Senior officer at the Software Technology Park desk of the MIDC, Mrs VP Geete, is a busy person these days handling incessant calls from software professionals located in Bangalore and Pune, looking to shift part of their operations out of those two IT saturated metros.
"They are looking for cheap land, roads sans traffic snarls and good connectivity with Mumbai and other metro cities, and Aurangabad fits the bill perfectly, says Mrs Geete, as bureaucrats at her office, the main land provider, sit down to calculate how much land it needs to acquire to answer the opportunity that has come knocking its door.
With a turn over of Rs five to six crore, software industry in Aurangabad is still in its infancy and way behind on the list of second tier townships readying to cash on the IT boom.
"But, I can tell you it is a matter of couple of years for the IT business to takeover here," says Pratap Dhopte, co-founder and chief operating officer of Excelize, that churns out designs and drafting for architectural firms in US. In less than three years, Excelize has hit a turn over of Rs 2.5 crore and has increased its man force from four to thirty two, something he doubts would have come his way in his hometown Pune.
Pune is no more affordable for starters like me says Dhopte, who pays Rs 60,000 as rent for the two incubation facility premises his company occupies at the central government facilitated Software Technology Park, in MIDC chikalthana area.
Back home in Pune, where rentals stand at least three times as high and salaries almost double, Dhopte, says he could have barely managed to break even in this short duration.
Aurangabad offers me advantage of costs and comfort and a steady supply of budding architects, coming out of the two architecture colleges located here, says Dhopte, as he sets out of a tour scouting for a suitable land around the town to set his office's power centre as he prefers to call his upcoming headquarters.
Land prices around the outskirts of the town, (outskirts here means anything beyond 12 km distance from the heart of the city), cost less than Rs 200 per square feet.
In the business centre like environment that the STP itself is located, it had charged just Rs 250 per square feet when it recently sold about 32 plots.
By the end of the next financial year, Dhopte, expects his turnover to touch Rs eight crore, when he probably join hand with a venture capitalist. It would also be a time when he faces up new competition as more and more IT and ITEES, BPOs and KPOs companies from Pune begin to explore Aurangabad.
Currently three of the top seven soft companies registered with the STP here together employ over 110 engineers working at Information Technology Engineering Enabled Service, (ITEES) the number could be as high as 300 if software companies registered outside STP are added up.
"That is an impressive size for a city still trying to find a foothold on the IT map," says Mukund Kulkarni, president of the Information Technology Entrepreneurs Association, (ITEA) here and director of Expert Solutions, emphasising that the 110 employees are all either engineering or architecture graduate and not data feeding operators. With five engineering colleges in the town, there will never be a dearth of manpower shortage, though senior people do have to be roped in from metros.
Interestingly, the education scenario in Aurangabad is ready to take on any kind of demand, with schools of every kind - CBSE, ICSE, State board, Kendriya Vidyalayas and now even international schools.
"Traffic jams means we end up with more and more of non productive time. Traveling to a work place, in Aurangabad, even from the extreme boundaries of the town, will never take more than 20 minutes time even in the next five to eight years, says Mukund Kulkarni explaining why it would be now the turn of Aurangabad.
Though, compared to it two rivals, Nagpur (annual turn over Rs 48 crore) and Nashik, (annual turn over 11 crore) Aurangabad is way behind, once a big company lands here, it will take little time to catch up with Nagpur, specially given the proximity and connectivity with Pune and Mumbai, he feels.
According to a recent survey by ITEA, at least 30 per cent of the software man force working in Pune is from either Nagpur (Vidharba) or Aurangabad (Marathwada), most of who will come flocking back home should opportunity beckon them, says Kulkarni.
Close proximity to Mumbai, seven hour by train and under one hour by a flight, means senior officials could frequently travel here to oversee operations with considerable ease.
One distinct advantage that Aurangabad has is the instant recognition the two great world heritage sites around it, Ajanta and Ellora caves bring to it world wide. "We never face an identity crisis abroad," says Pratap Dhopte.