For those of you who don't want to read my boring blog, please have a look at 'our trip' Startup: A Mahrati Adventure' below: It shows the different destinations on our journey to Pune, has photos and all the important background infos - in each of the relevant locations where the action happened. Enjoy!
The decision was made: Nick and I, still at Imperial College back then in June 2007, were going to go to some 'cool place that is cheap to live, to learn about web applications and develop our ideas, whilst discovering a new country, culture'.
At first we wanted to lie on the beach in Thailand, on some island and satellite internet, but that idea was soon replaced for going to India. Majorly influential in that decision was my good friend Sid, whom I studied in Zurich with, and an amazing book called Shantaram. Of course, the fact that India is more more IT savvy, a booming world economy and inevitably one of the most important countries of the 21st century kind of played a role as well :-)
Why we chose Pune
Everyone in Europe had heard of this IT hub called Bangalore. Also famous were megacities like Mumbai or Delhi. But where should we actually go to try to startup, without having been to India before at all?
So we talked to people, shortlisted a couple of cities, and made a classical decision analysis (although not in too formal a way). After consciously deciding against any of the megacities, and requiring some sense of IT-savvyness, we were left with Pune, Bangalore, Hyderabad.
Next, we decided what it was we were really looking for in a place, and came up with a couple of dimensions: IT-savvyness (they all kinda met), cost of living, a young crowd, ideally with lots of students for us to socialise with, decent climate, the potential to be a creative place, closeness to places of interest (beach, interesting city, etc), reputation of the beauty of girls. I think that was more or less it.
Then we just compared and assigned scores to each of the cities - based on what we could generalise from friends, news, blogs, and other statistics we could find. One blog, I can't find it anymore because the number of blog posts about 'pune', 'startup' and 'silicon valley' have just exploded in the last year, was also very influential, where some guy basically said how, and why, Pune could become Indias silicon valley.
So basically, on the metrics that we cared about, Pune won hands down. I would guess that these are the kind of metrics the 'average young web entrepreneur' would care about.
Arriving in Pune, and overall impression
I've written about my thoughts about Pune as a startup hub many a times before, and have passionately advocated Pune abroad in Europe. Having said that, I would say that it took us about two to three months or so to actually settle in, get in touch with the Startup Community, meet the right people, and get involved. When we came, we knew noone, and didn't even know about the buzzing startup community I so passionately write and care about now. But, thanks to the internet and POCC, we finally 'made it'.
So. Has Pune disappointed us? Not in the least. Would I do it again? Absolutely. Is it 'the place to be'? Time will tell - but I have all reason to be optimistic!
As I keep telling my friends and family at home: One day, in 15 years, i will tell my children that we just got lucky, and ended up in Pune - the right place at the right time!