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May 01, 2005

Silicon Valley Bank gets more buzz

I have blogged earlier about the good PR that Silicon Valley Bank's Bangalore office is getting in the media. Well, here's more PR for the office, this time in the Wall Street Journal:
Say you're a Silicon Valley executive assigned to set up an offshore software-development office for your company. You touch down in this high-tech hub and check into a luxury hotel. By morning, you realize you're not sure how to incorporate an Indian company, open a bank account, get legal advice or even find office space.

Not to worry: These days, you can just call Arman Zand.

Mr. Zand, who works here at a unit of Santa Clara, Calif.-based Silicon Valley Bank, enjoys a growing reputation as a go-to guy for start-up companies trying get a foothold in Bangalore, a booming city that has emerged as a global technology hot spot -- albeit one with sporadic power outages and really bad roads.

For Silicon Valley Bank's U.S. clients who are opening offices in Bangalore, the stocky, 27-year-old Mr. Zand and his small staff will do almost anything, from recommending local architects to prescreening vacant office space. They will book hard-to-find hotel rooms for visitors and even lend them cellphones...

...Ash Lilani, Silicon Valley Bank's global head of sales and marketing in Santa Clara, likens Mr. Zand's services to those of a "professional concierge." The services are offered free to U.S. bank clients and even a few promising prospects. The bank may impose a charge for more in-depth, consulting-type jobs in the future. It may also try to offer banking services in India in the years to come. Mr. Lilani, a Bangalore native who forged many of the relationships that drive the bank's Indian business, is formally in charge of the bank's office here, although Mr. Zand and his partner, Kiranbir Nag, run day-to-day operations.

It's not just the India office that's getting all the buzz. The parent firm came in for some ebullient praise recently from August Capital partner David Hornik:
SVB is unquestionably a part of the startup ecosystem in the Bay Area. They work closely with a half dozen companies in which I have invested and with dozens of companies in our portfolio. They appreciate the nature of venture backed startups and provide banking support -- including debt financing, for example -- in a way that acknowledges the nature of startup finances. SVB aren't the only bank in the Bay Area that happily accommodate startups and the unique nature of their profile (namely, their volatility and cash consumption needs) but SVB have made it their mission to court startups and help them find their way through the funding and growth life cycles typical of any successful startup (with all its ups and downs). That support is just one small piece of the ecosystem that I believe distinguishes startup favorable towns from startup hostile locales.

Arun Natarajan is the Editor of TSJ Media, which tracks venture capital activity in India and Indian-founded companies worldwide. View sample issues of TSJ Media's Venture Intelligence India newsletters and reports.