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Thoughts on India

In October I took my first trip to India. It was absolutely amazing and I came back incredibly excited about how the world is changing. I wrote down a few observations (which I also Tweeted) that I thought I would share here:

  • Driving and crossing streets is amazing: Seems to work against all odds. What seems like chaos is actually reasonably well organized.
  • In a country of 1 billion+ even smaller locales (<1 million) take on city dynamics (local small shops > large chains, heavy traffic).
  • Anecdotally, the smartphone penetration was much lower than I would have thought. Most people haven’t upgraded yet.
  • When I asked why not more smartphones, most people said data services weren’t there. (Slow 3G/no 4G)
  • Really interesting mix of optimism and pessimism. Optimism for growth and world status, pessimism for government and infrastructure.

While I’m on the topic of India, I ran across the interesting article on Uber’s success there. India is Uber’s second biggest market, but it’s currently having a bit of a headache there due to laws around storing credit card numbers. From the article:

India has stringent rules on recurring payments using credit cards: For a “card not present” transaction, as in most online or in-app payments, the RBI requires a mandatory two-step authentication system, with a verification code that is sent to a customer via text message or email. The customer then enters the code to finish the transaction.

I bring this up mostly because these sort of country-specific regulations never really occur to us as we imagine how businesses will scale. It’s not to say Uber won’t get over this (they’re already working with a payment provider to get around the issue), but it does present interesting realities to global scaling that aren’t often discussed.

December 1, 2014

Comments

  • tobias says:

    I lived there a decade ago (running a software dev shop) and returned last year to see what changed. This picture says it all to me: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tobiaspeggs/8350395220/in/set-72157632449363109 The boy can’t afford a pair of shoes, but he’s got two phones…

  • SG says:

    Hey Noah,

    Are you still in India? Would love to meet you and pick your brains.

    Thanks,
    SG

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