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How Can A Young Twenty-Something American Find Meaningful Work In India’s Tech Startup Scene?

The How

As any twenty-something adult would, by reaching out to folks, on Twitter, over email, on Facebook, LinkedIn and here Quora. It would be even better to get on a plane to Bangalore and spend between two/three weeks meeting folks, pressing palms and soaking in the scene. That way the companies/founders get to see YOU rather than a twenty-something American they conjure up, and you get a sense of what these folks really are developing, social games or mobile apps or power electronics or whatever else they say they are doing. You could just as easily pick Pune or NCR but IMO Bangalore should do just fine. I’d begin with or to see what’s happening in the startup scene – reachout to the VCs and angels to get a sense for interesting companies they’ve heard of.

The meaningful

There’s tons of meaningful work to be had IMO in India – not just at startups – but it is probably most fun and meaningful at startups. Question is can you do it and are the companies open minded enough to give you a chance to succeed? Whether software, ticket sales, education, personal finance, publishing – there’s oodles of stuff happening and companies/startups could always use a self-motivated, reasonably self managed (read adult) who can put two coherent sentences together – whether to gather requirements, define specs, support customers, test stuff, chase customers, sell and ideally a combination of some or all of the above. Again, the best way is to get over here, drink lots of tea, press a lot of palms and within ten days, I expect you’d have multiple options.

Are India-based budding startups looking for an American with this background?


Sure, they are looking for living, breathing adults who can cross the street and pick their noses at the same time who can code, market or sell, raise money and convince other folks to join their startups. So if you fit some or all of that they are looking for you.

Would this person add meaningful value to these operations?

Hell yeah!

Would they in turn derive meaningful value themselves?

Aha, therein lies the rub. My answer is depends. Absolutely depends on the people and the team you connect with. The advantage of India is that our needs far outstrip our supply of good, let alone great, folks. In that sense, if you are reasonably good, at whatever, you can contribute and get opportunities, that you wouldn’t otherwise simply get. For instance, whether you think of yourself as a rocking sales or marketing guy or not, if your organization needs it, and it looks like you are the best guy (amongst the 2/4/20 of you), you’ll get to try your hand at it. So, you will be pitching a bunch of (possibly drunk) Japanese businessmen and making quarter million dollar deals – a chance you may never get at a valley startup (unless you are the founder). You may work in a social business that may let girls who’d never have seen high school get to work and make their own living, bring LED lighting to folks who’ve never had electricity – so darn right you may derive meaningful value at so many levels.

If you are lucky, you may find a business and figure, “Darn, I could bring this back to California, or wherever, and we could rock the world,” rather than trying to sell video discovery or hyperlocal customized newspapers to Indian guys who aren’t prepared to pay. And then you are the MAN – the go-to guy now making it happen for those Indian guys. You never know! Good luck!

This question originally appeared on Quora. More questions on Entrepreneurship in India:

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