This is Your Life in the soon to be Silicon Valley of India (Gurgaon)
You wake up at 8 AM with a headache. You blame it on the weird tasting wheat beer you had last night at one of those shady but hip looking craft breweries in Sector 29. You can’t remember the name because they all look the same and there is a new one around every time you go there. You do remember that their Zomato rating was an acceptable 3.9, but you think they’re actually more of a 3.5. You wonder if that “startup networking mixer” at that pretentious co-working space in Hauz Khas was a better idea. The thought of traffic on MG Road at night reminds you that it surely wasn’t. Also, the crowd at such things is even more pretentious, you tell yourself. You search for your phone. InShorts tells you, that same co-working space just raised 10 million, you wonder if they have openings. Living around Hauz Khas would be great.
You pick up the Economic Times and wonder why they don’t just start calling it the ‘Startup Times’. You browse through and see acquaintances on the ‘Young Leaders Awards’ list. You wonder if the application form tab is still open on your laptop and why you never got around to filling it. ‘Forbes 30 Under 30’ one day you say to yourself, then you realize you’re almost 30 already. There’s another story on Ritesh Agarwal today, you wonder where you were at 23. You were in B-School. You wonder why you went to B-School in the first place, that reminds you that your education loan installment hasn’t been paid for the last three months. You download that expense tracking app your friend just made. You try and register but the OTP never comes, you ping him saying let’s meet, you have feedback on the product you tell him. You wonder if he needs a co-founder. Another ET story talks about how Hauz Khas is emerging as a new startup hub. “Wannabe hipsters” you say while sipping that coffee you bought from Blue Tokai last month.
Your office is on Sohna Road in the same building as two almost Unicorns. You bump into employees from those companies all the time. They all hint at openings at your company. They all say the same thing — they want to do something early stage. You hint at openings at their companies — you find early stage too chaotic. You reach office by 10 AM, only the founders are in yet. They’re meeting some investors apparently. They’re always meeting investors actually. You wonder how they get any work done. You open your laptop and check Twitter, ProductHunt, TechCrunch, Pocket, iimjobs, Facebook, Buzzfeed, Slack in that order. You also check Tinder in between. You wonder how the match rate is in Hauz Khas.
People start trickling in by 11 AM. Some have laid claim to the only available meeting room. You are reminded of how quickly this company has grown. How this office of 60 seats 160 today. You wonder when you’ll move to a larger office. You ping your VC associate friend and check if he has any news on your company’s next fund raise. By now, the meeting room is witnessing an animated discussion, people are being called in, markers of all colours being used on the walls, tables, wherever possible. You wonder if they’re brainstorming on the product. You enter the room. They’re discussing who Unicon Baba is. You see names on the wall — Sumanth Raghavendra, Ashish Sinha, Anand Lunia, Mahesh Murthy and Kashyap Deorah. The founders join the discussion, they say the people they just met were discussing the same thing. It has to be someone at a Delhi based fund they say. You laugh at the conjecture, you wonder how anyone gets any work done.
It’s time for lunch already, you check Swiggy, InnerChef and Freshmenu. Nothing interesting, you decide to download that balanced calorie meal delivery app your friend just founded. The OTP never comes, you wonder why no one uses Twilio in this town, you ping your friend saying let’s meet. You remember he already has 3 co-founders, you wonder if he needs a ‘Head of Growth’. You check the Soylent website to see if they’ve started shipping to India, ‘coming soon’ it says. You check for the nearest Crossfit on one of those fitness websites, next month you tell yourself. You blame the workload at an early stage startup for your unhealthy lifestyle.
Your calendar says it’s the weekly Marketing-Product-Operations catch-up. You’re not sure who you’re representing in this meeting. You spend two hours finalizing an SOP on how to communicate between the three teams. It’s 5 PM, you laugh at the wasted time and wonder how anyone gets any work done.
The founder calls you for a chat. You tell him you’re not sure of what your role is. He says you’re a growth hacker and everything is your role. He asks you to find the things that are broken and fix them. You tell him everything is broken. You say you want to work on the product. He says you should.
Your VC friend pings saying Cyber Hub at 7 PM for a quick beer. You wonder how you’ll reach Cyber City at this time. You check the Uber app, 3.5X it says. You decide to use Pool, maybe you’ll meet someone interesting as well. You realize that really never happens, you wonder if the odds are better in Hauz Khas. You spend the 1 hour Uber ride listening to the a16z podcast. It talks about network effects. You finally feel you got something productive done in the day.
Your VC friend is impeccably dressed, you realize you haven’t shopped in six months. You ask him when your company is closing the next round and if they’re participating. He gives you the I-know-but-I-can’t-tell-you look that VCs give for everything. You ask him if he knows who Unicon Baba is? He gives you the same look. He hints at openings at your company — he wants to do something early stage. You hint at openings at his fund’s portfolio companies — early stage is too chaotic you tell him. You ask the waiter for Bira, he says it’s out of stock. You wonder if Bira is hiring, they’re based in CP you’ve heard. Living around CP would be great. You wonder what the Tinder match rate is in CP. Your friend asks you if he should get an MBA, you say definitely. An MBA will give you perspective on life you add.
Your friend from the expense tracker app pings — HUDA Starbucks, Galleria Chaayos, Di Ghent, you pick he says. You end up picking Di Ghent. Your friend is late, you can’t blame him, his office is in Udyog Vihar, also known as hell. You both spend the next hour trashing Gurgaon — the roads, the infrastructure, the people and the pigs! Yes, the pigs, you both wonder why Gurgaon has an alarmingly large wild pig population. Your friend cracks a pig — Pokemon GO joke, you tell him it was already on Twitter last week and on Buzzfeed over the weekend. Your friend is considering moving to Hauz Khas, he says the crowd is great. You hint at joining him as a co-founder — you want to do something even more early stage you tell him. He says he’s actually pivoting and then pitches his next idea. You don’t understand anything but register the words AI, machine learning, bots, on-demand, positive unit economics and network effects. You rehash some stuff you heard on the podcast and try to impress him. Your flatmates call, they’re discussing startup ideas at Machan.
Also, they found some Bira. You’re tempted but you’re taking an Android course on Udemy. You say you’re heading home.