Exploring the best startup hubs

The world’s best startups are not concentrated in one or a few countries or continents. In the internet age, successful businesses can spring up from anywhere, provided that they get the needed funding, government support and talented managers and employees. This provides a ripe opportunity for the localization industry.

Acknowledging the importance of startups in growing and sustaining economies, governments worldwide have been implementing initiatives that foster startup growth. One of the best government initiatives is the establishment of startup hubs. Those seeking new places for establishing new businesses might be highly interested to find these hubs.

The fundamental goal of a startup hub is to provide the ideal conditions for starting and growing a business. It is a place, usually a city, whose government offers a variety of perks and support to help new businesses flourish, and has the right infrastructure and people to foster business success. A startup hub becomes fertile grounds for the development of new products, services, technologies, systems and workers. Its ultimate goal is to create economic activity that leads to increasing wealth and uplifts everyone.

The following are some of the best startup hubs of the world (in no particular order).

This city-state may be small and limited in natural resources, but it is lucky to have visionary leaders and people who have embraced the goal of achieving progress. Singapore is notable for its modern infrastructure and highly educated people. When it realized it has limited human resources, the city did not shy away from bringing in people from other countries.

Singapore topped Nestpick’s 2017 index for the best startup cities. It may not be the best when it comes to salary and startup ecosystem, but it excels in terms of quality of life and cost of living. Other cities offer bigger salaries, but the higher pay is easily offset by the taxes and living expenses. Singapore has a proficient workforce especially in the tech sector. The country doesn’t only rely on local talent but also attracts skilled labor force from neighboring countries to fill vacancies in newly started companies.

 More than 25% of the world’s unicorn startups (companies with a current valuation of at least $1 billion) started in San Francisco. The area in California fondly referred to as the Silicon Valley remains to be a relevant place for startups. It may no longer dominate rankings for the best startup hubs, but it continues to serve as a preferred location for setting up business.

Silicon Valley and other parts of San Francisco are excellent places for business because of the relatively low tax, suitable infrastructure, the favorable venture capital ecosystem, proximity to academic institutions and the overall mindset that promotes risk taking, critical thinking and cooperation, to some extent. It helps a business succeed when it is surrounded by other businesses that succeeded as they took risks, pursued novel ideas and accepted failure as part of the process.

Israel’s financial center may be geographically small, but it has a global relevance that matches or even outperforms other major cities especially when it comes to the tech industry. Tel Aviv has one of the highest concentrations of startups in the world. It has more than 2,500 startups with a city population of less than half a million.

What sets Tel Aviv apart from other startup hubs is its unique culture and sociopolitical situation. Gal Kalkshtein, the investor-entrepreneur responsible for the Startup Lobby in Israel’s Parliament, noted that if there are political and security issues in Israel, they don’t affect the Israeli market. Instead, they help positively shape the investment culture in the city as Israeli entrepreneurs pursue business opportunities in the IT field in accordance to the need for powerful intelligence and technology useful in dealing with conflicts.

Moreover, immigrants in Israel help create a mindset of risk-taking and the desire to do business. An overwhelming majority of Jewish Israelis are immigrants or immigrants’ children, grandchildren or great grandchildren.

Berlin:  The capital city of the largest economy in the European Union has a vibrant startup scene. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the city transformed into a viable location for eager startups. One of the original tech hubs of Europe, it is the birthplace of a number of well-known companies such as Siemens, Neutron Games, NVIDIA Advanced Rendering Center and Native Instruments. The online music-sharing site SoundCloud was established in Berlin.

Berlin has relatively low office rent, which naturally drives many new companies to operate in the city. Rent for living spaces is also not that expensive, helping attract workers or talents to move in. It is projected that by 2020, Berlin’s startup scene will generate 100,000 new jobs. At present, Germany has the highest percentage of foreign startups in the European Union.

Stockholm:  Skype, Klarna, Spotify and Minecraft were all founded in Stockholm. The capital city of Sweden is not only known for being the location of the Nobel Prize. It also has one of the best ecosystems for startups in the world. Its unicorn startup density (ratio of the number of startups with billion-dollar valuations over the city population) is the second highest in the world.

Helsinki:  Another city that demonstrates the growth of Europe as a startup hub is the capital and largest city of Finland. Government support for new businesses is a major factor for this, but it also bears noting that the city is home to risk-taking investors, talented entrepreneurs, key influencers and accelerators. Helsinki is the origin of influential brands such as Supercell, Nokia, Rovio, Linux and Clash of Clans.

Bengaluru:  India also has a startup hub that can rival those of other countries with advanced economies. Bengaluru or Bangalore, an industrial city in south central India, boasts of a tradition of tech innovations. It was already regarded as a tech capital even before the rise of the popular web-based companies known at present. The city provides excellent support for entrepreneurs. Cultural and practical challenges abound, but the city can provide great opportunities for innovative ideas.

New York:  It’s an expensive city, but it is one that genuinely exemplifies what being a global city means. It has the prestige, access to money and many of the best talents that can help drive startup success. The city is a place of opportunities with a good startup assistance program (START UP NY).

Founding a successful venture

With the right attitude and environment, a highly successful venture can disregard location and transcend the language barrier. If there’s language disconnect, it shouldn’t be difficult to find a good translation provider. Geographical challenges in communication and operations are addressed by new technologies. The marketing of products and services to international markets has been made easier with the growing acceptance of globalization by most countries — but still, as CSA Research concluded in its “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy” study, an overwhelming majority of customers (75% across the ten countries where they conducted polls) strongly prefers products advertised in their own language.

So, reaching out to a cross-cultural consultant, dedicated linguists and local marketing experts is key to effectively market at an international level. Globalization involves sharing some common codes between cultures, but it doesn’t completely erase their differences. Nowadays, the entrepreneur and the translator are natural allies.

Startup hubs established or facilitated by governments and business groups lend excellent support to new businesses. However, ultimately, success is still dependent on the entrepreneurs themselves. It is they who decide to carefully study and plan their actions to achieve success, or rise as they fail and rise again as they encounter more setbacks.