@thinkSantosh (Santosh Dawara) points out that the GSF (Global Superangels Forum) is looking for an Entrepreneur in Residence, and hopes people from Pune will take this opportunity to increase their network, increase their exposure, and help improve Pune’s presence in the Indian and Global startup ecosystem.
More information about the EIR@GSF program is here.
What are they looking for?
An EiR (Entrepreneur in Residence) is a misfit, a rebel and a leader, who sees an opportunity for change everywhere he/she looks. An EiR is restless, looking for his/her next challenge, while engaging with the best and brightest startups in India. An EiR is a humble, go-getter, rolling his/her sleeves up to get the job, any job, done.
EiRs will anchor GSF’s startup accelerator programs in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai by scouting, evaluating and aiding selection of the best startups from different regions of India. They will explore and drive strategic partnerships and expand GSF’s already robust mentor network of top entrepreneurs and executives in the tech community across the four cities. EiRs will also be responsible for designing and executing programming, managing logistics and buddy mentoring startups from MVP to Demo Day to eventual funding. EiRs are also awarded equity into the startups selected for GSF Accelerator.
For its inaugural program, GSF Accelerator inducted 17 EiRs who have have been entrepreneurs, students, investors, and ex-consultants. They have worked at some of the most exciting companies in the world and have educated from top tier educational institutions. Till date 30 EiRs have been part of GSF Acceleration program. For more details, please see the profiles of the GSF 2013 EiR
Team, and the GSF 2012 EiR Team.
Why is this being shared here?
Santosh says this:
I have no direct affiliation to GSF. But here’s why I suggested this,
In the near term an EIR is not a bad thing for an entrepreneur who is in-between ideas and is looking for a filler, or to simply grow his or her outlook, network.
In the long run, it will help us all immensely if any serious incubator were to consider a presence in Pune. If I may remind everyone, we are still missing the institutionalization of failures and successes of Punes startups. It helps to have one roof. As a result, every yr startups get going and attempt to reinvent without the benefit of what’s already been figured out by previous startups.
An incubator in Pune is atleast a step in that direction. If not that, having direct connections is the next best thing.
Can someone help me with the application?
Again, Santosh writes:
If the applicant is serious and has some of the necessary qualifications, I think there’s a lot of people on this list who will be willing to help in whatever way they can.
Hinjewadi is easily the most important part of Pune as far as software technology is concerned, and there are many associated infrastructural problems that do not get the attention they deserve. The Hinjewadi Industries Association is an association of industries that is trying to change that.
Hinjewadi contributes around 60 per cent of Maharashtra’s total IT exports. As of now we are able to generate the revenue of Rs 35,000 crore. This area has around 90 companies employing people and generating revenue however, around 50 companies are part of HIA. The major players in this area includes Infosys, Wipro, Cognizant, TCS, Persistent, KPIT Cummins along with Accenture and many others.
About the Industries in Hinjewadi
This area has around 85 per cent of IT sector; around 5 per cent of Biotechnology (BT) sector and remaining 10 per cent is manufacturing sector.
What is the objective of the Hinjewadi Industries Association?
The basic objective of the HIA is to have a structured growth of infrastructure, security and facilities for its member companies and their employees. Even today the major issues like security, traffic safety needs to be address.
Pune is one of the few cities in the country that regularly and promptly publishes its annual budget on its website. Pune NGOs Janwani and Parisar have analysed the budget and published the analysis so that everybody can get a better idea of where our tax money is being spent.
Overall, while Pune gets good marks for making the budget available to the public, apparently, the budget is not easy to understand, and making sense of it requires a significant amount of further processing. Parisar has done exactly that.
Now the next step is to convince the authorities to publicize how the money is actually spent (as opposed to how they had planned on spending it).
An April Fool prank post is a tradition here at PuneTech. This year, Hetal Rach suggested the idea that a prank involving an article written by Vivek Wadhwa would be a good idea. Based on this, we made up the whole article, all the statistics and graphs, and all the expert comments too.
We would like to apologize to Vivek Wadhwa for misusing his name like this. We did not contact him before publishing the article, so obviously did not have his permission to do so. We were not even expecting to be noticed by Vivek, so imagine our shock when the first comment on the article was by Vivek himself, pointing out that:
I have no idea why my name is being used here and is linked to my website. I have performed no such research and don’t believe that the metrics used here are valid.
We held the comment in moderation (so as not to give the joke away), and quickly contacted him over email to explain the situation. We are very thankful to Vivek for taking the whole thing with a sporting spirit.
Just so that it is clear to everybody, Pune’s IT industry is NOT going to decline. I’m sure it will see phenomenal growth. As Vivek Wadhwa himself said in his comment:
Pune may not be able to grow at its current rates, but I know of no reason why it should decline. To the contrary, it has built a stable of experienced engineers that are likely to want to start companies. They will boost entrepreneurship in the region.
I’m sure entrepreneurship in Pune is flourishing and will scale newer heights.
All of the “expert comments” in the “Reactions in Pune” section were made up by us.
Santosh Dawara is not joining Infosys (as far as we know)
Arun Prabhudesai is indeed focusing on the education sector as part of My Open Campus, but has no intentions of introducing Java in primary education, and certainly does not want to upset the powerful Geography lobby.
MrShri does want you to come to FourSquare Day Pune 2011 and find out for yourself.
Sahil Khan would really like you to visit yolkshire and eat a silky omelette
And I haven’t really checked, but I am certain that Rohan Dighe would heartily agree with his own advice that one should drink beer, write code, and let other people worry about the future.
This time though, most people figured out that it was a prank, and hence there are very few real bakras in the comments section. However, many people who figured it out, used the comments section to unleash their creativity, so it is well worth a read.
Update: Vivek Wadhwa left a detailed comment on this post, which we’re including in the post here for wider visibility:
Navin, there is no reason why Pune can’t become a center for entrepreneurship–build it’s own version of Silicon Valley. All of the ingredients are there. There is a highly skilled workforce, ambitious people who have experience and a desire to change the world, and relatively good infrastructure.
What is needed is for experienced entrepreneurs to start mentoring the fledgling, and for the creation of networks where people congregate, exchange ideas, and help each other. This is how Silicon Valley works and how Indians have become so successful here. One out of seven tech startups in Silicon Valley have an India CEO or CTO–which is amazing considering that Indians constituted just 6% of the Valley’s working population in 2000.
Pune can lead the nation in entrepreneurship and become a competitor to Silicon Valley itself if it does things right. This will take a decade or so to achieve, but is possible. You need to have the community get together and make this happen (note: I said community–not government).
And yes, the world is such a small place because of the internet and social media tools like Twitter, that articles like this reach people like me. I saw the Tweets which mentioned my name and wondered why you were using this in vein.
(Update: This article was a PuneTech April Fools Day Prank. A full apologyexplanation, is published here.)
(For the last 6 months, Vivek Wadhwa, an entrepreneur academic, has been conducting a detailed study on the competitiveness of the tech industry in India, China and Indonesia. His detailed report is due next month, but since PuneTech was a data-collection partner, we have been given an early preview of a rough draft of the report. The full report goes into comprehensive detail for the tier 1, tier 2 and tier 3 cities of all three countries, and we don’t have permission to publish that data, but we have picked a few excerpts relevant to Pune. Many thanks to Hetal Rach, Western Region Co-ordinator for Wadhwa Research for helping us make sense of the report.)
The India Story – Not Shining
(The next few paragraphs are taken from Chapter 2 of the report)
Much has been made of the rise of India as an IT powerhouse in the last 2 decades. The story has been nothing short of miraculous – with $76.1 billion in revenues, the IT software and services sector constitutes 6.4% of the GDP of India, and 26% of all Indian exports (up from just 1.2% and 4% respectively in 1998). Looking forward, the general consensus, especially of experts based in India, is that the next decade will continue to be one of high value-added growth. A popular opinion amongst industry watchers is that while the first decade of growth in Indian IT/ITES industry was fueled by IT/BPO outsourcing, and the second decade of growth was fueled by software product outsourcing, the next decade will see the rise of software products being built and marketed out of India. The thriving startup ecosystem in India (for example, national forums like Proto and Headstart, and the even more resurgent local forums like Pune Open Coffee Club) are seen as leading indicators of this change that is sweeping India.
It has been clear to everybody concerned that this growth cannot really be driven by Bangalore, the poster city for the revolution. Bangalore and other tier 1 cities are already bursting at the seams as far as infrastructure is concerned, and there exists a massive problem of talent acquisition and retention. The general consensus was that the primary drivers of growth in the next 5 years would be tier 2 cities like Pune and Chennai, and tier 3 cities like Indore and Nashik would start contributing after 2015.
Most of these predictions have been based on very superficial data, and in many cases, just on the gut feel of the experts. There hasn’t been an attempt at a systematic collection of data until now, and this report is based upon the findings of a first of its kind research project that we have conducted by going all the way down to tier 3 cities. Unfortunately for India, the results are not promising.
A Pulse of Pune’s Future
(The next few paragraphs are taken from Appendix E of the report)
The young and dynamic city of Pune, often referred to as the Oxford of the East, is an example of the second wave of growth of the Indian IT Industry. Although a historically very important city, since the merger of Mumbai into Maharashtra in 1960, Pune has had to live in the shadow cast by its big brother, and has often not gotten the recognition it deserved. However, with its large student population, much better quality of life than Mumbai, and the famous Puneri attitude, it was perfectly positioned to take advantage of the IT revolution, and had done so admirably.
Starting from almost nothing in the ’90s, it managed to reach the $1 Billion mark in software exports in 2004, and now, at $8 B, it is widely believed to be on the verge of exploding.
Unfortunately, though, all is not well. Just a half hour spent in the city (especially on a Thursday) will give an idea of the persistent problems that plague the city. Roads are a mess, and traffic is an increasing problem. The electricity board can barely keep the city on right now, and the problem is expected to get much worse in the next few years. A bigger problem is that the city’s famed educational institutions are turning out, to quote the colorful phrase of a frustrated city CEO, “half-illiterate idiots,” and finding talent is becoming more and more like looking for a needle in a haystack.
As a consequence, Pune fares rather poorly on the Wadhwa competitiveness index, and based on that, the projected figures for Pune show that while it will see modest growth in the next two years, after that, there will actually start a period of decline for 7 years straight. See Figure 1 for more details.
(The full report is expected to be published next month.)
Reactions in Pune
PuneTech caught up with some prominent personalities in the Pune tech community to gauge their reactions to this research. As expected, opinion is divided. Some have already seen the writing on the wall and started taking steps accordingly, while others simply see this as a challenge to try harder.
Santosh Dawara, one of the founders of the Pune Open Coffee Club, and founder of Dubzer, agrees that there is not much of a future in doing a technology startup out of Pune, but believes that the future of the IT/ITES outsourcing industry remains strong:
“A huge advantage Indians have is that most of us are multi-lingual, and learn 3 different languages as a matter of course,” he says. “This will be a growing advantage in an internationalized and localized software world. As long as we continue to produce millions of people proficient in English and 2 other languages, we will continue to get maintenance, testing, l10n, and i18n work.”
As of last week, Santosh has quit Dubzer, and is joining Infosys as the head of their Software Language Services practice, where he will be responsible for translations of more than 20% of the world’s software products.
Arun Prabhudesai, who returned to India 5 years ago to start hover.in, is a great believer of the resilience of India. He agrees with the data, but disagrees with the conclusion:
“The key point this report makes is that we are not producing software engineers who are good enough to take on the competition. We fix that, and the problem is solved.”
“The two biggest problems our education system faces are these,” says Arun, “First, our most talented people, he ones who have the potential to be the best teachers and professors for our next generation, are becoming slaves to the lure of the dollar. I am setting an example by quitting that game right now, and joining academia. The second problem is that we waste so much of our children’s time by teaching them worthless stuff like history and geography. Tell me, which is the last great Geography startup you’ve seen? I will not rest until Java is introduced as a compulsory subject from the 1st standard in SSC board.”
Shrinath Navghane, better known as @MrShri, rejects the entire argument of the Wadhwa report:
“I don’t know what trends they’re seeing, but I think they’re completely wrong,” he opines. “It’s a joke to say that the tech industry in Pune will be just $5B by 2020. I expect just the Foursquare Based Services (FBS) industry in Pune to be $4.16B by that time, so the whole SoMe market will clearly be more than $5B. Come to Foursquare Day Pune 2011 and find out for yourself,” he challenges.
Younger entrepreneurs whom we contacted are apparently less worried. “#FAIL! B***nch*d,” responded Sahil Khan via twitter, “but no worries. Whatever the f**k happens with the software industry, people still have to eat. And the healthiest and cheapest food is eggs. Anyone care for a silky omelette?”
Rohan Dighe is even more chilled, “These baap people take too much tension. One should just drink beer, write code and let other people worry about the future.”
Amen to that, we say!
Update: As noted at the top, this article was an April Fools Day prank. To ensure that comments on this post did not give away the prank too early, some comments were held in moderation until the end of the day. All these comments have now been approved, but we have prefixed these comments with a [***]. Hence, when reading the comments below, please note that comments beginning with the [***] were not visible to anybody on 1st April.
A few weeks back, we had reported on the Pune Traffic Police’s contest to design a Pune Traffic Portal. The first round of filtering is now done, and PTP has announced 5 designs short-listed for the final round. You can see the designs at:
To vote and/or comment on these designs, go to the facebook page for this contest. 20% of the marks have been reserved for the community voting, and the remaining 80% will be awarded by the judges.
The results will be declared on 3rd January. The best design gets a cash prize of Rs. 50000.
(By the way, if you read this before 5pm on Monday, 27 Dec, please note that Pune Traffic Police have called their “facebook friends” to University Circle at 5pm today to analyze and discuss the traffic problems of that area, and gather suggestions from the people. DCP Manoj Patil will be present. Check out the awesome Pune Traffic Police facebook page for more details.)
Janwani and Pune Traffic Police have announced a contest for designing a traffic information portal for Pune. The last date for registering is 20th November, and the last date for submission is 30th November. There’s a cash prize of Rs. 50,000 for the winner. The contest will be judged based on usability, creativity, use of animated features, graphics and color theme. Contest entrants will get detailed guidelines after registering.
In the last few years, Pune Traffic Police have started a number of very interesting tech initiatives. For example, just yesterday, they announced the launch of a facebook page where citizens can report parking violations and Traffic Police will take action against the offenders. I assume it his this page.There is also the “Blackberry” programme, where Pune Traffic officers enter all traffic violations data in an online server, and this has actually helped them find repeat offenders, solve some long standing cases, etc. This system was developed by Pune Startup Omni-Bridge, and we’re hoping to cover them on PuneTech sometime soon.
Janwani is an initiative of the Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA), it was formed in 2006 to advocate and promote equitable and sustainable development in the city beneficial to the citizens. This is turn stems from the fact that the city will not be an attractive destination unless it is a truly “livable city.”
Janwani endeavors to take a comprehensive view of city development. They work towards identifying gaps and priority areas in the development process, and providing well researched and implementable solutions. They are working to both create a shared vision amongst Punekars of the type of city they want, and bring this vision to reality by networking, facilitating and driving the development process of the city on the desired path.
Persistent Systems, one of Pune’s most well known companies, is finally going public. This is an occasion which many Punekars have been waiting for, and it makes the ‘success’ of Persistent official.
However, Persistent Systems, and its CEO Anand Deshpande, mean much more to the tech community. In the last 10 years, they have been a major force in shaping and helping the community find its feet and grow. To get a feel for the various ways in which Anand and Persistent have helped the tech community in Pune, we asked this question on forpune.com, the new question/answer site for Pune, and got a lot of good responses. Here are some excerpts
Startups founded by Persistent alumni: A friend who wished to remain anonymous has this to say:
Being a very “tech” driven company, many techies join Persistent. There, they are exposed to cutting edge startups that outsource work to Persistent. They are exposed to the latest startup ideas, and they get a chance to interact with entrepreneurs, CEO’s, Business Managers and Engineers based in silicon valley. This helps build an entrepreneurial outlook.
In addition, Persistent has also encouraged marrying corporate entrepreneurship with hitech ideas. Employees are encouraged to take time out time to shape Product ideas that later revealed valuable IP for Persistent. This practice continues to be refined and shaped.
As a result of this, the Persistent alumni network regularly reveals several entrepreneurs chasing hitech dreams and this trend has only grown with the company. Through it’s alumni, Persistent has created a whole generation of entrepreneurs who might one day just enable Pune to figure prominently on the tech-innovation map alongside the valley.
It’s amazing – Anand and Persistent have touched many lives. He finds time for all! He mentored and supported us in our start-up attempt, with advice that still lives in my mind. He’s a great role model.
The same is true for PuneTech. We regularly meet Anand and he has lots of suggestions, pointers for us and introduces us to people who could help us. In fact, part of the reason why PuneTech was founded can be traced back to Anand. A few years ago, when I used to simply working in a big company and did not take any interest in the tech community around me, Anand was responsible for pulling me into the CSI Pune managing committee. That got me thinking about what the tech community in Pune needs, and that finally culminated in the founding of PuneTech
Supporting tech initiatives and organizations in Pune: Be it CSI Pune, or SEAP, or the office of CIO of Pune City, Persistent and Anand have had a hand in it, or at least played a major supporting role. Often, Persistent regularly provides ‘resources’ in the form of developers, or expert advice, to government institutions that are looking to modernize and go digital.Amit Kumar Singh points out that he was able to organize the first PHPCamp thanks to the support of Persistent. That attracted over a 1000 PHP developers to Pune, and was arguably one of the biggest unconferences in India. PHPCamp has now become an yearly activity, and has also spawned the very popular phpcamp.net website.
The Dewang Mehta auditorium: This auditorium is easily one of the most sought after places for tech events in the city. it has world class facilities, a perfect center-of-the-city location, and in addition, Persistent is always willing to give the auditorium, for free, to anybody willing to hold a tech event in the city.The number of great events that have happened there (including proto.in, Innovationsetc.) is just too long to list out.
Encouragement for returning technologists: Almost any senior technology professional who has considered returning to Pune/India in the last 10 years (myself included) has probably ended up meeting Anand, and gotten the “Pune” pitch – as to why they should return. One of the primary fears, that they might not find anything interesting to work on after returning to India, is quickly allayed by Anand as he talks about all the interesting work that could be done while sitting in Persistent. Many of these people don’t necessarily join Persistent, but they do end up returning, because the picture Anand paints is better than what they had earlier imagined.
This is an example of effective use of technology in public life in Pune. Sakaal Times reports that first-time corporator Rajendra Gorde, is using SMS to not only stay in touch with his constituents but also to provide them with useful information.
Rajabhau, as he is popularly known, has created a personal data-bank of nearly 80 percent of the electorate in his ward. Not only does he know people by name, where exactly they reside and the number of people in their families, but he also knows their birth dates, anniversaries and other important dates. Most importantly, he has the cellphone numbers of each of these people.
So, it is possible for him to send out personalised greetings, good wishes, condolences and other messages to each and every individual in his database. While this kind of SMSes help Rajabhau to establish a personal connect with his voters, what makes him stand out as a corporator are the public service and informational messaging that he sends out to hundreds of people every day.
For instance, he secured the names of all secondary and higher secondary students of municipal schools in the city who had secured 80 percent and above marks. It was a pleasant surprise for 83 such students when their parents received individual SMSes from Rajabhau informing them that they were eligible for grants of Rs 15,000 and Rs 25,000, respectively, under a PMC scheme for meritorious students.
And apparently, residents are finding this service useful.
The most popular messages are the ones informing people about water cuts and power shutdowns. It enables people to prepare for exigencies and not get caught unawares.
PuneTech readers will note that this is very similar to what SMSOne has been doing in over 500+ villages and urban localities in Maharashtra and a couple of other stages. Unlike Rajendra Gorde, who is using this “SMS newsletter” concept as part of public service, SMSOne has been running this as a for-profit business, and it appears to be doing rather well. SMSOne appears to have shown that this is indeed a sustainable business model.
Given the really low cost and low technology requirements for setting up an SMS Gateway, this idea is something that many others can and should implement. I see few “web-2.0” businesses/services that are using SMS as an add-on to their website/service. And I see fewer still who are fully SMS based ideas. But, considering that India probably has 50 million internet users, and 500 million SMS users, I think more and more people should be looking at SMS as a primary enabling technology.
Proto.in, the premier startup event in the country, is happening in Pune this Saturday, so the who’s who of the startup world will descend upon Pune. This is a chance for Pune’s entrepreneurs and wannapreneurs to meet interesting people. Unfortunately, proto.in had limited seats and they are all gone, so, on popular demand, proto. in has created a pre-proto networking event for all those who will not be at proto.in – to give them a chance to network with the visitors who are coming in to town for proto.in.
The event will be on Friday, 24 July, from 5pm to 7pm at Hall No. 5, MCCIA Trade Tower, ICC Complex, S.B. Road. A fee of Rs. 100 will be collected at the door. If you want to attend, send an email to Maya at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What to expect at the event? There will be some sort of a panel discussion on “Transforming Business Environments.” I have no idea what that means, and the topic is so generic that I’m sure the discussion will also be generic. But don’t let the prescribed agenda fool you. The agenda and panel discussion is only there to get all the people in one room. The real benefit of going to such events is the networking that happens before and after (and some of it during) the event. You meet people who can help you find customers, people who can provide some useful service to your startup, people who just generally give you some insightful piece of advice that can change the course of your startup, people who over time become advisors for your startup (we met the most important advisor of our startup at one such event).
3 hours and Rs. 100 is a low price to pay for all these opportunities.