Mumbai – an exciting city for creatives

Mumbai – an exciting city for creatives

Uber and co-working spaces, upcycled furniture, hipster counter-culture and startup hubs – anyone reading this could be forgiven for assuming I’m talking about East London, or Cupertino, or any other of those global locations where wearing a suit to the office is just not done.

But no, this is Mumbai, India. A recent trip to this buzzing modern city revealed a metropolis very much geared towards startups and as obsessed with apps and innovations as any other modern economy.

You may not think of India as a global centre of startup activity but it recently appeared in a Business Insider UK Top 20 hottest startup hubs in the world list.  It has also been responsible for a number of incredibly successful new businesses, from Cleartrip, Faasos, Furlenco and Magic Bus to unicorns such as Flipkart and InMobi, which come in at over $1 billion on the value front.

Perhaps that’s not so surprising when you consider that India is the fifth largest retail industry in the world and the Number 1 sourcing destination for the global IT industry.

Visiting Mumbai, as part of Creative Social, highlighted to me just how fast India is becoming a creative hub for fledgling businesses, from the enabling nature of the city itself, to the businesses and people who are flocking to the startup community here.

While staying in the city, guests from all over the world were given an insight into the local startup community, its successes and support structures, as well as those who are driving it forward.

The fusion of traditional and modern here is one of the reasons why it is becoming such a vibrant and inspiring place. During a session with Lightbox Ventures, an entrepreneur-focused VC with at least one unicorn to its name, we discovered that in 2015 and 2016, 98,473 new companies were incorporated – a vast amount of energy is currently going into new business here.

Taxi Fabric is a prime example of one of India’s best known start-ups hailing from Mumbai.  Founder Sanket Avlani turns taxi interiors into canvases to create an outlet for designers to enhance the travel experience of thousands of locals.

The inspiring contemporary interpretations of traditional images are designed to awaken emotions and spark conversations. The business is a simple illustration of how creative and versatile businesses are when it comes to seeking out now opportunities from what already exists.

I came away from Mumbai with a head full of many of its most fascinating sights, sounds and smells. But I was also left with a sense of the city as a goldmine of talent and a place of incredible entrepreneurial spirit.

The energy, ambition and influences old and new make this city a very exciting experience from the creative perspective – and a destination that has a lot more to give.

Mark Terry-Lush