Ecosystem rankings 2012

Silicon Valley in India- Possible reality or Marketing pipe dream?

Silicon Valley is perhaps the world’s greatest startup ecosystem which the entire world is trying to emulate. The efforts of the countries are mapped in this fabulous Startup Ecosystem map –


Ecosystem rankings 2012

According to the Startup Ecosystem map, Bangalore is listed on the 19th position from among the 20 cities under consideration.

This begs the question to be asked – How is India doing on the front of the Startup ecosystem building? Not very well on any Global metric apparently.

Here are three big reasons why India very badly needs a Startup Ecosystem –

1. Massive educated workforce churned out by Universities – Every year we see such huge numbers among the work force churned out by Indian colleges – not only engineering but science, commerce etc

2. Relatively larger uncertainties for bigger companies – Given the retrenchment going on in many sectors, it won’t be wrong to say that Startups will provide employment to a larger audience than before.

3. Exciting opportunities with potentially larger impact – At a startup, there would be a greater opportunity to create an impact as compared to a smaller company.

Given this, is India missing a huge marketing opportunity by NOT making a city like Bangalore or Pune a Startup Hub?

I certainly think so. Given the huge fillip that IT has given to Bangalore or Pune or Gurgaon or Hyderabad – local Governments should be literally jumping at the opportunity at creating a startup ecosystem. It has the potential to attract the best talent from the globe to that city and more importantly is a better way to collect sustainable and ever growing revenue. Look at the model that the state of California built for itself with the Silicon Valley. While it is true that the state was blessed to have minds like Steve Jobs and Sergey Brin, the fact is the California and US Government also played a small but important part in the Silicon Valley development.

Look at Tel Aviv – In 2009, Israel had more IPOs on the NASDAQ than China , India and Russia combined. Thats a telling statistic. If Israel can do it, so can a focussed approach from a country like India, with the abundance of talented people .

To Quote the article –

Highly advanced ecosystem and bustling with tech companies

– In 2009, 63 Israeli companies were listed on the tech-orientated NASDAQ – more than from Europe, Japan, Korea, India, and China combined

– Almost every major tech company today has some kind of subsidiary in Israel: Intel, Microsoft, Google and Cisco etc.

– 39% of Israeli high-tech employees work in the R&D departments of multinational companies

  • Closing fast on Silicon Valley due to risk-taking nature

Given all of this, it may seem as if India has already fallen behind . What is the best foot forward to build a Silicon Valley in India? Have any opinions? Let us know!

Source for diagrams and quotes: Telefonica digital

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Marketing, Technology, Web

Quora, the Valley and the buzz its getting

Quora is a QnA site that is getting a lot of buzz at the moment. My profile on the site is can be accessed here. I would say that Quora is a Web 2.0 version (of sorts) of Wikipedia, with a lot of users trying to continuously evolve the site to make it better for users. The site describes itself as

‘A continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it.’

This isn’t much different from Wikipedia – which describes itself as

Wikipedia is a free, web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project. ts 17 million articles (over 3.5 million in English) have been written collaboratively by volunteers around the world, and almost all of its articles can be edited by anyone with access to the site.’

The tech blogs and early adopters of the Valley are pretty influential characters which evangelize such budding products extremely aggressively. Look at the coverage this site is getting on Tech blogs – Its absolutely amazing how the Silicon valley ecosystem picks up a product that has some muscle and propels it in such a way that it would seem incredulous that a person mildly interested in something new and cool hasn’t yet created an account on this site yet! While I am not aware of the market dynamics in China, I am pretty certain that this ecosystem created in the valley can’t be found anywhere else in the world – not even in India. Infact in India, there are a lot of good products coming up, but are simply not getting traction from early adopters / influencers.

Coming back to Quora, The one thing I like about the whole website is the ability to follow topics . Going ahead, such topics can become excellent one-stop destinations for a student to learn whats happening in a specific subject. For example, I am following more than 30 topics there already and those include Product Management, Sequoia etc.

The real question though is how will Quora tackle spam? Already, I am seeing a lot of answer-gaming on that site. People putting generic answers and then getting upvoted by their colleagues in order to get traffic to their profile has started. A lot of QnA sites face these problems – tackling spammers/trolls etc isn’t a trivial task at all. Having seen Yahoo Answers, Rediff QnA etc for many years now, I can vouch for this – correctly spotting stuff that someone is looking for becomes tougher with every passing day on the site. In that sense, what Wikipedia has achieved is remarkable, they have managed to keep their system sane (more or less) even after 10 years. I think that is going to be a critical success factor for Quora going ahead.

To conclude, I admire the site right now and how the ecosystem in the Valley is promoting it heavily ( like it did previously for foursquare, twitter, facebook, amazon etc) . This surely is one site to watch for in 2011.

PS: Firstly, A belated Happy new year to all our readers on . Hope that we would write a LOT more on Strat this year – I on my part, shall try my best! Check out how I am promoting on the back of my car and have a nice chuckle!

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Entrepreneurship, Politics

The Start Up Visa

USA-startup-visaIts 2010 and as we step into the next decade, Business and Technology remain the scale of measuring the overall strength of any country. Though jaw-dropping start ups keep coming forward from the dorm rooms and garages of the Silicon Valley, investors in US are worried that the  government is not doing enough to entice entrepreneurs to stay.

So the US congress is now considering what can be called as a ‘start-up Visa’. A visa for foreign born “techies” who have good ideas, so that they can stay ‘in’ US and continue working on them. This is especially valid for foreign students who drop out of school to found their own companies. It is particularly hard for them to get visas and continue in the valley, and US is aware of its losing ground if it doesn’t encourage smart brains from India and China to stay within.

The visa also aims at attracting foreign capital. So if your business plan is good enough to attract $250,000 through Venture Capital or $100,000 as angel funding, or shows prospects of creating 5-10 jobs and around $1Mn in revenue, then you are eligible and up for the visa. Such visas are already in place in Canada, UK and Australia and US knows the importance of funding the founders if it does not want to give away any advantage to one of these.
But the point to ponder upon is, if US, with all that it is, is thinking so seriously and taking steps to attract talent, imagine what steps India is going to have to take to at least retain its talent. The reforms from 1991 have provided the fuel for entrepreneurs to pick themselves up without licensing hassles, but do we have a government that is worried about start ups in India?

According to Dr Venkatraman, Indian born US based 2009-Nobel Prize winner, if India does not invest in the facilities that support long term research now, it is going to find itself 10-20 years behind in harnessing technology for better benefits.

We have one of the most, if not the most, competitive educational systems in the world. But it is also true that most of the smart brains are showing all their competitive spirit in India and Creativity outside it!

There is indeed a lot of activity going on in the start up incubators in India. Loads of VC funding and a build up of an entrepreneurial ecosystem with foundations like NEN, but we seem to miss godfathers like Andy Bechtolsheim and Mike Markkula coming ahead to mentor the Google’s or Apple’s of tomorrow.

With the Indian population all set to hit 1.5 Bn by 2020, the Indian market and economy is essentially going to piggyback on the ability of future job creators. The ecomonic reforms from 1991 have provided the fuel for entrepreneurs to pick themselves up without licensing hassles and red tape , now it is the turn for our educational reforms to pick up soon enough to catapault innovation and R&D. Are outdated rotten courses going to make way for a fast changing and flexible course systems that incorporate iphone and Android apps on the go ?

Image credits 1

PS: Click here if you wish to know more about the visa.

Click here if you think something has to be done about our educational system!

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