What makes Gurgaon the country’s start-up capital?

A few years ago, turning down a job to start your own company would have seemed like career suicide to some, but for Gurgaon’s new-age start-up owners, it’s more than just taking a shot in the dark. In 2012, Gurgaon beat India’s Silicon Valley – Bengaluru – in net penetration and took a giant leap forward in the digital race, and has come a long way since. Home to 250 Fortune 500 companies, Gurgaon generated 12,000 job vacancies this year alone – all thanks to the ever-increasing start-ups and e-commerce companies in the city. And with Gurgaon-based start-ups being in the news every other day for raising millions of dollars, entrepreneurs are very optimistic about Gurgaon’s booming start-up market. We speak to some of them to know what makes Gurgaon an ideal start-up hub.

Has an urban population that will buy the products

According to Jatin Bhandari, founder and CEO of PythaGURUS Education, it is Gurgaon’s urban crowd that plays a major role in turning the city into a very promising incubator for start-ups. “The people of Gurgaon are well-off, know what they want and can afford to get what they want. The city’s urban population is willing to buy the products or services that the start-ups have to offer, and that’s what encourages more start-up owners to set base here.”

When the 2012 report said that Gurgaon had high internet penetration, it meant that more households in the city use internet than any district in the country. In this, it beat IT hubs like Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and metros like Delhi, Mumbai as well. Making the same point, Shrey Gupta of OYO Rooms says, “The consumers in Gurgaon are educated, well-travelled, wealthy and extremely tech savvy. They even order their groceries online! This is why the city is the best test market for products.”

Easier to find a co-founder in Gurgaon

Sudeep Singh, country director, Start-up Grind, which is a community that helps connect entrepreneurs and holds events every month in NCR, says, “You’ll find people from all around the world in Gurgaon and because it is so diverse, it is very easy to find a co-founder here. This is because unlike Bengaluru, where you’ll mostly find people deeply inclined towards technology, the business development perspective is stronger in Gurgaon.This, coupled with the co-working spaces available in the city, increases the chances of finding like-minded people in the Millennium City.”

Talking of diversity, Dhruv Dutt Sharma, CEO of Guesthouser.com, adds, “NCR has five times the population of other popular metros, for instance Bengaluru. Due to the enormity of its audience and the vast multidisciplinary talent pool, Gurgaon is a great place for a start-up. Hence, testing your product and acquiring top-notch talent becomes much easier.”

Ex-Google director and entrepreneur Palash Jain elaborates, “With people from nearly every nook and corner of India in Gurgaon, start-ups have an advantage as they can be on the lookout for feedback from a large number of people from different cultures, which helps validate their products or service ideas quickly. In addition to that, which city has a world class Metro, an international airport within a 10km distance and six different states at just a few hours drive, giving access to diverse manpower and markets?”

Vicinity to IIT and other big universities

Sameer Maheshwari, founder of HealthKart, a fitness start-up, says, “Not just a fair number of established technology companies, but unlike Bengaluru, Gurgaon also has access to prominent universities such as IIT Delhi, DTU, FMS, MDI, among others. Additionally, modern living options and cultural diversity in the town attract international talent, which is the trend for new-age start-ups these days.” Palash says, “There is a great pool of talent willing to work in start-up environments in Gurgaon. Being in the vicinity of Delhi University and other colleges helps start-ups in hiring interns who want to gain practical exposure, and also add value to these new companies.”

Cost of rental space is lower

Though not only unique to Gurgaon, but having a low cost of rental space further helps the city in becoming the ideal start-up hub. “Within Gurgaon, the monthly rent varies from `100/sqft to `40/sqft for commercial space, which suits nearly every pocket,” says Palash. Jatin Bhandari adds, “Access to cheap real estate is number one on my list. If you look deeper, Gurgaon is split into two halves – old and new – and you will get plenty of good locations at minimum costs.”

Good mix of retail, entertainment and dining options

Saurabh Chadha, COO of Meragrocer.com, says, “We chose Gurgaon to launch our company as the city offers a vibrant crowd from across the globe and is truly an international city. It’s the ideal market to launch any new product or service as the customer profile is varied. But apart from quality commercial real estate, availability of talent, high spending power and affordable housing, Gurgaon also has a good mix of retail, entertainment and dining options.”

Gurgaon from an employee’s perspective

“Why is it that sometimes, two employees working in the same company at the same location, and performing similarly, have very different satisfaction levels?” asks Palash. He has a few recommendations to make, which he says could make working in Gurgaon a great experience. “Prefer less than a 5km distance between your work place and residence, otherwise traffic is going to sap your energy. Choose your company or place of residence accordingly. Gurgaon, being the hub of IT, BPO and auto companies, offers varied career options which candidates find attractive, as most of their friends can get a job at close proximity of each other. Also, it’s better to arrive 30 minutes early to office instead of getting stuck in traffic for hours. Look for a flexible work culture and opt for an 8.30am to 4.30pm schedule to beat ‘peak’ hour traffic,” he says.