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India’s male startup entrepreneurs have trouble finding wives—and the government isn’t helping things

AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade
A mass wedding in Mumbai, India, where presumably not many of the grooms work for tech start-ups
By Naomi Rovnick
IndiaPublished Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

If you are an Indian man in search of a wife, try not to found a tech start-up. That, at least, is the conclusion of the authors of the World Start-up Report, a project surveying start-up conditions in multiple countries led by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Bowei Gan.

According to the latest chapter of the report, which covers India, Indian families tend to frown on tech start-up founders (presumably they mean male founders, as Indians traditionally expect men to be breadwinners.) Creating a tech company has “high social risks,” they say. In the eyes of Indian parents, they add, being a start-up founder is “like being a struggling artist (without the glamour).” They also comment that “to convince someone [presumably male] to join your start-up, you’ll likely end up needing to convince their entire family.”

Indian tech entrepreneurs struggle, as the report highlights, because the nation’s poor internet infrastructure and unhelpful regulations offer few opportunities to start thriving internet-based businesses. (India’s woeful lack of innovative technology companies was also discussed in detail here by the Economist.)

While American parents may be thrilled to see their son or daughter marry the person who could be the next Mark Zuckerberg, this concept of silicon riches has not hit India yet. The nation has only had one tech IPO that did not come from its well-established IT outsourcing sector, the start-up report points out. And of course, India lacks brand name internet businesses to rival Facebook or China’s Alibaba.

The difficulties of building a tech business in India are easily explained. The country only has 10% internet penetration and its regular power cuts make using computers a pain. Meanwhile, e-commerce is thwarted by the nation’s terribly undemocratic and undeveloped banking system. The nation had 18 million active credit cards as of the first half of last year, within a working age population of 498 million.

The start-up report also bemoans India’s lack of internet cafes. That sector has not thrived due to regulations designed to prevent activities where criminals could benefit from using an anonymous computer, such as planning terrorist attacks.

But the report does express optimism about a small crowd of Indian tech start-ups that are succeeding despite all of the issues (and their male employees’ lack of marriage prospects). One company it mentions is Flipkart, a Bangalore-based online retailer that allows customers to pay cash on delivery.

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