Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Startup is hard in New Delhi

Reading Paul Graham is compulsory for anyone who aspires to be a startup guy. Anything Paul writes these days becomes popular, getting heavy circulation on the social bookmarking circuit. I like essayists who have actually lived what they are writing about, like Thoreau.

Back in May this Year, Paul Graham gave a talk titled, 'How American are Startups?', where he touts the aspects that make America the #1 haven for startups.

He says,
Could you recreate Silicon Valley elsewhere? With the right 10,000 people, yes. It used to be that geography was important, but now it's having the right people. You need two kinds of people to create a start-up: rich people and nerds.

Let's put that to test in New Delhi. It is a rich place alright. New Delhi and the suburbs are a place of wheelers and dealers, of people who got rich by access to the who's who in Central Government. It is a place of traders, Pepsi and Coke Franchisers, mall and realty operators and most recently BPO startups. It is city of shopkeepers.

On the tech intellectual side, there is just the IIT and a couple of other tech teaching shops supplemented by hordes of non-affiliated tech coaching centers. All these guys want to code for BPO champs Infosys, Wipro, Satyam and likes. They don’t want no startups here unless you are funded in millions by your favorite uncle. Guy Kawasaki, please note, team building is not so romantic here.

I must stop before all this turns to rant that is agonizing to read. I have to admit it – I have been trying to induct some php, mysql, CSS and Java knowledge into my small startup but all the available talent has gone to big firms or to Bangalore. Those that remain, are the fresh MCAs (useless course, no creativity) and the slow coders.

McKinsey recently reporetd that only 15% of passouts from India's professional collegs are employable. To make my startup plans happen, I will now have to retrain fresh coders, meaning time and money – valuable startup commodities. However, I am afraid that once fully trained, the talent does not stay at small firms. Employee bonds are not easily enforced in India.

So, I am left with the choice of either shifting to Bangalore and start hunting for talent again, although I suspect I will come short there, the capital of India’s software boom – who will want to work for a scrappy startup?

Maybe Paul Graham is right. America is indeed startup capital of the world. However differently, ripe with his evangelical Silicon Valley goodness, Guy Kawasaki may think.


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At 2:01 PM , Blogger tarun said...

There seems to be an implicit assumption that the 'founding team' doesn't have enough coding firepower to build a working prototype by itself.
1. Maybe you need to add experienced people into your founding team.
2. If you add experienced people to your team, they may be working elsewhere initially as employees and maybe they need n't quit their jobs until a prototype is built and funding furnished.
3. I for one believe that plenty of good technical people exist in Delhi/NCR region for hire if not to join your founding team.

At 12:22 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

pramit ,
could you mail your id and contact number .As we are about to start our new venture venturesprings.com.I can discuss it with you.
Vikas Shah

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At 5:25 AM , Blogger trevelyan said...

Graham is a programmer himself. It sounds like you can't afford to pay other people to do development for you. So you will have to do it yourself.

Nothing wrong with this. Build your business to the point you have a revenue stream and then hire. Don't waste your time looking for investment.


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