Will Delhi startups outsource tech to Bangalore?

Delhi NCR seems to have emerged as one of the strongest startup ecosystems in the country. From internet to mobility and ITES/BPO/KPO, the quality of startups is compelling. However, of late, there has been a view that the tech ecosystem is not keeping pace. I was having a chat with a friend, who pointed out the following “facts”:

  • HasGeek is been doing some amazing work in tech events…they are probably the leaders in the tech. events space. They tried NCR couple of times and now have written off. I’m trying to work with them to bring some of their events in NCR.
  • In50Hrs has written of Delhi. They did 2 events and now have moved to Trivandrum.
  • MobileHackday – a hackathon done recently at one of the companies in gurgaon did not attract many people…they had to close the event and did not even have the jury members to come and look at the prototypes.
  • At Startup Weekend Delhi, there are around 12-14 ideas presented…atleast 8 teams present a powerpoint presentation and probably 4 present a prototype…Bangalore is just the opposite.
  • Some startups have started moving the tech. base to Bangalore :)

I have not checked with respective organizations mentioned above, but will take this at face value given the credibility of the person who mentioned the above. Also, given the spread of events, I am making an assumption that this is not a reflection on quality of individual events. I also do not view this as a notion of delhi versus bangalore, but more an issue around the depth of tech ecosystem in delhi area, and whether it is growing stronger or weaker. I say “tech ecosystem” not in the semiconductor research sense, but typical depth that startups are relying on (application/ systems level).

In fact, the other thread it sparked in my mind was cultural and cutting across the country – are we propagating a culture of startup formation that relies on learning from the community and widespread exchange of ideas? That could be the other reason where founders and their teams might be putting their heads down and building their business, rather than throng events.

Would love to get comments on this. And if this is a real issue, what can we do about it.

15 Responses to “Will Delhi startups outsource tech to Bangalore?”

  1. krish says:

    Having lived in Delhi through the late 80′s and early 90′s and being a frequent visitor (to catch up with old pals) to the city, I can say this about Delhi with some authority.

    Delhi can never do a Bangalore or even Bombay because -

    a) It remains a political hub than a business hub. You need to be somebody of somebody to get things going, especially for raising funds from Banks or getting some real estate deal done. It certainly is not a meritocracy.

    b) Delhi’s fixation with Hindi is overwhelming, to the point of being hostile to other languages and cultures – even the college students don’t speak in English (Just travel by Metro and count the number of students speaking English). Bangalore and Bombay has a culture of accepting external talent with open arms. They even speak their language – Kannada/Marathi shop owners speak Hindi/English or at least they understand. But in Delhi, an outsider will have to learn Hindi because the local will never adapt himself to a different tongue.

    c) Food habits play an important role. When you’re in Delhi and are in the habit of having an early breakfast, better limit your choice to Paranthas. You just can’t get a decent Udipi / South Indian breakfast from a neibhorhood outlet unless you stay in a hotel with a restaurant. Startup founders hailing from outside can hardly live with that kind of resistance to change.

    d) That said the best thing Delhi has is space and the fabulous yet cheap Metro, which are great pluses for a startup ecosystem. But then you need some English speaking talent to get up to speed.

  2. Shantanu says:

    I am an entrepreneur based out of Delhi and have to say, I feel Delhi is not a tech hub. My previous gig, we set up an outsourced tech team for an ecommerce play in Bangalore. Was insane to manage. Would not want to be multi-location for a while, not sure if it is scalable.

    Currently outsourcing tech, dont want to. The reason I did it, I could not imagine building a kick-ass tech team without impacting my speed to market, so better to outsource and atleast get a proof of concept done.

    If you think Delhi has enough Tech folks, prove it !! Help me find people for a kick-ass consumer engagement platform ;)


  3. Arvind Jha says:

    Let me add my 2c to the discussion.

    1. Founders in Delhi tend to be more mature and experienced – both in biz terms and dev expertise. Folks I know dont find much *value* in attending these events which are targeted at first time/young founders.

    2. Both HasGeek and Startup Centre have indicated that their own constraints on resources prevents them from doing events in Delhi. Perhaps a local outfit can fill the gap.

    3. The data about startup weekend is interesting. I was a jury member last year and brought this (lack of working prototypes) up with Pankaj Jain. He shrugged off the feedback and was ok that folks were building a biz idea as opposed to a working system. Like all organizations, the outcomes are driven by the leadership..I suspect that the leadership of SW BLR is more prototype focussed.

    4. Nasscom regional council is doing tech workshops in Noida, covering advanced concepts..they get 200+ folks to attend.

    As a startup or any other company, it is wise to outsource any task to where-ever the cost/benefit is optimal..in one of our companies, we are using a contractor in argentina to do some PCBA design.

    “Lack of events does not an ecosystem make or unmake” – with apologies to William bhai..

  4. Pankaj Jain says:

    Let’s all be honest. Delhi, on a macro level, is a city of traders and businessmen. People live in Delhi to do business. There’s never been a culture of building, experimenting or engineering. It’s a culture of making money (for good or for bad).

    Is there anything wrong with the fact that Delhites aren’t building tech businesses? It would probably be good for the local economy if it did but does it really matter? No one is building high-end switching equipment or chip fabrication facilities in NYC either. But look at the massive boom in the NYC tech scene in the last 5 years. It was non-existant when I moved to India in 2007 (IMHO, GA had a lot to do with it + having a tech savvy Mayor – Bloomberg and being the best city in the world :-) .

    Cities in India will, and should, develop very different ecosystems from each other. Each city has it’s specialty and will develop an ecosystem around that. Bangalore will continue to develop a hacker culture and Delhi will continue to be a city of “dhandhawallas”. I suspect, we will see more Delhi startups focused on media, content, ad-tech and many will move to Bangalore when they need real engineering.

    I half-jokingly tell people all the time that if we moved half of the hustlers in Delhi to Bangalore and moved half to the talented engineers to Delhi, we could have two cities to rival the best tech/startup ecosystems anywhere in the world.

    I firmly believe that if we want to create even the smallest hacker culture in Delhi/NCR, we need a cool space, good quality but inexpensive coffee, food and alcohol need to be in close proximity. The space needs to be right next to public transportation like the Metro (think downtown Palo Alto or downtown NYC). Finding a place like that in Delhi will cost multiple arms and legs.

    We also need local tech community leaders. We have startup community leaders in Delhi but NO tech leaders. Someone is going to have to manufacture them if we want tech talent to stay in Delhi.

    I’ll write a separate post about what I’m seeing at Startup Weekend across India since it might be too long to post as a comment.

  5. Ashish Mukherjee says:

    Delhi start-up scene has improved only in recent years. Number of techies had already moved out to Bangalore and settled there. That’s one of the reasons for Delhi losing its tech talent.

    I agree that conferences are not a true indicator. However, I’ve also noticed that there is a greater spirit of co-operation and helping each other among the start-ups in Bangalore, which is quite visible. The environment in which start-ups operate there appears more mature in comparison to Delhi because number of folks have had prior exposure working for product firms before they started their own.

    Hence, volume of tech talent is just one factor but there is also a stark qualitative difference which has an impact on the ecosystem.

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