India outside the big cities: will non-metro entrepreneurs seize the coming decade?

A tech-enabled startup ecosystem is emerging outside India’s metros. What's driving this phenomenon?

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Tenkasi, a newly formed district in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu may soon be mentioned in the same breath as Bangalore, Hyderabad and Delhi when industry observers talk of India’s technology hubs.

Nearly 80% of the district is rural and most of its 3 million plus residents are engaged in agriculture-related work. Nestled in this idyllic green landscape, sits a modern campus in Silaraipuravu Village, Mathalamparai, where nearly 500 professionals are building software products for the world.

Covid has pushed businesses across the globe to make geography history. Well before this however, Sridhar Vembu, the founder of business software firm Zoho Corporation, walked the talk by setting up offices in Tenkasi, close to his rural roots. When Zoho, which has more than 50 million business users worldwide started operations in Tenkasi in 2011, the company already had offices in the US and Japan.

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