Chennai: A Phoenix Rising in the Indian Tech Landscape

The Indian startup eco-system has been on an upward growth trajectory lately. With investments galore, success stories and new unicorns rising, Indian startups have been charting new heights every day. While most of these startup success stories have come out of startup hubs such as Bangalore, Mumbai or Gurgaon yet lately we have seen a host of new startup hubs springing up across the country.

One such name is of Chennai. The fourth largest city in India, Chennai has been regarded as an automotive and industrial hub for several years. Home to over one third of Indian automotive companies, Chennai gradually also became a hotbed for IT/ITeS firms as well. The wheel of innovation moved further and the city has emerged as a rather conducive environment for tech startups.

One of the biggest success stories to come out of Chennai recently has been on Zoho Corp. The SaaS based firm has emerged as a global player in creating business tools and its founder SreedharVembu was conferred the coveted Bharat Ratna in 2021. Similarly Chennai has become the unofficial SaaS capital of the country. In April, India also got its 11thUnicorn in the form of ChargeBee, a Chennai basedSaaS firm. Apart from these names, over the years we have also seen city give us successful startup stories in the form on BharatMatrimony, Freshworks, GoFrugal, CaratLane, TVS Automobiles, NetMeds among various others. While Chennai accounts for a little over two percent of the country's tech startups, yet there have emerged strong players across all segments such as fintech, deeptech, AI, etc.

A major factor affecting Chennai's emergence as a startup hub has been the TN government's Startup and Innovation policy. Launched in 2019, the policy intended to create 100k high-skilled employment by 2023 in the startup ecosystem. Other than policy related changes, the city also benefited from its already existing IT and automobile sector. IT-enabled automobile services coupled with a network created by ex Zoho employees has acted as a catalyst. The city also benefits from its proximity to Bangalore, the undisputed champion when it comes to tech startups in India.

Another key ingredient for a startup hub to emerge is the presence of a solid support system in terms of incubators and investment firms, a factor that has often held cities such as Pune and Kolkata back. Yet Chennai is home to close to two dozen VC firms such as Omnivore Partners, Blume Ventures, Flourish Ventures among various others. Accelerators and incubators such as PayPal's incubators, Start Tank, Chennai Angels and TVS Capital Funds Limited have also played a key role in making Chennai a great city to establish a startup.

This strong policy and infrastructure push has been ably matched by a pool of talented professionals that come out of the plethora of established institutions that Chennai is home to. In terms of quality of life also, the city has developed immensely with improved healthcare, emergence of residential developments in the southern & western suburbs.

The city is gradually morphing into a startup hub and will join the likes of Bangalore, Mumbai and Gurgaon soon. It is a great time for young professionals looking out for innovative and promising startups to work for, to take a keen interest in what Chennai has to offer.

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