One of the most common questions I – as an entrepreneur – get is: “Why did you choose Belgaum? Why not Bangalore?”. Yes. It is true that Bangalore has established itself as the IT hub aka the Silicon Valley of India. Indeed, Bangalore today is known the world over for the IT presence in the city and not the numerous gardens it hosts. So why did I choose Belgaum? or rather why would anybody choose Belgaum over a much better alternative i.e. Bangalore? This article attempts to help our readers understand the IT industry the way it is today and in the process eradicate some of the myths surrounding it.
Is location important?
Everything in this world today is wired. Over the years internet technology has matured so well that one can not live with out it especially in the IT industry. Any offshore development done is delivered via the network. Software like any other commodity item can be sold online through websites. So then the question: Is location really that important? Absolutely not. There are companies in Belgaum whose employees virtually work in the UK and USA while physically they are still in Belgaum.
For a company/business that has just started it is important to keep its running costs as low as possible. Belgaum being a second-tier city provides the low-cost advantage over other major IT hubs such as Bangalore. Cost of leasing/renting an office in Bangalore compared to one in Belgaum is way too high. Such higher running costs builds up pressure on a small startup to start making profits. Pressure is not good for business.
Bigger cities provide loads of facilities to people living there. These include access to ultra-modern shopping malls, cinema houses, international airport, etc. However, all this comes with one major problem and that is heavy traffic. Such cities are overly populated and their roads full of vehicles plying each way. My friend’s working in such bigger cities take at 2hrs on a average to go from home to their offices. That amounts to 4hrs in the traffic each day. In addition to this, they have to start early in the morning else it take even longer.
Time is an important factor of growth in a early stage startup. One has to give it the maximum time and attention. You cannot afford to feel tired because of all the day-to-day traveling. Working in a smaller city like Belgaum saves a lot of travel time. Today you can reach from one end of Belgaum to the other end in about 30mins in peak traffic. If you choose to have you office closer to your house like I have, thats even better. You can afford to have a good sleep, wake up fully rested and give your best to your working day each day all year along.
People seem to think that if a company is in Belgaum then it only caters to local customers. This is not true. These people need to open their eyes and wake up and embrace the new age, the new technology, and the new ways of global businesses. Another common myth is that if you are in a city like Bangalore you are more likely to get new customer leads. This totally depends on what service one has to offer in the business. If you have established good networks all around leads can fall in place from anywhere on this planet.
This one is particularly for the young and hungry job seekers. The feeling is that if you work in a city like Bangalore that hosts thousands of companies you are more likely to progress faster in your career than by working for a company in Belgaum. In the IT industry the way people progress in their careers is by changing their jobs i.e. switching companies for a better offer. This is good for the bank accounts but not so good for the bad days that are now coming around every so often. By jumping jobs one becomes “the Jack of all trades and Ace of none” kind of a person. During a recession period this is the guy a company will look to get away with. Unfortunately, except a few the whole IT force in India falls in this category today.
My advice to the youth coming out of college is to look for that one thing in IT that interests you, go for it, learn it and master it. Be an Ace not a Jack and you will see employers flocking to you (not the other way around). Go for the knowledge rather than money. Go watch the movie – “3 Idiots” if you haven’t got it yet.
Belgaum startup or any startup for that matter might pay a lower salary but there is a huge potential to learn. You are going to be a core member of a team where your say really matters unlike being one amongst several thousands an MNC or a big service giant already has. Initially you might feel left behind by comparing their friend’s salary which could be 2 or 3 folds more than yours. However, unlike your friend’s, your career growth is directly proportional to the company’s growth. You put in more effort, the company does well and in turn you do well in the company. Your work will be much much rewarding. Being small allows the company to share its profits with its employees easily. That is to say if the company makes millions in profit you make millions too! It is always better to join a company which is small and be counted.
I think I made my point. Having said that please do comment if you have anything to add to this or you feel otherwise. Please note that I in particular have nothing against Bangalore or people living in Bangalore. This article was an attempt to show the reader what lies beyond Bangalore in a place like Belgaum.