Silicon Startups mushroom by the hundreds in cities like California, Boston, Chicago and Miami. Why don't we see a similar effect in our own backyard ?We have the necessary human resource, the best institutions for higher education, the same democratic setup that America has. Even venture funding is big business in India these days having its own share of multi millionaires who have made it to the Forbes list. With Web 2.0 close to 2 years old now, we still see a precipitation of Web 2.0 application startups in America that get listed everyday on various sites like TechCrunch, TechMeme, etc on the Blogosphere. Why is it that India or any other developing nation does not see a similar hatchlings?
The answer partly came in the form of Paul Graham's detailed analysis of what is it that other nations lack in comparision with America that makes them non-conducive to silicon startups. In the article that is incidentally the keynote address delivered by him at some conference, he takes the case of each country that is a key candidate for a possible spurt of silicon startups and lists the key deficiencies vis-a-vis the USA that act as the key barrier for a replication of the success that America has enjoyed over the years and continues to do so. In India's case, the key deficiency that Paul puts forth is the poverty ridden society. Though he acknoledges the steady improvement India has been registering with each passing year since the economy opened up in the 90s, he is unsure of how much time it might take for India to fully walk the distance from being a land where one still sees swarms of beggars, to one where we can see swarms of silicon startups. The reasons he puts forth are two
- Poverty brings with it the lack of infrastructure and the slow pace of development.
- The incremental changes in the attitudes of a society that take several generations to span a new line of thought.
- The culture of the country also is a key determinant. Ours is a 'relational culture' where we do not see anything wrong when we patronise our relatives, friends and people of importance to us. Of whether they will be able to add value to the team is a secondary matter.
- The lack of huge consumer based local market that does its business over the Internet.
- Red-tapism and bureacracy...[More of an extension of the 2nd point by Paul.]
- The lack of a unified de-facto language across the nation, making it necessary for regional language support to tap the 25 odd, million-strong regional market in India.
The article goes on taking up China, Japan, Singapore, Europe on a case by case basis. Though there are points where I beg to differ from the author, it does give a fresh look at the oft asked question. Worth a read.