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2/19/2008
10:28 AM
Chris Murphy
Chris Murphy
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Report From India: Warning-- A Startup Job Could Be Hazardous To Your Marriage Prospects

When Siva Prasad Cotipalli quit a plum marketing job with Oracle in India to found a startup, his mother didn't worry about his business plan. "She's worried if I'll get married," says Cotipalli, whose company, Dhanax, is a two-person, Internet-based microlending startup that I visited today in Bangalore. Startups sound cool, but in India would-be in-laws prefer to see Infosys or IBM on the business card.

When Siva Prasad Cotipalli quit a plum marketing job with Oracle in India to found a startup, his mother didn't worry about his business plan. "She's worried if I'll get married," says Cotipalli, whose company, Dhanax, is a two-person, Internet-based microlending startup that I visited today in Bangalore. Startups sound cool, but in India would-be in-laws prefer to see Infosys or IBM on the business card.Cotipalli's story says much about the entrepreneurial environment for software in India, where it's only just beginning to be considered a reasonable career move to jump to a startup, with their lower salaries along with the hope of a stock option payday.

Cotipalli and his colleague, Prashant Mishra, are building Dhanka out of a passion for how microlending could help India's rural farmers and small business people, and because they see a huge business opportunity in an underserved market. I'll have more details on the company in a follow-up post.

But in a country where company salaries can easily surge 15% or more a year, and where this isn't a long history of people cashing in through stock options, startup recruiting's tough. Most marriages are arranged in India, so parents' opinions about employment matter a lot. "There's a lot of social pressure," says Cotipalli, to work for a name brand company.

Manav Garg has seen the same bias against working for startups, though it's steadily getting better for his Bangalore company, which I also stopped by today. Garg founded EKA in 2001, and he now has 95 employees behind EKA's enterprise software to facilitate buying and managing agricultural and metal commodities. But he, too, has seen the marriage question factor in. "There was one guy who was having the problem of just not getting married," says Garg, "So he left, joined IBM, and got married in a year."

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