Mumbai: Garage start-ups, or young start-ups which begin with very basic facilities, have become a countrywide phenomenon in the past 12-14 months, helped along by a growing ecosystem made up of networking forums such as BarCamps, OpenCoffee Clubs and Proto.in. The activity is fairly evenly spread across the country, but a few cities stand out as hubs. We profile three such hubs which are clear leaders and have in fact shaped the current start-up wave:
The city’s chaotic infrastructure aside, Bangalore remains the nerve centre for anything to do with innovation in technology. Most start-ups here naturally veer towards technology and the level of networking within this community is far superior to any other city in India.
For instance, while Mumbai or Delhi struggles to host a single BarCamp per year, Bangalore effortlessly hosts one nearly every quarter. Not surprisingly, BarCamps here have already moved to the next level in the form of BarCamp Collectives (self-interest groups within a camp).
The country’s financial capital is seen as a private equity stronghold, but actually now has more venture capitalists in residence than Bangalore. There is start-up activity of the technology kind but Mumbai’s big differentiator is consumer-oriented start-up business models. Whether it is a start-up being incubated at the Indian Institute of Technology in Powai or in a two-room apartment in Parel, the focus is on addressing the needs of the urban consumer, whether in the Internet and mobile space or health care. Networking within the start-up community is less frequent (it is a very busy city) but when it does happen, it is as vibrant as anywhere else.
Ironically, the country’s first Web 2.0 start-up networking forum was not born in Bangalore. It started in Delhi with the country’s first BarCamp. The Capital lost the lead very quickly after that and has struggled to keep BarCamps and other such gigs going in the city. What is important to note is that despite the obstacles or apathy, Delhi in fact has a fairly active start-up community that is skewed towards new business models in IT-enabled services. There is also a small but growing population in the Internet and telecom services space.