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The Next Silicon Valley – Pune or Chennai or ?

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I am part of the crowd that believes that Bengaluroo is not the silicon valley of India!

Bengaluru has many IT services companies and has probably reached a saturation level that its quite difficult for it to become a valley anymore. The service “culture” has set in and it is difficult to change that aspect of the city.

If not Bengaluroo, Which other city can come close to become a Valley?

The purpose of this post is  to have a healthy debate on which city has better prospects of becoming the next silicon valley of India (I am sure there would be one in 2020 :. )We are not going to arrive on a conclusion anytime sooner though !!

siliconvalley

Do give a read on Paul Graham’s how to be silicon valley – My humble opinion is that all things mentioned there might not be applicable to Indian culture and setup as such, but attributes like need for “nerd” community and private angels are mandatory as elaborated in the article.

Without debating too much on that article let me  jump on to what we have and prospective Silicon Valleys in India.

For me, only 2 cities really come to my mind – Pune and Chennai !

Pune

Off late there is a lot of buzz about pune and its growing community of entrepreneurs. Home of returning NRI’s and new IT parks bolsters that assumption. Lets look at some of the positives that could help Pune to gain the next Silicon valley status:

The Pune Positives

  • Excellent weather like California
  • Its Proximity to the financial Hub – Mumbai
  • Small town atmosphere
  • Great Tech Community – Pune Open Coffee Club has highest members in India

The Pune Negatives

  • Many good Colleges and Universities, but IIT / NIT Missing.
  • No previous success stories (may be they are on their way)
  • Bad Infrastructure ( Power, Roads, Internet Access etc)

Universities like IIT/NIT have greater exposure to research & funding and have greater chance of finding successful startups. I dont mean to say that other private colleges are not capable of starting one , but first league Universities have a edge. Pune is also in need of a success story to create a reputation for itself.

And most importantly, it needs to get Infrastructure in place, especially required for tech Startups – Decent Power, Internet Access and Infrastructure. Pune is really lagging behind here.

Chennai

Chennai on the other hand has a bigger student community in and around the IT belt. Guindy Engineering college- Anna university, IIT Madras, Chennai Mathematical institute are around 1-2Km radius from the IT highway. Apart from NRI’s the initial seed of people who will own a startup would probably come from this belt most.

Chennai Positives

  • good student community and popular universities
  • lesser hustle & bustle compared to other cities
  • cheaper rents and techies compared to other metros
  • success stories like ZOHO are making waves already

Chennai Negatives

  • The biggest spoiler – Terrible Weather
  • To a certain extent Language barrier in day to day living

Pondichery, which is around 1.5 hr drive from IIT-M is also a viable option and an alternative to Chennai’s hot weather. (Do I need to mention the night life there :p)

But, whatever the place , I firmly believe that the “tech community” is the lynchpin in making  a silicon valley. Rest all will follow  or comparatively easier to bring.

Some of the other places that came to my mind were :

Coimbatore  – Huge no.of Engineering colleges (both in TN and Kerala) around this place. Ooty is  about couple of hours away.

Ahmedabad   – Government is taking up a number of initiatives to build a vibrant tech community. It is also a business friendly place. So there is some buzz as of now.

These are just my thoughts, I may not be completely right, but those are my choices of the Next Silicon valley in India.

Whats your take on it?

[This guest post has been authored by our regular reader, Ganesan Vijay]

  1. Sushil Bhavsar says

    sillicon valley is best on hardware & networking knowlege The great ideal carrier.

  2. Abhishek Gupta says

    why not hyderabad.

  3. Abhishek Gupta says

    why not hyderabad.

  4. Achyuthan Sundarrajan says

    About time!!

    If there is one thing that deters Chennai from development in software sector, that’s the weather and then the language problem [that makes 2 things.:O]

    You can’t do anything about the weather, but the language is quite tolerable. I mean, there is always this Tamil-barrier with all other languages, but the bigger problem i see is the English spoken by software engineers in Chennai, Mumbai and Bangalore. The accents are totally influenced by the native tongue.

    And Coimbatore has a bright chance in this, because the weather is quite pleasant and the necessary workforce is easily available from the engineering colleges nearby. There is a TIDEL Park unveiled recently, and i think WIPRO and TCS are interested in having their own share of Kovai. There is already a CTS operation center in KCT, Coimbatore. So, if at all another IT hub emerges from TN, it’ll be Coimbatore.

    The other mahor problem i feel is the attitude of the people in Chennai [and to some extent in Kovai]. They prefer to work in Bangalore [and Pune. But they fear Mumbai. Wow!]. So far as i know, every friend of mine has a direct relative working in a software major in B’lore. So is the case with software engineers of some other states as well. So it’ll take a miracle to beat B’lore in the IT sector.

    But the coolest thing is the incentives offered by Tech parks in Chennai [and other parts of TN]. They’ll remain attractive forever. But the question is, if the sotware sector is to face another turndown [by recession or something] will the other hubs be ready to face a fall just like Bangalore did a couple of years ago??

    BTW: What does Ooty have to do with helping Coimbatore become an IT hub??

  5. Aditya says

    I think Pune’s political will power is very less as compared to Bangalore or Chennnai whatever may be the reasons..

    And as to the list of good points about Bangalore Abhijit has made, numerous good points can be found on the web about other cities also.
    And it seems that Abhijit has conveniently overlooked the bad things about Bangalore.

  6. Abhijit says

    Have a look at Bangalore’s IT infrastructure and future plans. 1) Currently houses more than 3000 software companies. 2) Houses product based giants like google, yahoo, adobe, mcafee, symantec, Microsoft, Intel, amd etc. 3) 42 percent of india’s software exports (earlier 38 percent) come from bangalore. 4) A new word called “bangalored” was added to the english dictionary which means anybody who loses a job due to outsourcing. 6) Houses around 70 engg colleges are premier institutions like IISC, IIM. 7) A mega IT suburb of 50 sq km in the north of bangalore is under construction. This will provide direct employment to 2.2 million people and indirect employment to 1.8 million people. 7) over 300 km of metro, mono, and high speed rail has been planned. Construction on many routes have begun and few and nearing completion. 8) houses govt organizations like DRDO, ISRO, HAL, NAL, DARE etc.

  7. senthil says

    A major section of the IT folks in Bangalore are from TamilNadu. If Chennai becomes a IT hub(as it has become) the TN people in Bangalore are more likely to return back to TN(Chennai). So Chennai is more likely to become the silicon valley. But I’m afraid that the govt is incapable of handling such a growth.

  8. devender says

    YOU better correct your sentance mentioned in the very first line … i.e
    I am part of the crowd that believes that Bengaluroo is not the silicon valley of India!.
    every one knows that bagalore(Bengaluru) is the ‘silicon valley of India’
    and it will be there ….
    You better see the futur bagalore and the development which are being done in bangalore.

  9. Shaan says

    This article is surprising as already Chennai is the second biggest IT location in India after Bangalore. And this comparison was done long ago in 2000 between Bangalore and Chennnai. At that time both were neck to neck.

  10. RS says

    Weather should not be considered as growth hindrance factor. As said singapore has the same weather as Chennai – Sultry and humid. All the more for that matter all gulf countries like Dubai, Abhudhabi have horrible weather conditions…but growth is not hampered , still they attract huge amount of investements & talents from all over the world.

    One of the problem with Chennai’s growth is biased informations that are floating on the websites, about the people, weather, Hindi Knowledge etc.
    But all these guys who bash on Chennai are ready to adjust and work in other countries where the same kind of situation prevails (more money indeed)… whole world does not speak Hindi right.

  11. Mannaran says

    I strongly disagree regarding weather factor. Yes it is sultry and sweats immediately, but it may not be a factor for “Silicon Valley”. This year we had the worst summer in Bangalore. Pondicherry has milder weather than Chennai, but still cannot be compared to Bangalore. Chennai climate matches with that of Singapore, which is not preventing it from attracting talents and kicking off companies. I am not comparing Chennai and Singapore on par, but suggesting weather factor may not have the impact in formation of a silicon valley kind of city. Rather Chennai has some of the nice beaches and decent night life. And Pondi is just 3 hours away. :)

    Regarding language, it is agreed that it is mainly local language. This might discourage more diverse population to settle down and try something new in the city(Obviously limited supply of talent). Again, this won’t be a major factor. As most of the entrepreneurship aspire-rs, will know some decent English, it can be a wonderful common language.

    Chennai has some real disadvantages like,
    1. Power problem at outskirts, where rent is cheap.
    2. Rigid workforce where attrition is less.
    3. Bad work culture compared to other cities, where employees of small companies work for 6 days and for near 10 hour for each day.
    4. No big product companies as in Bangalore or Hyderabad.

    In my opinion, Chennai is already big, known for auto, HW production, and it is a port city. Even if SW exports exceeds that of other cities, it is highly likely that it will not be called as a silicon valley.

    1. VJ says

      Mannaran..I agree with the weather factor..But some of the other disadvantages u mentioned abt chennai are actually quite a bit advantageous ..like
      rigid workforce – u wud be able to get good workforce for comparitively lesser pay..and u can retain ppl.this is very very essential for a startup
      bad work ethics – working harder is quintessential for any startup…..ya u shud be working smarter too..so i dont see a problem with this culture

      No big products in chennai – that makes it even better…otherwsie u will loose ur employees to bigger brand names :)

      1. Mannaran says

        When I wrote the disadvantages, I was thinking about an environment, which is conducive to very small budging start ups(pre-angel and angel level).

        Now, with that view, why thought they were disadvantageous
        Rigid workforce – This means less colleagues who do leave companies and do experimentation. This, even though cannot stop the motivated, will not be an ideal condition. To be ready to lose a job, one should see lot of availability of jobs and confidence that one can come back to get a anytime and networks friends working in different companies.

        Bad work ethics – You will know it better that it creates hatred towards the job and no innovations happens inside the company. Employee would come out of his company and would like to forget about his job. Good amount of the ideas for start ups comes from work environment. This kills that.

        No big product companies – Means less ideas in the mind share of the employees of that particular city. Goes with above reasoning.

        But I guess, your reasoning suits well, if we consider a demography of companies, where post-angel, pre-VC, VC funded start ups are numerous.

        So, this is interesting and looks not so straight forward, with a time component in it.

        Good thought anyways. Your blog is translated in Tamil and I came here from

        http://thatstamil.oneindia.in/news/2009/09/24/tn-the-next-silicon-valley-pune-or-chennai.html

        1. VJ says

          I understand ur point as well Mannaran!!
          Its quite tough to determine where we can get the community..it depends on lot of things like…students,mentors,success stories.

          Hmm translated in tamil ? sounds intersting..
          Arun..it was done after getting permission from you ? i dont see trakin URL even..

  12. subu says

    We should also be talking about sustenance of a silicon valley in India and I don’t think India is ready yet. A place like Silicon valley thrives because it keeps coming up periodically with awesome breakthrough technologies. These are a consequence of the amazingly funded research being done in the US universities, say Stanford, UCB etc.. Though we have awesome undergrad univs in India, we need more univs like IISc which are research focussed (or improve the research in existing undergrad univs).
    I think our HRD is still focussed on spreading education to the masses (which is quite valid) but it will take some time where our government can focus on improving research in our universities.

  13. Karan says

    Hi Arun

    I feel Chennai still has the edge over Pune.Already known as the “Detroit of India” TamilNadu houses more automobile industries than anywhere else in the country.ELCOT has already identified and set up zones for IT companies to function in the near future.Chennai,Mahabalipuram,Tiruchy,Salem,Coimbatore and Madurai are identified as Hot Spots.Pune however will remain the Education Hub.Hyderabad and Cochin are also very good IT zones.

    Regards
    Karan

  14. suchi says

    reading the article reminds me of a argument I had in my college days in 2000. During that year, Blr software exports grew by around 20-30% and HYD and Chennai exports grew by around 50-80%. So my senior (from HYD) said it is matter of time, around 5 yrs before HYD and Chennai overtakes Blr as silicon valley of India. Now, after 10 yrs, i guess Blr still the leader by far. I guess weather and its cosmopolitan nature will save it. Mumbai, Delhi and Blr are the only cosmo cities. In rest of cities, 90-95% population is locals. U dont feel at home there like Blr

  15. Sriram Vadlamani says

    Bangalore is still holding the fort. Not sure why though. This is just a gut feel. Infrastructure sucks, public transportation sucks, services and customer care sucks but weather doesn’t suck. In fact it is farther than suck.

    There is something about the city which says that this is it.

    I suggest a litmus test to check if your city is the silicon valley.

    See if you can bargain on vegetables. If at least one part of the city allows you to bargain on vegetables then it is not ready yet. If there is no bargaining across the city then you are living in a silicon city.

    1. Arun Prabhudesai says

      I tend to disagree – Although I get your point Sriram that overall things have to improve (that comment about vegetable bargain), I think for a Silicon Valley to be there – if you are rich in 2 resources it is very much possible – Talented People a.k.a Entrepreneurs and Good Infrastructure. Aha…how can I forget weather :)

      Yes, there needs to be a Entrepreneurial support system in place, setting up business has to be easier – but those are global factors.

      1. VJ says

        I think the gut feeling is because of the amt of techies around in bangalore.
        I dont get the “vegetable bargain” funda..Through out India you can bargain vegetables…

  16. Mithun John Jacob says

    What about Kochi(Cochin) ?

    Positives :

    1. Educated(or over educated !) folks.
    2. Easy access by air, water or road.
    3. Cheaper rents
    4. Cosmopolitan atmosphere.
    5. Huge capital investment available. (Thanks to NRIs !)

    Negatives:

    1. Infrastructure bottlenecks.
    2. ???

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