He became haunted by the question common to those who find wild success
at a preternaturally young age: Now what?
Granted, over the past decade, Bhatia has had his hand in several
technology startups and post-startups both here and in India, some
mildly successful, some not. But his latest project is one that comes
from the heart: He is trying to develop the Indian version of Silicon
Valley, a sustainable city spread over 11,000 acres in northern India
that he envisions will be home to 1 million residents employed largely
by world-class universities and A-list companies that act as the
country's idea generators. He calls it Nano City.
One problem: Until recently, Bhatia knew nothing about developing
cities. The 39-year-old San Francisco resident is an electrical engineer
by training and profession. And with a ton of cash in the bank, the last
challenge he thought he would face is the hassle of navigating India's
cash-under-the-table democracy, while preaching sustainable development.
India, with a population of 1.12 billion, is beset with energy and
infrastructure problems; most citizens don't have access to safe
But now - after spending $4 million of his own money and learning some
hard lessons about international development - Bhatia's project could be
on the brink of starting. This summer, he partnered with a major Indian
developer that pledged funds to help purchase the land needed in the
northern Indian state of Haryana to break ground on Nano City.
But major hurdles remain, and the project could easily fail.