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Last updated: January 24, 2011 at 11:09 am

Silicon Valley to Bangalore – Reverse brain drain in start-ups this time?

Recently I was reading an article regarding individuals who went to study in US years ago finally returning to India to transform the startup ecosystem in this country. I couldn’t help but smile and wonder at the number of such articles I have read in recent years. People have spoken about reverse brain drain, some have spoken about the labour and cost arbitrage in India and that’s why you see everything outsourced from their shores to ours while many others have just spoken about giving back to their motherland.

Reverse Brain Drain India

But the question is beyond all these stories and patriotic brouhaha, are people really coming back? Probably there may not be any real figures to indicate that. But it has been said that the number of students going to US has dipped to one of its lowest in the years of the recession and this coupled with the recession leading to an unemployment rate of more than 9% hasn’t helped matters greatly.

This has interestingly coincided with the growth of the Indian economy to about 9% where inflation was a much bigger problem rather than recession. So who knows, reverse brain drain may be really happening this time.

But the interesting part is that the individuals who were mentioned in the article haven’t really joined any big corporate firms. Instead they have started their own firms in sectors as diverse as corporate social networking and biotechnology. They may not have much knowledge about the way the Indian system works. But this hasn’t deterred them to jump into the ocean of corruption, bureaucracy and corporate wars head on. To all of us I am sure, these are some of the things which one needs to always take care off while working in a corporate or running any business in the country.

Some like Naveen Tiwari who co-founded InMobi, the world’s second largest advertising network are from top schools like Harvard while others like Mallikarjun Sundaram of Mitra Biotech have the experience of running a research company in the US and came to India to improve R & D at lower costs.

But all these individuals have a commonality in the vision they see of India that is having many small sized Silicon Valley firms in the next couple of years. With labour costs still very low, the English language knowledge and fluency still very strong despite competition from Philippines and China, India’s position is surely better than the best.

India is also set to be the world’s R & D hub in different sectors over the next many years. With a booming economy and better work culture, these individuals realise that this is the best time to hop on to the Indian bandwagon without any further delay. Though they have experience of running organizations in the US, India is a completely different ball–game. As they say, one can understand the Indian consumer only when he / she goes into the market. And that’s what these wannabe entrepreneurs have to do if they don’t wish to be the run–of–the–mill ones.

Looking forward to hearing your views on this…


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  • Yes,this is true and lot of people started realizing the potential of future India. That is the reason I started my venture http://www.dealsbuy.in in India.

  • Its not just about startup being shifted to India. To me, India, itself has a growing market (population & penetration of broadband might be providing the huge potentia) towards specific E-commerce OR Saas based venture. Online Matrimonial site & real estate is one of them Had written about some of them in my blog. http://indian-amps.blogspot.com/2010/10/small-is-beautiful-e-commerce-way.html http://indian-amps.blogspot.com/2010/12/small-is-beautiful-e-commerce-way-part.html

  • Yes really i hope to see many many many startup opening and changing the corruption fundas also in india.. Punching the corrupt peoples who stop the enterper… in moving forward ;-)

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