The Real Silicon Valley Vs India’s Silicon Valley: An Entrepreneur’s Perspective


When Bangalore became the epicenter of Tom Friedman’s flat world, the sleepy garden city was thrust with a new title– India’s Silicon Valley. While the South Indian city is a technology services driven linear growth environment, the real Silicon Valley is a non linear growth environment with many blockbuster startups to its credit. Slowly, but surely, Bangalore is changing. But there are critical differences between the two cultures. Sreekumar Vijaykumar, the CEO of Tradebriefs who just got back from a brief stint in the Silicon Valley (as part of geeks on a plane) has observed some differences between the real Silicon Valley and Bangalore. In a Quick Q&A with NextBigWhat, he talks about three things that need to change in India before it can churn out quality startups in large numbers.

1. The culture of giving forward

In the Valley, there is a community of entrepreneurs who have done it, made money or are on to their next venture. Given the right platform, they are happy to give back to the community. They share insights and have a great open mindset. Its important someone plays that role.

2. Respect for subject matter expert

There is huge respect for a subject matter expert in the Valley. For instance, someone who understands email in and out would not get the same kind of respect in India that you’d get there. Its important for the Indian startup ecosystem to start respecting subject matter experts. They are not necessarily the CEOs of the company or the heads but they are good at what they do. That’s key in getting good solid companies out of India. On the macro front, you might have heard how the hustler-hacker-designer combination works for startups. In India, there are hustlers but not enough hackers and designers. The right way to put it would be that there are hackers and designers but they don’t have the kind of access and exposure in India. Trust networks of people who know each other very well has to happen. Breaking into that community in India is very difficult unless you are a celebrity. That’s the bigger reason we don’t find enough of them or respect them.

3. Relationship between investor and entrepreneur

There is probably a supply demand issue, entrepreneurs seem indebted to the investors in India where as it should be an equal relationship. The entrepreneur knows best. When I hear conversations about investors wanting to replace chief executive officer or the entrepreneur, I feel that its not a healthy sign.

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