Inside India’s Silicon Valley
14 November 2018
By Debbie Zaman, CEO, Withpr
As With builds to some exciting announcements in November, our team has a busy schedule of travel ahead. Whilst globe-trotting, we want to share some of our insights on tech and communications around the world.
First stop Bangalore.
Bangalore, or Bengaluru as it is now known to the world, is India’s Silicon Valley. Which is pretty impressive for the place once known as ‘Pensioners’ Paradise’. Its legacy was thanks in no small part to its temperate climate and garden city status, with not one but two world class botanical gardens and endless parks. Today, Bengaluru is a bustling, dynamic city which the world has its eye on.
The city has a long scientific and technological history. The army has its R&D base there and the Indian Institute of Science has been housed there since its foundation in 1909. More recently, Bengaluru in particular benefitted from the outsourcing of Y2K panic to Indian IT firms (thanks in no small part to the plethora of tech colleges in the city) and the IT firm Infosys, which is headquartered in the city, was the first Indian business to achieve listing on the NASDAQ.
Where careers in professional services, such as becoming a doctor or lawyer, were for a long time the number 1 aim for many Indian students and their families, engineering has for some time been top of the educational tree. One local contact I met with told me that the city has twice as many engineers as doctors. It is not just the lure of studying engineering, but also the fact that the city can then employ its graduates, with over 40% of all of India’s IT companies .
For this reason, the city is also attracting the best of India’s young tech talent from right around the country. With’s own HQ is based in Dalston and I have to say, there were some startling similarities… As well as being surrounded by huge cultural diversity from around the country, on my trip I visited a craft brewery, grabbed a taxi with Ola Cabs (HQ’d in Bangalore and worth $3billion) and hung out in Awfis, a funky Bangalore co-working space.
But rapid growth and soaring success are not without their challenges. Like Silicon Valley itself, the city is no longer one that is as accommodating to its former inhabitants as it once was. There are challenges with infrastructure: as I messaged one of my contacts that I would be late for a meeting, I received the reply on WhatsApp ‘not to worry, the traffic is almost as famous as the pollution in Bangalore’. Garbage too is a challenge. And house prices have become almost as much of an obsession as in London. Property prices are said to have increased 4 or more times in the last 10 years, pricing many out of the market.
But the beat of an Indian city is still loud and clear. From the never-ending beeps of the traffic to the bright lights signalling Divali and one of the warmest welcomes from locals you could imagine. It is a place where tech and tuk tuks go hand in hand. Bengaluru has a huge amount to offer both India and the world. I hope to be back soon.