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Bangalore's tech startup culture: Seven barriers that stand in the way of success

From infrastructure woes to finding talented staff...

...moving into office spaces with full power backups, signing on multiple internet providers, and using time spent in traffic - most medium to high-level professionals can afford chauffeurs - to catch up on phone calls and jot down notes.

"The city's workforce has a globalised, work-anywhere culture which gives startups a tremendous amount of flexibility," says V Bharathwaj, founder and CEO of MyndGenie Systems, a technology-based emotional wellness management company. MyndGenie has already started hiring while still looking for office infrastructure.

Startup challenge 4. High salary demands

Bangalore's talent has heavy financial commitments. That is, many young engineers need a certain minimum pay level for many years to come - even as many as 20 - because of down payments they have made on a new apartment or car.

The implications of this issue have to be taken seriously, says Bapna of Mygola.com. "There are many reasons why a 24-year old developer in India does that, besides property speculation."

Startup challenge 5. Engaging the right recruitment consultants

For Bangalore's startups, recruiters are not a waste of time. Especially when hiring the first bunch of technical resources, getting two or three recruitment consultants working on the task is useful. Bagchi's Sparsha Learning was all set to hire an architect-level employee when he developed cold feet and renegotiated his salary with his employer.

A recruiting consultant would have seen this problem coming, he says. But even with recruiters, his startup took months to get the first developer on board, Bagchi says.

Startup challenge 6. Hard cash, not stock options

Bangalore's tech talent does not buy into stock options. They want cold hard cash. Unlike staff in Silicon Valley, Bangalore employees have little faith in share ownership schemes. That's because they have never seen a friend or acquaintance hit the stock options jackpot. Barring one notable example - Infosys, nearly two decades ago - there have been no other instances of employees' making it big with stock options.

Startup challenge 7. Family pressures

When hiring, some startup founders have learned to ask potential hires what their parents or spouse thinks of the new venture. "I've had one or two promising candidates withdraw, and it became amply clear that they were not supported in their decisions by their folks," says Bapna who now asks upfront or even offers to meet the candidate's family.

Despite these travails, Bangalore is still the destination of choice for entrepreneurs. It is a city that's open to new ideas, fosters inventive thinking, and welcomes trial and experimentation. "For companies charting new paths, there is no better place than this," says Bharathwaj of MyndGenie.

About

Saritha Rai is an India-based journalist and commentator who covers technology, business and society from her ringside seat in Bangalore.

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