Silicon Valley elsewhere

by Thiyagarajan Maruthavanan (Rajan)

I like Paul Graham's articles very much even though I find couple of his articles amusing where he uses somewhat of a short cut logic to derive a conclusion.

His latest article titled ‘How to be silicon valley’ is by far one of the best articles I have read so far. Also so because it touches a favorite topic of mine. I have earlier reflected on few of my thoughts about silicon valley & India here ( here, here & here).

Here is more of my reflections on few of his Keypoints

  • You need nerds and rich people to build silicon valley.

Once I wondered as to how many nerds are there in India, but I am quite convinced now there are many many of them ;). A proxy of that number could be around ~856 ( 121 + 110 + 207 + 208 + 162 + 48) [Can you guess this calculation ?, I will post it in comments if anyone is interested J]

But where can I find the kind of rich people that he mentions. One could probably count such kind of people by hands in a country of 1 billion people.

  • You don’t need big building to make a silicon valley,

There are many technology parks that have come up across many cities in India and large part of them are for BPO’s and IT services and even though many are for helping small scale( STPI ?? anyone) atleast in paper but they are largely for large corporations. What is needed is support when startups are in garage. There are a couple of incubators that have come up which are more or less trying to cater to this role.

  • You need Universities.

Paul here is repeating what Saxenian had said long ago but this is the most important point. It is no surprise that great civilization (like the Mohenjadaro & Harappa) were built where the river banks were ( the Indus River). Universities thus are like the Indus river for civiliazations of Silicon valley

Couple of cities in India have seeded themselves in the right way keeping this in mind. An older example of this is Bangalore where you have the best of the nerds in IISc and the investors flocking the city for various avenues and reasons. Also you have IIM in Bangalore which is where some the managers of investors originate/hangout. The latest example is Hyderabad. Here you have a nice place called IIIT where a lot of nerds hang out and sharing a boundary wall with this institute is the limelight hogging Indian School of Business where a lot of investors hang out if not for anything else but just to check out the out of the world dorms in ISB.

  • Universities are the seed and then you need young people (nerds) and city that people want to live in.

Different people prefer slightly different choice as far as these two city goes but both of these cities are rated as highly desirable to live among any nerd that I have met in so far.

  • You need time for this to happen organically

This is true but by but it is a painful and long process. This might take a generation of a lifetime to grow

  • You need compete with silicon valley

This I am not too much worried about this because somehow the kind of signals many of the VC firms are giving are that they are moving from Silicon Valley as it is got saturated already.