Monday, March 05, 2007

What's so special about India and China?!

Another question on the SGE Forum:
Yes, yes. The two great upcoming superpowers. So what? What is available there that you can't have in Singapore?
My reply:
Hmmm... Haven't we all asked ourselves that question - 'What's special about India/China?'

Well, I'm from India and I can safely tell you that it is much easier to start a business in Singapore than it is in India. It is much more straightforward, and nowadays there is a reasonable amount of capital available as well (as long as you have a good idea). In India, on the other hand, you've got a million other things to worry about. Right from the high(er) levels of corruption to the pitiable infrastructure (it takes >1 hr to travel 16km from my home to the airport at Chennai) you end up sucking it up to a million people just to get your business started. So why India?

Well, its simple (I think). The opportunity. Business goes where the opportunity is. Business goes where the customers are. Business goes where the money is. With a burgeoning middle class and increasing amounts of disposable income, this billion-strong market is ripe for business - almost any kind of business. I think this is the single strongest reason for this sudden love for India/China. Of course, the large pool of professionals, increasing penetration of broadband, etc are contributing to this trend as well. But its the market and the opportunities that top the list. So much so that entrepreneurs and businesses are overlooking the disadvantages of corruption, bureaucracy and infrastructure to get to this market.

With that said, I must say that I wasn't really impressed with the state of the web startup sphere in India. There are a few web startups here n there... a few Youtube clones, a few digg-clones... all of them virtually unknown. The only really popular web-destinations are the matrimony sites. Isn't that unusual, especially considering the fact that India has the single largest population of web developers in the world?! Why is it that India's 'upcoming-super-power-brother' China paints a whole different picture as far as web startups are concerned? Hmmm... There could be a number of interesting reasons for this. But that warrants a whole other discussion Smile
Any thoughts?