Bangalore has had the reputation of being a technology and IT hub for a while now, and over the last few years has definitely evolved into a hub for entrepreneurs and startups as well (think Flipkart, Redbus and MakeMyTrip). But, while it might be the technology and startup capital of India, does it measure up to the rest of world as well? Is Bangalore internationally recognized as a startup hub? Last week’s Startup Festival certainly intends to make that happen. The Indian Express reports:
“Bangalore Rises”, says the tagline of the festival, in a city where entrepreneurship has been visibly on the climb recently. The festival organisers hope to add this event to the global roster of successful annual startup events such as South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, the Launch Festival in San Francisco and TechCrunch Disrupt in New York.
“When people want to make a life as an actor, they land in Mumbai. Similarly, anybody who wants to be an entrepreneur has to head to Bangalore,” said Shashi Kiran, associate director of The Indus Entrepreneurs’ (TiE) Bangalore chapter and a co-anchor for the festival. The festival’s goal is to take the startup culture to the streets. From an event where those dressed in suits hold day-long schmoozing sessions at a stuffy venue, the organisers transformed it into a “friendly neighbourhood gala”. Fittingly, entry into the event was by wearing the event T-shirt that cost Rs 899.
Many other media reports of the event report that the startup ecosystem in Bangalore is beginning to mirror Silicon Valley, with people from all over India and the world moving there to start new companies, work with startups, write about startups and much more. It is especially interesting to see how the festival is promoting entrepreneurship not only as a career, but as a ‘lifestyle’, as Startup Festival co-organizer Vlad Dubovskij says.
In many ways, it seems like Bangalore is the go-to place for aspiring startups, like how Mumbai is the place that all aspiring actors aim for. Internationally, however, it’s rating as a hub for startups has fallen from 9th place in early 2012 to 19th place by the end of last year.
But this fall in ratings really doesn’t seem to deter people, and many feel that Bangalore remains the best destination to start a new company, including RedBus founder Phanendra Sama and startup blogger Prateek Panda. According to them, Bangalore is continuing to build both the supportive infrastructure as well as the networks of mentors, investors, and of course the community of entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs that creates the kind of energy that makes Silicon Valley so successful.
But even while Bangalore continues to grow, other hubs are emerging around the country, most notably Hyderabad, New Delhi, Pune and Kochi. So what does that mean for my Bangalore-Bombay analogy? Hopefully that Bangalore isn’t going to have the kind of monopoly over entrepreneurship (however vibrant the ecology might be) as Mumbai has had in the film industry.