elcome home. It is morning rush hour in Delhi-NCR. Nishant Patni has been in a cab on the road for over an hour and a half trying to get to Delhi from Gurgaon. Yet, unlike most people caught in the traffic snarl, the 33-year old can’t stop chuckling. “I’m glad I don’t have to do this every day,” says the co-founder of edu-tech startup CultureAlley.
An IIT-Bombay and Kellogg School of Management alumnus, Patni has faced such gridlocks almost daily for four years while working in various companies in Mumbai, Delhi and Silicon Valley in the US. In 2012, Patni decided to start his own venture from his hometown — Jaipur. Since then, his commute from work to home has cost him a little over two-and-a half minutes.
No study has been done to understand this reverse migration to small towns. But most such people have zeroed in on their hometowns, or its vicinity, because of the familiarity and the inherent advantages that come with it.
Sethuram, 44, worked in IT companies in the US and Germany for several years. Asher, 36, was on the verge of getting a job and permanent residency in Australia after completing his higher studies there. But over a decade ago, their families asked them to return to their home city. “Most people move back for personal reasons,” says Sethuram, who quit his job at Siemens Power Generation Services in Orlando and came back to Coimbatore in 2008.
Juicy Chemistry sells most of its natural cosmetics online. Asher, who started the company with his wife Megha, says they have benefited a great deal from Coimbatore’s relatively lower rentals and wages. “In any tier-1 city, I would be paying Rs 75-100/sqft for my 8,000 sqft production facility. Here, I pay nothing more than Rs 15-16/sqft. Even starting salaries for talent are almost half of what you would have to pay in a big city,” he says.