I came across this excellent interview published in New America Media, where he expresses confidence that the next Google will come from a small town in India rather than traditional entrepreneurial hotspots like Silicon Valley, Mumbai or Bangalore.
Here are some excerpts from that interview:
So can India produce its own Google?
If you ask me, "Will those who started the industry and have taken it to its present size – firms like TCS (Tata Consultancy Services), Infosys, Wipro, can they be the ones to do the kind of Google creative work?" The answer is no. In fact, Google was not created by a large firm, it was a startup.
Now, if you ask whether someone else might do that in India, and who that will be, well I have an answer that will probably surprise you. I think it will come not from Silicon Valley inspired startups, although several of those have been formed and are doing fairly innovative work, but catering mostly to the global markets. It will come when India’s local market reaches a certain level of maturity, and it’ll come from a small town. It won’t come from Bangalore or Bombay, Delhi, or one of those cities.
Why do you think it will come from a small town?
What’s happened in India over the last decade has been this immense burst of entrepreneurial energy being unleashed. It’s being unleashed at the local level. If you ask me about Bombay, I would say yes, there are local entrepreneurs, but really, Bombay, Delhi and so on are being driven by larger firms, which because of the advantages of scale and access to political connections, have grabbed most of the lucrative businesses.
But small firms are starting to do well now in towns like Varanasi, Indore, and Lucknow. The largest city where you could say such work is going on would be Pune. What you’re seeing there is that they are looking at local problems and saying, "Yes, we have a solution for this." So, they are right now developing products and services for the local market but the Indian local market is still fairly unsophisticated.
It’s getting there. In certain areas such as airline, telephone, and cell phone services India is becoming quite sophisticated. Those would be the areas where you will start seeing a fairly sophisticated product and service.
I can give you one example. Indore is a small town by Indian standards, a very poor town, 2 million people, relies on soybean trading. You wouldn’t think Indore would be a bastion for software product development, but when I visited it, the first thing that struck me was when I spoke at a university, was how highly qualified the faculty was. And then speaking to students: how well trained they were. Even though their language was mostly Hindi and not English, they all used Google with complete fluency.
So, I asked, "Are there any software companies here?" and they said, "Are there any? There are fifty software companies that export services to the United States." So I visited a few.
One of those that struck me was a product software company that makes cell phone software. What they had developed was downloadable software which allowed you to play in the background your religious music, but also taught you the various movements for different kinds of prayers: gender specific, sect specific, just amazing, the range. I said, "Wow, you must be having a tremendous market in India." They said, "No — really our market is overseas. We sell our cell phone software primarily in Southeast Asia, and the Middle East, because that’s where the capability to pay is higher. Of course, we sell in India as well."
I asked him, "Why did you choose this?"
He said, with a twinkle in his eye, I think, "People often download free software in India, but with religious software, they’re a little more careful." [ full interview here ]
What do readers think?
Will the next Google come from India like Mr. Dossani thinks?