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The changing landscape of Bangalore



I moved back to my home town of Bangalore just over six months ago now, and I see a marked difference in many aspects of the city. The most notable being in the number of people flocking to good movies, good plays, good restaurants, good pubs (on weekends and other days).

While this is definitely a consequence of the thousands of people in their twenties and early thirties migrating to the city from the rest of the country, it is also the consequence of another - the rise of one-click services. You can now buy groceries, pay your bills, recharge your phones, order a cab (or an auto), book a doctor's appointment, book a movie ticket, make a dinner reservation (or order-in), buy clothes, electronic goods, books or anything else you might like, all at the click of a button on your phone.

While this is creating immense value to customers of these products in saving time and hassle of getting basic things done, it is also creating a large number of Uber-driver-like jobs (as I like to call them) that revolves around delivery of goods, driving cars, picking up parcels, etc. While the potential effect of this is up for debate, today I want to focus on the other side. On the handful of people (the 1%?) in the technology industry who are at the heart of conceiving and building these services and making them available to the rest of the population.

With all chores and time-consuming tasks out of the way and more disposable income in hand for making those chores and time-consuming costs go away, these people are looking for varied avenues for entertainment. While a lot of startup focus today is on solving problems of this nature in a scalable manner, there isn't enough focus on disrupting the entertainment avenues, despite the opportunity.

While everyone is in the 'land-grab' mode and looking to expand aggressively by streamlining their processes (much like the rise of factory work), many are missing out on providing the human touch.

I started thinking how similar a situation we are in when I was reading about the rise of the luxury goods industry in Seth Godin's Linchpin:
"Why do so many hand-made luxury goods come from France?
It's not an accident. It's the work of one man, Jean Baptiste Colbert. He served under Louis XIV of France in the 1600s and devised a plan to counter the imperialist success of the countries surrounding France. England, Portugal, Spain and other countries were colonizing the world, and France was being left behind.
So Colbert organized, regulated and promoted the luxury goods industry. He understood what wealthy customers around the world wanted, and he helped French companies deliver it. Let other countries find the raw materials; the French would fashion it, brand it and sell it back to them as high-priced goods.
A critical element of this approach was the work of indispensable artisans. Louis Vuitton made his trunks by hand in a small workshop behind his house outside of Paris. Hermes would assign a craftsperson to work on a saddle for as long as it might take. The famous vintners of Champagne relied on trained professionals - men who had worked their whole lives with wine - to create a beverage that could travel around the world.
At the same time that France was embracing handmade luxury, Great Britain was embracing the anonymous factory. Looms that could turn out cotton cloth with minimal human labour, or pottery factories that could make cheap plates.
"Made in France" came to mean something (and still does, more than three hundred years later), because of the "made" part. Mechanizing and cheapening the process would have made it easy for others to copy. Relying on humanity made it difficult - it made the work done in France scarce, and scarcity creates value."


If you think you can do to Bangalore what Jean Baptiste Colbert did to France all those years ago, reach out to me in the comments or on LinkedIn.

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