Startups · Entrepreneurship

Best Startup City - Outside the USA?

Edvin Stokic Investor Relations at Pristine Advisers NYC

November 30th, 2016

I know the recommendation is that your startup should locate in the Bay Area or another startup hub for the best access to resources and networking.

But for many people, the US is not an option. These days you can't necessarily easily get a visa, especially if you're a young startup.

So, the question is, what location is the most like SF in all the ways that are beneficial for starting a startup but outside the USA?

We're a two person team. Founders have been together for a decade. One is engineer with deep experience, other is marketing and design expert. We're already slightly successful with our first product that has pointed the way to the Big Product for us.

We can relocate just about anywhere in the world, except the USA. Our passports will allow us to visit most countries without a visa and we should have little trouble getting work/residency visas in countries that welcome entrepreneurs.
So, where's the silicon valley besides silicon valley?
We've thought about: Toronto- seems to have a very strong startup scene, but this is just an impression.

Bratislava- Near vienna, but relatively low cost. Seems to be growing in leaps and bounds and has a well educated populace. Environment of low regulation and capitalism, so this could be the startup hub of the next decade. Might not be that now.

Big Cities in Asia- There are a number of candidates here, from Manila to Bangkok. Seems the creation of a middle class has unleashed a wave of creativity and desire to create internet startups amongst the youth in asia. Hong Kong is an obvious possibility.

But these are just impressions. We'd like to find a place where there is the possibility of having relatively low costs, since the access to venture capital will not be the same as it would be if we were in the Bay Area.

But access to talent, and more importantly, a startup culture seems like it would be really valuable.

But where can you find this best outside the US?

Robert Barzelay Managing Partner GlobalStrategists

November 30th, 2016

Tel Aviv. Israel is the startup nation (read the book with the title). The past 2 years, especially the past 6 months, investments per capita have been the world's highest and in terms of number of startups (per cap.) the highest. Second choice: Amsterdam (but also Rotterdam and Eindhoven). The Netherlands is World's #4 in innovation. Great infrastructure, multilingual, foreigner-friendly, multicultural. Download their stats

Damir Čaušević Head of IoT Business Development @ M2H Global Ltd.

November 30th, 2016

Hello Edvin. Did you consider Czech Republic? Prague is hot, not only due to venture capital, but as well for the connection with ESA (European Space Agency). Brno (where I live) is known as CEE's "Silicon Valley" (of course, a bit pumped then it really is), while as well you'd have direct relationship to Vienna, Bratislava, Munich, Berlin, Budapest, Warsaw and other startup lead countries like Netherlands and UK. Best regards, Damir Čaušević IČO: 04830725 Phone: +420 607 087 374 E-mail:

Joanan Hernandez CEO & Founder at Mollejuo

December 1st, 2016

Hello Edvin,

Take my opinion with skepticism, because is just an opinion.

Don't bet the success of your endeavour because of location. Thanks to globalization you can build and operate your company anywhere. I'm not saying that shouldn't be open to move, but moving before you have something already running is making endeavour harder than already is. If your product gets the proper traction, it won't matter where you're.

Indeed location improves your chances of success, but only slightly. To a point that's not significant. If your endeavour involves VCs, angles and other types of funding as essential begin, then, location does affect things. But don't be going to any startup hub believing funding will be easy. As a matter of fact, getting attention (even with some sort of traction) is hard, because on those startups hubs, competition for financing it's also cutthroat.

With that said, Toronto is a good place for the previous given reasons. Canada has an startup visa, which up until today only two companies have been able to proclaim those type of visas (go figure!). To get considered for an Startup visa your company has to have first traction. So, its not a direct route. As a matter of fact, it's easier to immigrate to Canada as an skill worker than as an Startup visa holder. In any case, the procedure for formal immigration, to any country takes labour. Labour that distracts you from you endeavour.

Best of lucks!

Francisco Gomes General Manager at Beagle Lab | Professor at FAAP

November 30th, 2016

hi Edvin,

Check out, Portugal (Lisbon | Porto) and its startup scene in last years seems very interesting. Obviously, there are trade off - cost of living x VC´s enviroment | competitive/qualified workers x international startup Case....anyway, could be one to put in your radar. cheers!

Steve Shapiro Managing Partner at eHealth Ventures LLC

November 30th, 2016

AS Robert Barzelay, Israel has become number 2 to Silicon Valley with a strong ecosystem, infrastructure and economy.  However, cost of living is higher than Eastern Europe locations.  Partly depends on the what the company is focused on.  I have a successful venture in Israel and familiar with the ecosystem

Chris Hill Love building businesses. Marketing, product, fundraising, delighting customers, making money,

November 30th, 2016

Bangkok has a growing tech industry and is very cheap to live and employ there. Berlin is cranking and the government is very startup friendly right now. I spent the last few years working on a project in Vancouver. There are a ton of great engineers there and some money floating around. The BC government is very friendly to start-ups and gives nice tax breaks for R&D investment (we made payroll more than once with the tax rebate).

Chris Maeda President & CEO, Brick Street Software, Inc.

November 30th, 2016

I'm an angel in Toronto and it does have a good startup scene. While smaller than the SF/NYC/BOS scene, it is also vastly improved compared to 5-10 years ago.

Some features:

1. NAFTA provides easy access to the US market
2. Easy immigration laws compared to US
3. Integration with the SF, NYC, and Boston startup scenes

Check out this facebook group if you want to do more networking:

Good luck.


Dane Madsen Organizational and Operational Strategy Consultant

November 30th, 2016

Toronto or Vancouver are hot spots and have government support with a great supply of skills - both have high acceptance to both the USA and Asia, especially China and HK. Dane Madsen 206.900.5852 Mobile Sent from my mobile device. Forgive typographical and grammatical errors.

Sudarshan P CEO at Association of Schools & Colleges of Optometry

November 30th, 2016

Bangalore, India Prof P Sudarshan

Dimitry Rotstein Founder at Miranor

November 30th, 2016

Tel-Aviv is indeed a great startup hub. Yes, it's a bit expensive, but there are cheaper options in the surrounding area. Haifa is noticeably cheaper than Tel Aviv, for example. By Israeli standards it's considered to be far from Tel Aviv, but actually it's just a 40-minute train ride away - kind of like going from San Francisco to Silicon Valley.