It may be boom time in Bangalore, but tech startups have to meet some testing challenges before they can even open their doors for business, says Saritha Rai.
Innovation is blossoming in India - and at the heart of the subcontinent's startup culture lies Bangalore. As the innovation ecosystem develops, tech professionals who left the country to study and work overseas are returning home to become entrepreneurs.
Even recent graduates from top global engineering and business schools are opting to start companies in Bangalore, which is seen as the prime destination for returnees.
Creating a company in the city has distinct advantages. Bangalore is perceived as a base for innovation. Historically, the success of Bangalore-based technology services outsourcing companies such as Wipro and Infosys, as well as the more recent valuations of online retailer FlipKart and mobile advertising network InMobi, has reinforced that image.
Bangalore has the most active funding and mentoring network among Indian cities, and links with Silicon Valley are strong. India's software hub also has the strongest tech talent pool among Indian cities.
But, as start-up activity accelerates, entrepreneurs are discovering that finding talent - a key ingredient to starting up - is tricky. Some of the hiring challenges are common to other Indian cities but Bangalore has many peculiarities all of its own.
Startup challenge 1. Competition for skills from established firms
Hiring for startups is challenging as young Indian graduates prefer big-name multinationals and brands. Also, candidates balk at working long hours, handling quick-changing situations and wearing multiple hats at startups.
Multinationals, Indian outsourcing companies and startups, all vie for the same talent. "It is challenging to secure the desired quality of new hires," says Bangalore-based Raj Chinai, principal partner, who focuses on early stage investments at IndoUS Venture Partners.
Some startups have found ways to work around this. Northwestern University alumnus Debabrata Bagchi who founded virtual simulation-based education products maker Sparsha Learning Technologies, in Bangalore in mid-2010, says startups are increasingly looking to tier-two Indian engineering colleges to fill hiring gaps.
"These graduates are hungry, willing to take chances and more amenable to startup working conditions," says Bagchi who has hired and trained a few.
Startup challenge 2. Finding non-tech talent
While tech talent is of good quality, startups often have a tougher time finding first-rate professionals in adjacent fields.
"There is a lack of high-quality professionals in fields such as legal, particularly, and accounting, who have worked for start-ups and understand what that's all about," says Anshuman Bapna, founder of startup Mygola.com, a personalised online travel planner. Sales and marketing is another area with scarce talent.
Startup challenge 3. Bangalore's infrastructure woes
Bangalore's infrastructure woes are well documented. Horrendous traffic, power outages, and poor connectivity have long been its bane. But entrepreneurs have learned to work around these challenges by...
Saritha Rai is an India-based journalist and commentator who covers technology, business and society from her ringside seat in Bangalore.