Small Town, Big Problems, and the Startup Revolution

 

 

“Dream big and your problems become small”

Vishen Lakhiani

Perhaps the above paradoxical quote can mitigate the challenges of a small town i.e, small towns and big problems and hence a plenty of opportunities. Of late, the startup ecosystem has witnessed a gradual shift from Bangalore, Mumbai, New Delhi to Bhubhaneshwar, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Hubbali, and others. There are numerous entrepreneurs that left the big cities and started out in smaller towns. Why? Well, they opined that their product could barely be understood by the city dwellers.

The golden era for startups has just begun in India with investors throwing in money on firms started by twenty-something engineering graduates. And with such ushering, entrepreneurs in the smaller towns of India have dared to dream big. But venturing out in such places isn’t a joy ride at all. Despite the low cash burn, there is an immense scarcity of resource – especially tech resource. In addition, sustenance is always a big question mark that is further compounded by lack of investors.

In spite of all these challenges, small towners did not give up and have given birth to a plethora of startups that aim to revolutionize the ecosystem overall. Even the VC firm’s and top-notch investors are now skewed towards such firms. This speaks volume about the prowess of small-town startups.

This recent trend stemmed out of a basic understanding that small towns have problems and their problems would appear insignificant to large cities. And entrepreneurs have cashed in on it big time by mitigating issues such as renting outfits, learning English, and many others.

As long as the infrastructural issues continue to stick with small towns, startups are going to emerge from the nooks and corners that we have never heard of and in fact make it big.

 

Small Town Entrepreneurs who Made it Big

Namesh Singh, Founder, Appointy

Namesh Singh

Singh’s story is akin to a typical Bollywood movie. Jobless after graduating as an engineer. Girlfriend leaves after an eight-year-long relationship. And grief-stricken Namesh conceptualizes Appointy, an online scheduling startup. Currently, Singh’s firm caters to 78000 small businesses across 100 plus countries. From zero money to earning 6.3 lakhs per month, Namesh’s success automatically becomes inspirational, especially when the cognizance of the fact that Appointy is headquartered in Bhopal dawns upon us.

Rohith Bhat, Founder, Robosoft

Rohith Bhat

The Udupi-based Robosoft was founded two decades ago and the firm today is an app developing giant with 400 plus employees. Adding to another small town story, Rohith Bhat established Robosoft as a service provider of Apple Mac OS. Since there were few players in the market at that time, Bhat made the best use of his resources and learned along the way. This assisted him to jump into the app marketplace soon after Apple released its first ever iPhone. The Robosoft story, which stemmed out of the avenues of Udupi, is an example of how small towns are disrupting the startup ecosystem.

Nishant Patni, Founder, CultureAlley

Nishant Patni

When Nishant Patni traveled to China as an exchange student, he stumbled upon the challenges of learning Mandarin. And in no time he could co-relate the same problem to his native town (Jaipur) wherein people had the same challenge with English. This was the Eureka moment for Patni and he returned home to start CultureAlley, an app designed to help Indians learn conversational English in their native language. Today, the CultureAlley app can be accessed in 11 languages including Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam.

There are numerous such examples that flood the streets of small towns and especially at a time when the startup culture is at its peak, more and more entrepreneurs, more and more problem-solving firms are going to emerge from the gulleys of Ahmedabads, Jaipurs, Raipurs, and Guwahatis.

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