Category Archives: Pune City

Why I chose Pune for my startup

This article was written by Anthony Hsiao in an e-mail thread over at Pune OpenCoffee Club‘s mailing list, and is reproduced here with permission. Anthony is a co-founder of Pune-startup Entrip. Anthony, Nick and Adil, who were in London when they decided to start Entrip, moved to Pune to actually make it happen, for the reasons given in this article.

I am putting my money on Pune as India’s startuphub.

When we first decided to just head to India to start work on our startup
(we’re London based), we were only heard of Bangalore as the next IT hub,
and Hyderabad as upcoming. We didn’t want to go to a megacity like Delhi or
Mumbai, but more of a Tech City. Then one of my best friends from
Switzerland, he’s Indian, recommended we should have a look at Pune.

After some research, Pune met exactly the kind of requirements that we were
looking for, or at least, it fared better on a decision analysis than did
Bangalore or Hyderabad: It’s a college city with lots of young, educated and
(as we hoped) creative people, not too large, IT focused, not too expensive
(at the time). Another big factor was the fact that we perceived Bangalore
and Hyderabad as HUGE IT OUTSROURCING CENTERS, cities of modern factories,
where modern labourers were robotting away, while Pune, as educational
center, appeared to offer a different perspective. My friend also told me
that the girls in Pune were very ‘interesting’, but that is just a side note
– but as true geek this didn’t play much of a role *wink*.

When we got to Pune, I think one of the first things that struck me was
actually the apparent lack of creativity, lack of spirit that we are used to
from university towns where students just ‘do things’, the lack of ambition
just for the beauty of it and the seemingly only motivation to do anything –
working for some big company with some name, earning bucks.

It took some time for me to understand where a) people were coming from (not
everybody has parents that would happily support your little startup
adventures if they went wrong) b) the cultural and in large parts traditonal
context that young people had to operate from within, and c) that in fact it
strongly depends on the kind of circles that we moved within to get these
impressions. I was a bit disappointed, and am still, everytime I heard
someone ask for what company I work for rather than for what I actually do,
but my criticism was challenged by a different world that I later
discovered: the startup community in Pune.

Yes, a lot of people in Pune are neither creative nor ambitious or daring.
But that’s ok, every place in the world has a broad layer of such people. In
fact, they are vital for the ecosystem as well. But not every place has a
vibrant, connected and active startup community as Pune.

Instead of ‘cannot’, ‘big salary’ or ‘I don’t know why’, I suddenly heard ‘I
think I can, and I will try’, ‘big opportunity’ and ‘Because it’s cool’. A
180 degree turn from a lot of the students or ‘desparate’ professionals I’ve
met! What is this newly discovered startup community?

Looking at it now as I write this, I would say that Pune has what is
necessary to attract ‘the right kind of people’, young, creative,
adventurous, willing to ‘do things’ – the stuff that startups are about (in
large parts). It certainly worked for us or fellow foreigners trying it out
in Pune as well as the countless NRIs or long term expats that come back
with a more open mind and lots of experience. That, then, is a positive
feedback loop for the composition of the city and the community.

So it’s the people of Pune, or the startup community to be more precise,
which I think send out a strong message. Of course I would like to play an
active part in shaping this still relatively young community, and I think so
does everybody else. There is this community sense, where people communicate
AND understand each other, go through SIMILAR experiences and face SIMILAR
hurdles as entrepreneurs (in IT-outsroucing-India), want to help each OTHER
and want to rise TOGETHER, as a community, so that one day we can all say it
happened in Pune, and we were  there.

So what message does Pune send out? I think it says ‘we are Pune, and we
have what it takes to be India’s silicon valley’.

Best regards ,

Anthony – a foreigner.

Other thoughts: Maybe I am painting a bit of a biased picture, and of course
there is still a lot of work to be done. But the composition of Pune is
there, the community is there (and growing), and the will and shared spirit
seems to be there. Now the change just needs to happen.

I would attribute a great part of this spirit or feeling to the fact that
Pune is relatively small, or at least has been. People are closer, and know
each other. As such, I see the creation of huge IT parks all over the place
OUTSIDE the city/in satellite towns, as a potential dilution to the Pune
startup community, which I hope we can somehow fend off.

Of course, one might be able to craft a similar description about other
cities line Bangalore, but I would say that the unique composition of
colleges and companies are a great edge. Also, at least in the past, the
ratio of ‘large companies’ to ‘small companies’, I’d guess, is smaller in
Pune than in other places – or at least was. If everybody around a young
graduate is going to try to work for the next big company that pays stellar
salaries, of course, startups would lose the war for talent. As such, the
intensifying competition of large companies for good people is another
threat to look out for, but one which, I think, can be addressed by a strong
and visible startup community.

I don’t want to get into politics and policies (at least not in an email

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IT cos find Pune rentals high-priced

The Times of India is reporting that the increasing rentals in Pune could be a significant deterrent in growth of IT in Pune.

Sunil Patil, president (Pune region), UBICS, a software company of the UB group, believes that the rentals may spoil the show. “Rentals in Pune for software companies have gone up 300% in three years. We are being offered space at Rs 65 per sq ft, which at $1.50 is the rate in Manhattan,” he said.

This comes on top of the disappearing cost advantage, especially in product companies. Salaries have been going up, and what used to be a 1 :: 6 or at least 1 :: 4 cost advantage is fast evaporating, especially at the higher levels. For people with 7-8 years of experience or more, I’ve heard numbers like 1 :: 1.5, and in some cases, I’ve heard that execs in India actually need to be paid more than the equivalent US salary. Factor in the increasing cost of real estate, travel, and other overheads associated with having India operations, and the economics of the situation start looking troubling.

When (now shut down their Bangalore operations, CEO Munjal Shah wrote a detailed post on why they couldn’t afford India. It is very instructive reading. Larger companies have an internal headcount ratio – if you have budget to fund a 100 person team in the US, how many people can you fund in India. This number used to be 300 earlier, and there’s at least one company that has updated its numbers to 100. Think about that. They end up with the same cost irrespective of whether the team is in the US or India – and this factors in the fact that junior programmers in India are much cheaper than those in the US.

If you are not careful, your job is going to Shanghai. Or Philippines.

Note: I am talking about product companies that are trying to do full-fledged product development out of India. In services (i.e. outsourcing) the ratios are better. But even there the situation is grim. Read Sramana Mitra’s “The Death of Outsourcing“, for example.

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A Vision for e-Governance in Pune

In an earlier article, I wrote about how Pune now has a CIO, who is pushing various initiatives to make Pune the city with the best use of technology for governance.

At my request, Dr. Anupam Saraph, the CIO of Pune, has written two articles about this aspect of his work. The first one is a vision piece painting a picture of Pune in 2015. An excerpt:

The pain of providing the same information over and over at different counters is history. The first time I registered myself to ilife, through my computer at home, I was asked to provide information to identify myself. I was requested to visit any one of the 14 ward offices to provide a photograph and my thumbprint to receive my Pune-card, my username and a password to access ilife. That was it.

My Pune-card provides me with cashless bus-travel, parking and entry into all electronic access public locations as well as electronic entry enabled private locations. It works as a cash-card and also replaces time-consuming procedures with countless forms to make applications. It simplifies and secures transactions as I can simply allow the service providers to swipe my card and take my thumbprint to access information. Only information that I have marked as allow through Pune-card will be accessed at points-of-transaction. The transaction is updated in my account on ilife.

If you read the whole article, you’ll notice that none of the ideas contained there are futuristic, or taken from sci-fi. They are all things that can be implemented relatively easily using today’s technology. All that is needed is execution and political will. And there are indications that the political will is there.

While a vision statement might be good as an inspiration, it is worthless without concrete short-term goals and projects. Dr. Saraph has written another article that lists some of the specific projects that are already underway. There is already industry interest for some of these projects, for example, Unwire Pune, and Pune Cards. Others, like Design for Pune and MyWard, will depend more upon community participation.

This is where you come in. All of these projects can do with help. From web-design and usability, to server and database tuning. Or, if you are a non-technology person, you can help with spreading the word, or simply by participating. I am planning to start a discussion on these topics at IdeaCampPune tomorrow (Saturday). Dr. Saraph will also try and attend those discussions. (Registration for that event is now closed, so you will not be able to attend unless you’ve already registered. However, if there is a good discussion, and any concrete actions result from it, I’ll write an article on that in the next week. Stay tuned. If you’ve already registered, please note that the venue has shifted to Persistent’s Aryabhatta facility near Nal Stop.)

SEAP is already behind these initiatives (in fact, the appointment of Anupam Saraph is a joint partnership between PMC, SEAP, Dr. Saraph.) Civic commissioner Praveensinh Pardeshi is very supportive of the project. Companies like Persistent, Eclipsys, nVidia have already pitched in by providing free manpower or resources.

But given the scope of the project, more volunteers are welcome. I have already committed to spending some time every week on projects that can use my expertise, like Design for Pune and MyWard.

It is very easy to get cynical about any projects undertaken by the government. Especially PMC. And that was my first reaction too. However, I have now come to believe that a few people can make a difference. Participate. Enthusiastically. Passionately. Try to convince your friends. One out of 50 will join you. That might be enough. Isn’t it worth trying?

Related articles:

PMC vision for the future needs your help

Pune now has has a CIO – whose job it is to guide all use of information technology related to PMC. This includes external facing services like property tax payments, marriage/birth/death registration, and also internal use of IT like MIS and ERP. Dr. Anupam Saraph, who has been appointed the CIO of PMC, is an industry veteran with a good understanding of the latest trends in both technology and e-governance. As a result, his vision for PMC goes far beyond simple computerization of services – this includes initiatives to encourage citizen participation through the use of wikis and social networking, games and competitions to increase citizen involvement, use of maps, GIS, and mashups to increase usability and usefulness of the services and websites.

However, I don’t think this is something that can be done without active community participation. For really successful implementation of some of these ideas, what is really needed, in my opinion, is the involvement of the tech community to help with the execution – frontends, backends, usability, evangelization. I would like to start a discussion on how we can help.

Dr. Saraph has agreed to attend IdeaCampPune for a few hours in the first half o the day. If we can get a few discussions started around this topic, he can participate, clarify his vision for us, and answer questions. I have also requested him to write an article giving some more details on his ideas and initiatives, so we can start thinking about how best the community can help in each of those areas. He hopes to have it done by Monday or Tuesday, and I’ll post it here as soon as I get it. Please check this site again on Tuesday. (Or better yet, subscribe to the RSS feed or email updates.)

If you have any immediate questions or suggestions please post them in the comments below, and I can have Dr. Saraph answer them.

Related articles:
Upcoming Events: IdeaCampPune
PMC to re-charge Pune wi-fi project
Pune Municipal Corporation gets CIO, new website, wiki

PMC to re-charge Pune wi-fi project

From ExpressIndia.Com

With private company, Microsense, “struggling” to implement the Unwire Pune project a year after its launch through out the city, the Pune Municipal Corporation is planning to rope in multiple agencies to provide the (Wi-Fi) wireless internet connectivity facility.


“Four more private agencies have offered to provide the wireless internet connectivity service and we are planning to rope them for the implementation of the coveted project,” Anupam Saraph, chief information officer (CIO), PMC, told this paper on Sunday.

PMC now has an experienced industry veteran, in the form of CIO Anupam Saraph, at the helm of IT-related affairs since January 2008, and he is slowly trying to overhaul the system. He recently gave the PMC website a new look, and introduced the use of wikis for internal project management. He has a bunch of other initiatives cooking that I hope to write about in detail later this week. Stay tuned.

Pune Municipal Corporation gets CIO, new website, wiki

PMC has gone hi-tech. Yesterday, they unveiled a new, improved website that is expected to be more userfriendly. They can now apply for birth and death certificates online and pay municipal taxes online. PMC is the first corporation to have a payment gateway (through ICICI bank and HDFC bank) according to CIO Anupam Saraph.

Yes, Pune has a CIO – Chief Information Officer. The PMC collaborated with SEAP, the Software Exporters Association of Pune, to appoint Anupam, who will guide the direction of all hi-tech goodness that is to happen in PMC soon. Pune is also the first municipal corporation to have a CIO.

“The website has been a voluntary effort by the software companies in Pune such as Persistent software, Eclipse software who provided manpower purely on a voluntary basis,” said Saraph.

The other important feature in the website is the inclusion of Wiki software that allows creation of an employee zone for internal management of the corporation.

Through Wiki, employees would now be able to create, edit, link, and organize the content of the projects they are involved in.

To ensure better navigation, the PMC website will change every month. “In the next version Wiki software will allow the citizens to talk about development plans of the city. Later versions intend to include the software for citizens to help the corporation with their strategic infrastructure expertise, so as to develop a standard in the city,” said Saraph.

“Till now we have trained 180-odd employees and expect to train 50 employees a month to ensure more usage of the software,” he said.

The website in it present form has been visited by more than half a million people.

Source: ZDNet India

News in Brief: 96 MNC R&D centers in Pune

According to Management Consulting firm Zinnov,  there are an estimated 594 R&D centers of multi-national companies in India employing 146,760 workers. Most are in Bangalore (312), followed by Pune with 96, the New Delhi area with 87, Hyderabad with 55 and Chennai with 39. (Source: EETimes.)

Bangalore, as expected, has more than all the others combined. But Pune is second. Yippie. to expand to other cities launched last September and is already considered a major success.

Within seven months of going live, has emerged as the leading website in Pune, as regards jobseeker traffic emanating from Pune. The site is attracting more than 5,000 visitors daily with 10000 new jobseekers registering every month. It has on average 3,000 clients advertising 4,000 jobs monthly from entry-level to mid-management level for leading players in IT/ITES, manufacturing, automobile, retail and BFSI sectors.

Source: IndiaPRWire

MyJobsInPune is owned by Irish company SaonGroup which chose Pune as the location for its maiden venture into India because:

Pune is a fascinating city with great economic potential. It has attracted numerous Fortune 500 enterprises as well as many top-tier professionals who aspire to develop their careers in Pune. It is for these reasons that Pune was selected as the first city for Saongroup to launch in and we plan to invest up to €10m in the initial phase of expansion across India from our HQ in Pune. We strongly believe that India presents a huge opportunity for sustained growth in different sectors and a rapid growth in online recruitment.

Source: Leslie Buckley Chairman,

I just checked out MyJobsInPune’s home page and noticed that everyone from B.U. Bhandari Auto, to Goel Ganga Group have put up ads there. So it seems to have managed to rope in a quite eclectic mix of customers. On the other hand, I did not find ads from major software companies like Symantec, or Persistent, or even Infosys listed.

In any case, it is heartening to note that there are 1000s of web-savvy employers in Pune.

(Found this newsitem via AlooTechie.)

Pune IT salary hikes highest in country

IT Salaries in Pune increased by 20% over the last 12 months, compared to 12% for Bangalore and the country average of 14%. Bangalore continues to have the highest salary levels in the country, and I think is 12% higher than Pune (can’t say for sure, since the article is a little unclear). This according to a report released by management consulting firm Zinnov.

‘Though compensation in Bangalore continues to be the highest in the country, the dramatic wage increase in Pune can be attributed to high salaries offered by multinationals (mostly from the US) setting up captive centres in Maharashtra’s boom city,’ Zinnov CEO Pari Natarajan told IANS.

Source: IndiaPRWire. See also’s coverage.