What is it about Bengaluru that it continues to attract a lion’s share of the technology talent in the country? This was the question posed to PhonePe Founder Sameer Nigam at the CNN News18 townhall on February 7. Nigam summed up Bengaluru’s appeal in three points. Despite its many pitfalls like terrible traffic and infrastructural issues, Bengaluru is affordable, has great weather and a “full ecosystem” that attracts young talent, said the PhonePe founder.
“What ticks for Bengaluru, first, is that it has great weather,” said Sameer Nigam, who started PhonePe in Bengaluru in 2015.
“Second, the startup ecosystem benefited because lions of the IT industry set up a technology pathos in the city,” he continued, referring to the 80s and 90s, when IT companies like Wipro and Infosys set up their campuses in Bengaluru, attracting young talent from across the country to the capital of Karnataka.
He said that employees of his startup found Bengaluru much more affordable than Mumbai, and could therefore find decent housing. “People find cost of living so much more affordable. And that’s important, because people working 50-60 hours a week need to be able to go back and relax. So Bangalore has got the housing scene sorted out,” said Nigam.
Lastly, Bengaluru has managed to attract talent in different fields over the years, so it today has a full ecosystem which makes it attractive to startup founders and employees alike. “Third, we finally have a full ecosystem,” explained PhonePe’s Sameer Nigam. “When Flipkart was starting out, when I joined them in 2011, the city didn’t have enough designers, product managers. Financial services ecosystem was non-existent. Now we have the best of talent here in Bengaluru and that’s important because the minute you reach some sort of scale, you need 400 500 really smart people and these want to be here,” he said.
Nigam summed up his response in one sentence: “It’s affordable, the weather’s fantastic, the food is great, there’s good nightlife – these are all the things young people want.”