Next Billion Indians – City – Ahmedabad – Visit 1
Meeting the next billion Indians ready to adopt technology, smartphones and Internet.
In my quest to understand the people known to the world as the next billion Indian users adopting technology, smartphones and the Internet, I traveled to Ahmedabad with Sanjay Enishetty of 50K ventures.
Below is how Wikipedia describes Ahmedabad
Ahmedabad (i/ˈɑːmᵻdəbɑːd/; also known as Amdavad Gujarati pronunciation: [ˈəmd̪ɑːʋɑːd̪]) is the largest city and former capital of Gujarat, which is a state in India. It is the administrative headquarters of the Ahmedabad district and the seat of the Gujarat High Court. With a population of more than 6.3 million and an extended population of 7.8 million, it is the sixth largest city and seventh largest metropolitan area of India. Ahmedabad is located on the banks of the Sabarmati River, 30 km (19 mi) from the state capital Gandhinagar, which is its twin city.
Ahmedabad, Gujarat on the Map
I landed in Ahmedabad on August 27th, 2015 with Sanjay. We co-hosted the Startup Growth Masterclass at the AMA. I thank the Headstart and Startup Weekend local teams and the ecosystem at Ahmedabad for making it happen.
I was told that young startup founders at Ahmedabad are strict. They would walk out of a session if its not genuinely valuable. It was a challenge I took.
Was the session successful?
In a hall with a capacity of about 150 people, we had over 200. I still feel humbled with the view and fact that people sat on the floor (with no mats), stood throughout the session leaning on walls, shared chair to attend the session. The picture above is from the session.
Airport/ Infrastructure: The moment you land at the Ahmedabad airport, you know this city is ready and raring to grow. Once out, the roads are fast paced and you don’t feel anything less than a metro. I was introduced to the emerging infrastructure by the local cab driver. Neat and pretty impressive.
People: Full of thrill, energy, vision and focus. I met a brilliant set of people, mostly the youth that’s keen to understand the future. The one unique feature was the attitude to risk taking. The only other city I witnessed this was Raipur. One of the reasons that supports higher risk taking is the entrepreneurial history of Ahmedabad. The past generations have been businessmen who have raised multi-million dollar businesses.
Interesting Observations: The pace and patience co-exist. During the day I saw the city in action, though towards the evening the hustle-bustle got lesser. I enquired the reason and locals remarked that most people at Ahmedabad realise the value of spending time with family/ friends. Ahmedabad is a dry state. The startup ecosystem across the city is building and taking solid shape. The CIIE (IIM-Ahmedabad) ecosystem of-course has put the Ahmedabad startup ecosystem on the prominent India map.
Entrepreneurs/ Opportunities: I met several young entrepreneurs and successful traditional businessmen. There is definitely a striking difference. The traditional businessmen have made money in their own ways and do not necessarily find social media or digital tools/ technology the future. There is a shift happening though. At least they recognize the transformation. Ahmedabad has interesting opportunities in the infrastructure space as it grows to support closer and emerging cities like ‘Surat to develop into a Smart city’. There is an increasing space for SaaS software for small businesses. The next generation that’s growing family businesses is adopting the newer ways of working. They see value and possibilities.