This is probably anecdotal for the moment, but the majority of tech industry people I know are all focused on solving engineering problems for people outside this country.

The people I carpool with, that work with GM, Qualcomm and Microsoft, are all focused on products for customers in the US and Europe; my roommates build banking services for South East Asia, hell even the company I work for has focused on acquiring US and European Clients. It obviously makes a lot of sense for them to do so, simply because that’s where the money is, especially in today’s economic climate with a rapidly devaluing rupee.

On the outset, it would seem that the only companies that are focused specifically Indian customers are giant monoliths like Unilever and our local clones of popular bay area startups. Research goes on, companies like microsoft perform some research on problems unique to the developing world, but it seems to me that these companies are few and far between. My friends and I all look down upon firms like TCS and Wipro that farm out fairly low skilled engineers to anyone with deep pockets, but are we any different? At the end of the day, the vast majority of the best of us are cheap engineering labour for international firms. Does it make a huge difference if that labour is assigned to a particular product as opposed to cycling between short terms projects every so often? How much ownership over a product can you have if the primary intended customer lives in a different continent, in completely different social, cultural and economic circumstances? Undoubtedly, the bigger firms have smarter, more driven people, but it feels like something’s missing.

I’ve always admired people that are out there solving the hardest technical problems, but I seem to be learning that the hardest things to do are handling people well and solving problems for your local community.