#SmartMove Accel

3 critical questions technology professionals have before moving back to India to a startup #SmartMove

Yesterday, Accel partners had an event in Seattle as a follow up to their events in San Francisco and the Bay area. This was a part education and part recruitment event for Indian technology professionals who want to move back to India to work at a startup.

As the Indian startup ecosystem matures, there is a critical need for talent, and what better place to seek it than the startup and technology hubs in the US, where there are a ton of Indians? The SF bay area, Seattle, New York are places where many young Indian technology folks have this ever secret (or not so secret) desire to move back to India.

The challenges, for these professionals, have always been 2 fold so far – a) seeking great quality of work – challenging, innovative and cutting-edge and b) getting fairly compensated for the same.

Or so I thought.

Turns out, the new millennial generation has other questions in mind. These recent entrants coming from India in the last 5-10 years and in their 30’s have very different questions they want to address than the ones the folks in their 40’s and 50’s had.

Which is not surprising, given that they have a more recent perspective on the things happening in India and have likely left for the states in the last few years, after the startup boom has taken over much of the new hiring in India.

Many of them have 3 interesting perspectives which I found out from my discussions with the 30+ people who attended the session yesterday. Some of them are things they learned from their friends, some they read on Facebook and Twitter and the rest they see during their annual visit to India to meet friends and family.

First, they believe that the “startup” boom is largely not real and there is one Flipkart (most of them think they will lose to Amazon in the long term or get bought by them).

Second they believe that the startups themselves are mostly copycats of US technology companies, with very little differentiation and innovation.

Finally they believe that the boom time for startups will be followed by a bust and at that time, in India, getting a job at a larger company, will be much harder.

These, while fair impressions from afar, they speak to how little the perception has changed among the Indian community for startups from India.

Perceptions aside, the main 3 questions I have gotten from younger entrepreneurs since I have moved back are the following:

  1. Which startup should I join? Most of them almost exclusively want to (not judging here) join a “stable startup” – which in itself is an oxymoron, BTW. Parse, through that statement, and the reality is they want a “stable” job at a smaller company than Wipro or Infosys, get paid very well and have a good upside, compared to working at a larger multi-national like Microsoft or Amazon in India. When you ask them what their interests are beyond making money and working on “cool tech”, you will end up getting specific areas of technology, such as drones, block chain, etc.
  2. Is the culture at the startup like an American / global company or still hierarchical like you will find in a large Indian company? Parse through that question, and what they are really asking is will I have the ability to influence decisions and make an impact on the direction and strategy or just be another employee at another startup. Another part of the same question, asked differently is “Will my experience here in the US be respected or will I be told, that’s great, but it does not work here in India”?
  3. What can I expect in terms of pay and benefits? There’s nothing to parse here. They want similar or “identical” pay to what they make here, with the benefits of being at home with family. Yesterday, Dinesh and Narayan from Accel gave them indications that they can expect from 40% – 60% of their pay they are making here in the US as their salary in Bangalore. Their benchmark was dependent on not salaries, but the “value” the employee would bring to the startup founders in India.

If you are an entrepreneur in India, at a later stage of your company and are looking to tap into talent from the US, especially it the areas of product management, engineering or marketing, I’d say these are the top 3 questions you will get – Why should I join your startup (vs. Flipkart, Myntra, Snapdeal etc.)? Will I have an impact in the direction an culture? Will you pay me well and will I have a great upside?

Which is not at all surprising, given that’s the same questions you’d get from Indian employees as well.

Except the employee from India, will likely have expectations of “bonus”, “perks” and a whole host of other benefits, which the US employees will take for granted, I suspect.

The employees from India, though, from my experience order the questions differently.

The first question is of the pay and benefits, the second of stability and the third of “location” – Koramangala vs. Indiranagar or Gurgaon vs. Greater Kailash or Andheri vs. Navi Mumbai is a big deal to them.

2 thoughts on “3 critical questions technology professionals have before moving back to India to a startup #SmartMove”

  1. That is also my impression. I have gone and seen a few incubators with startup companies in Bangalore. I also spoke to staff members in these risky ventures. They all expressed their worries about future growth and funding. Startups just had tables. chairs, and laptops with network connection and nothing else. Some did not even have a white board. Mostly the staff spent time on the net and did not have interaction with each other. I don’t know how these will make it.

  2. Very true. In India most of the startup models are inspired from some western startup model. The budding entrepreneurs admires the work culture of foreign startups and try to implement them as well but very soon they end up that flat hierarchical culture in a very drastic way.

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