driven by ads and media influence, the city where you need to plant your feet in will vary. There is no one city," he explains.

Though Bengaluru is an open ground for breeding entrepreneurs, other cities seem to be catching up soon. Pune and Chandigarh are believed to be at the forefront, some other also vouch for Chennai and Delhi.

"Since it has been a city that has always had backend product development (but never the strategy or the marketing bits), it seems a bit lacking. But i can see how certain businesses, and niche (with strong tech focus) can thrive here very well. Very little distractions and good weather. Close proximity to Mumbai," he writes about Pune. However, Mumbai seems like a lost cause to him as every conversation in Mumbai eventually zeros down to retail and finance. Infact, Mumbai has always been lagard when it comes to tech startups, and it was only when the IIT Bombay incubators started giving in the push, a considerable network now seems to crop up.

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Delhi is the place where the revenue clock is ticking at all time. "But the problem with Delhi is that, while its haven for "deal sites" like Snapdeal, Jabong etc, tech startups will struggle there," Anand wrote. Now, we won't be wronged to say that a startup will thrive in a city that is best suited for it and has the resources that it requires.

Afterall, a startup is where the budding entrepreneurs are comfortable working – taking into account many factors that affect the particular product and its founders - ranging from weather, type of product, resources, probable customers and more.

So, depending upon the startup, one could choose any city, be it Pune, Bengaluru, Chennai, Chandigarh or Delhi. A more tech-based startup would be in Bengaluru or Pune while business-based would be better placed in Mumbai. A plethora of other factors also matter, access to customers, property whether owned, lease or rent, infrastructure, access to VCs and mentors also matters. Talking about VCs and mentors, there is arguably no denying that Bengaluru steals the brownie points.

So, is Bengaluru in the lead and others catching up soon or its really time to grow out of the on-hub culture with the next gen ways of communication. What do you think, is it too early to call Bengaluru the startup hub of India?


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