Bengaluru has been a witness to a silent revolution in the past few years and “Start-up Bengaluru” has been the buzzword for several years now among the IT literate and tech savvy. The start-up revolution that started a couple of years ago is now poised to get into its second and bigger stage. Bengaluru is home to roughly over 1,700 start-up initiatives, and some of the start-up stories can be termed “fortune changers” for several thousands of enthusiastic entrepreneurs — many with dreams that they could be the next Mark Zuckerberg or home-grown Rohit Bansal whose Flipkart operates out of nearly a dozen offices in the city’s Koramanagala area in Bengaluru, also popularly called the start-up district.
If it was the IT sector with software majors like Infosys, Wipro and many others who managed to put Bengaluru on the international map, it is now the contribution of thousands of start-ups — which has been big –that has made the city finally getting recognised as the “Start-Up capital” of the country.
Bengaluru, the start-up hub, is now excited about the “Invest Karnataka 2016” event. The event, an initiative of the Karnataka government to woo industry captains from across the globe, maybe targeted as an event for brick and mortar companies, but there are some delegates who are lining up business meetings with young start-up entrepreneurs to explore investment avenues.
As global majors and delegates from across the world descend, there are many in the StartUp city waiting with baited breath to seize potential investment opportunities and to pitch their development. Miraj, a 32-year-old young start-up entrepreneur, is busy giving finishing touches to an app-based food delivery company and has got two potential investors who will create time to also understand and explore investment in his development. “I am excited as at the moment I don’t wish to share the details with media, but am confident that these industry captains are planning to make some personal investments,” Miraj told The Sunday Guardian. The start-ups have been some of the biggest investment generators in the past few years to the city.
Their success stories are acknowledged by the Karnataka government, the organisers of “Invest Karnataka 2016”. The very fact that “Invest Karnataka 2016” has slotted a dedicated session, “Promoting Start-Up Culture in Manufacturing Sector”, is a clear indicator that the spirit of innovation and collaboration which is the hallmark of the sector also becomes a learning for others. “We cannot forget the contribution of these young start-up entrepreneurs. They have firmly placed Bengaluru on the global map and we want them to share their skills and expertise during Invest Karnataka 2016,” Gaurav Gupta, IAS, Commissioner for Industrial Development & Director of Industries and Commerce, government of Karnataka, told The Sunday Guardian.
In recent years, some of the start-ups have caught the imagination of corporate honchos who invest in them. While many from the IT sector background like Nandan Nilekani, Mohadas Pai and others have set up investment platforms to support innovative companies, even others are enthused by the potential of high returns that some of these start-ups offer. It may be recalled that Ratan Tata, who picked up a sizeable stake in Ola, has triggered many other such personal investments.
Bengaluru’s start-up stories were usually canned to or restricted initially to coffee tables or pubs in the Koramangala area where notes are usually exchanged. However, these innovations and success stories came to light when Bengaluru start-up Flipkart became a household name across the country. The rapid growth of the E-tailer and its success in the business made people believe that “India Can” and especially “Bengaluru Can”.
The way Flipkart stood up to the Amazon challenge encouraged many young start-up entrepreneurs to go ahead and fulfill their dreams. Riding high on the recognition, many other startups are being noticed by the global investors.
Bangalore has to its credit some of the most interesting start-ups which have revolutionised the way India does business.
The Ola Cabs transformed urban travel, ZoomCar gave the steering to those who did not own cars they desired.
BigBasket gave shopping convenience with supermarket offers without having to be in the city traffic and Swiggy just modernised the food ordering business. The common factor being that all the four start-up success stories mentioned above have their origins in Bengaluru.
Hari Menon, CEO of BigBasket, is a household name in the city with thousands of homes depending on his team to deliver their groceries to them every day. His start-up BigBasket.com is the perfect amalgamation of how the business of a brick-and-mortar grocery store chain can be multiplied using an app. Hari Menon is looking forward to “Invest Karnataka 2016”with excitement. Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, he said, “Our business model involves family members, as grocery purchases are never individual decisions. We bring new users to App culture as many homemakers experience app-shopping for the first time on our app.” This is what Bengaluru is all about as it provides not just innovator start-up entrepreneurs, but also provides a consumer base which is willing to experiment with these applications. BigBasket’s success story from Bengaluru is now ready to roll out to the rest of the country, especially Tier 2 cities in the country.
Former Infosys Director turned angel investor and venture capitalist Mohandas Pai is a strong believer in Bengaluru’s Midas touch. Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Pai said: “The city offers a very conducive atmosphere and a huge talent pool to support innovative ideas. These youngsters get the requisite resources in Bengaluru. That is the biggest strength of the city.”
While there have been several success stories, the city’s crumbling infrastructure is a concern. Thankfully, due to the fresh initiatives of the Siddharamaiah government, the issue is being addressed on a war footing. The city recently got a dedicated minister for Bengaluru Development. Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Chief Minister Siddharamaiah said,
“The appointment of K.J. George as Bengaluru in-charge minister clearly shows my commitment to the people, especially the industry. We have drawn up plans to improve connectivity by building dedicated East-West and North-South corridors of elevated roads. Metro work is being pushed faster and the neglect of the city by previous governments is being addressed.” While some of the issues are getting the attention of the government, there are some more which will need to be addressed, but the IT capital of the country, also rated as the second fastest growing city in the world, is poised for a new transition phase. One can say it is ready to Start-Up again.