Forget Silicon Valley and Head to These 6 Cities Instead


The new locales for startups.

At one point in time, anyone who wanted to break into the startup scene was advised to head directly to Silicon Valley, do not pass go, do not collect $200. These days, however, a surprising number of startup hubs have popped up around the globe – and they’re giving the Valley a run for its money. If you have big dreams, but you like the idea of doing things differently, keep reading to check out the newest locales on the scene.

Bangalore, India

The bustling city of Bangalore in India’s south-west is home to more than 8.5 million people and a growing number of tech startups, thanks in part to the city’s reputation as an IT hub. (Bangalore is home to the Indian branches of big-name businesses such as Amazon and Microsoft.) One such startup is FreshMenu, which delivers chef-prepared meals on demand. FreshMenu has received US$21.5 million in funding since its launch in 2014. Another startup to call Bangalore home is FlipKart, which was recently valued at $11.6 billion. Sensing Bangalore’s growth, WeWork set up a co-working space in the city earlier this year, making it even easier for aspiring entrepreneurs to make their move in India.

Berlin, Germany

Berlin, the capital of Germany and its largest city, knows a thing or two about starting from the ground up. Post-World War II, the city was divided for decades until the reunification of Germany in 1990. In the years since, Berlin has established itself as a major player. In 2015, Berlin outranked London as the city with the highest level of investment in startups. This may be in part because trendsetters such as SoundCloud and Delivery Hero both call the city home. A mushrooming number of co-working spaces (including BetaHaus and Ahoy! Berlin) and accelerators (including Axel Springer Plug and Play) have also set up camp in Berlin. Combine these perks with a reasonable cost of living (for Europe, anyway) and you can see why Berlin is a major draw.

Toronto, Canada

Canada has plenty of perks for aspiring founders, not least of which is its proximity to America. The only problem? You’ll have your work cut out for you when deciding where to live. While Montreal has a growing startup scene, you’ll need to speak French to make a real go of it. Perhaps that is why Toronto is poised as the next big thing. Cloud-based accounting company FreshBooks and e-commerce biz Shopify both call Toronto home, so your startup will be in great company. To get you on your way, an organisation called TechToronto holds monthly meetups with talks from tech leaders, startup demos, and plenty of chances to meet like-minded members of Toronto’s startup community.

São Paulo, Brazil

In 2015, the Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking positioned São Paulo as the 12th best global location to launch a startup. The city, which is in south-eastern Brazil, was the only city in Latin America to make the list and it didn’t take long for businesses to sit up and pay attention. Later in 2015, Cubo launched a 50,000 square feet co-working space in São Paulo with the aim of bringing entrepreneurs to one location in the sprawling city. Google followed suit shortly after by launching its latest Google Campus location. Fast forward just two years to 2017, and you’ll find names such as Easy Taxi and NuBank happily headquartered here.

Sydney, Australia

The high cost of living in Sydney might turn some people away before they give Sydney a chance. But there’s a lot to like about Australia’s largest city. To start, Australia’s prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, announced an AUD $1.1 billion innovation package, including tax breaks for start-up investors, in 2016. Also, the University of Sydney’s INCUBATE accelerator and Telstra’s muru-D accelerator both reside in Sydney. Lastly, multiple companies have found their start in the city. This includes Atlassian, which was founded in 2002 and most recently valued at more than AUD $4 billion, and graphic-design company Canva, which is one of Australia’s fastest growing startups.

Nairobi, Kenya

If you really want to get off the beaten track, you may want to consider Nairobi, the capital and largest city of Kenya. In 2015, Bloomberg reported Nairobi was building a multi-billion dollar technology hub, Konza Techno City, that could support up to 200,000. Some entrepreneurs, however, aren’t waiting. In recent years, as mobile phones have popularity and internet access has risen, several startups have emerged. Ona, for example, is a mobile data collection business headquartered in Nairobi. Since its launch in 2013, the company has gone on to make data more efficient for businesses such as the World Health Organization and the World Bank. Another company, Brck, which aims to bring internet connectivity to remote areas across the world, has gained traction thanks to press from CNN and the BBC.

Bryna Howes



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