In 2015, when Gautam Reghunath was assigned to set up the Bengaluru office for digial shop Dentsu Webchutney, he thought he’d get the operations going and return to Mumbai in a year. Reghunath, who had convinced his creative director P G Aditiya to tag along, admits that the duo thought that if they had to make a career in advertising, they needed to be in Mumbai.
After a year of being in Bengaluru, Reghunath realised that it's a city that he wants to call home and work in. “Over the past five years, opportunities in advertising has multiplied in Bengaluru. The influx of startups is one of the reasons for it,” says Reghunath. In early 2022, Reghunath and Aditiya founded Talented, a creative agency that's headquartered in Bengaluru.
Content creator and food critic Adarsh Munjal, who has worked with startups in Bengaluru, says the marketing and advertising scene has been attracting talent into the city like never before. Munjal didn’t find it difficult to hire talent during his marketing stint at a unicorn. He explains, “People don’t hesitate to move to Bengaluru. It ticks a lot of boxes. There are opportunities, it’s a cultural melting pot, and most importantly, the food scene is great.”
Munjal, aka The Big Bhookad, tells Storyboard18 that the city’s food culture is one of the reasons why people move their base. From breweries, pubs, fine-dine restaurants, to authentic south Indian eateries, Bengaluru has it all covered.
Upping the experience game
Thirtysomething Geetanjali Chitnis calls herself the OG (original) Bengalurean. She believes the city has helped shape her both personally and professionally. “As tech, food, and beverage startups started mushrooming, content marketing took off too. I knew this would open up new avenues for a marketer like me. Bengaluru is truly a global city. It is traditional, rooted, but accepting of people from all walks of life,” she says.
Chitnis, who is the chief brand officer of Geist Brewing Co., believes that the city now needs to offer more experiences to its people. “It’s time for brands to bring together the best of the old and new characteristics of the city. Create experiences that lift the personality of the city,” says Chitnis. The menu and events at Geist attempt to do that. They also sponsor and distribute their products at popular city events.
It’s a joke in Bengaluru startup circles that everyone active on Twitter wants to come up with a meme that makes it to Peak Bengaluru. It's a Twitter page that regularly posts about the startup and the tech scene in the city. Nick, who didn’t want to reveal more about himself, runs the handle. He views the page as a “subculture that has been continuously evolving over the years.”
Nick started Peak Bengaluru in January 2018 because he felt there was a lot going on that wasn't captured and narrated well. “It started becoming more evident with time, especially in the startup belts of Bengaluru. The energy, the conversations, the ambition, the social media posts — you could feel and see the vibe,” he adds. As a content curator, he has been listening to and helping amplify peoples’ sentiments about the city. Nick wants to take Peak Bengaluru offline too. Community initiatives around breaking taboos, funding, and sports are in the works, he says.
Creating a city like none other
In August 2022, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai directed officials to identify a suitable place in the city to put up a Unicorn logo. The startup capital of India has the highest number of unicorns in the country. As per media reports, of the 53 Indian startups that became unicorns in 2021-22, 19 are in Bengaluru.
The businesses that are flourishing in the city can help shape the city better opines Talented’s Reghunath. “Everyone is trying to build something in the city. The energy is infectious even if you go to Third Wave Coffee or Cubbon Park. You bump into people who are ready to help you out. It’s significantly different and positive,” he adds.
However, the city is shocking and it needs a serious clean-up and infrastructural development, say Bengalureans. Nick from Peak Bengaluru agrees. “We need to work towards breaking more access barriers, while very strongly keeping checks on the ecology that made this Garden City what it is,” he concludes.
After all, you don’t want the Unicorn city to turn into a meme.