The 7 Most Inspiring Cities For Young Entrepreneurs
Where you live and who you surround yourself with are key components to success. Let’s not kid ourselves. Anyone who is fortunate enough to live in the United States has an upper hand on someone who lives in Kenya, at least when it comes to making money. So where’s the best place to live if you’re a young entrepreneur looking to network, scale your business and win investment?
Well, young entrepreneurs are increasingly flocking to places beyond Silicon Valley, as new cities flourish and demographics ebb and flow to a changing current. To give yourself the best possible foundation for success, it helps if you’re surrounded by like-minded people. The success of others gives us that extra motivation to work hard and build for the future, and helps us bring ideas and possibilities into the realm of reality.
So to help you realize that there is in fact a vibrant start-up world outside of the Bay Area, we’ve picked seven cities that are some of the most inspiring places to live if you’re a young entrepreneur (in no particular order!).
1. Berlin, Germany
Let’s start by casting our gaze across the map to the capital of Germany – Berlin. Berlin is in the midst of a modern day tech renaissance, and its startup hub is proving to be one of the fastest growing in Europe.
Berlin is the largest city in Germany with a population of 3.6 million. Today, there are more than 2,500 tech startups, up over 2,000% in the last ten years. And the city’s digital sector is growing quickly. In fact, according to the Investitionsbank Berlin, the government’s regional economic development agency, there are 70% more digital jobs today than there were in 2008.
When it comes to investment capital, Berlin doesn’t mess around either. Believe it or not, Berlin’s startups won more than $2.5 billion in venture capital last year, according to Ernst and Young. To give you some perspective, Berlin generated more venture capital funding in 2015 than cities like London, Paris and Stockholm! Impressed? We certainly are.
Alongside a vibrant nightlife, cheap rent and a surging youth population, Berlin is an easy feature on our list.
2. Stockholm, Sweden
673 miles North-East of Berlin lies Stockholm, nestled on Sweden’s eastern shores. With a population of 925,000, Stockholm is a small city with a big influence. Here’s something that might surprise you. Outside of Silicon Valley, Stockholm has produced more “unicorns” (startups valued at more than $1 billion) than any other city per capita in the world. Skype, Spotify and King (parent company of Candy Crush) are just a few of those unicorns that you’re probably quite familiar with.
Spread across fourteen islands, Stockholm is the cultural and economic centre of Scandinavia, and its burgeoning tech scene has been bolstered by heavy funding rounds and deep ties to wealthy venture capitalists. In 2015, more than $1.1 billion was invested over 175 disclosed funding rounds. With a cosmopolitan atmosphere, high quality of living and one of the happiest populations on the planet, it’s safe to say Stockholm well and truly deserves a place on our list.
3. London, England
Our last stop in Europe takes us to the bustling streets of London, England. Long touted as Europe’s chief economic hub, London lends itself well to young entrepreneurs looking to grow their businesses, develop ideas or network with like-minded peers. With a population of nearly 8 million, London’s size, scope and influence truly reverberates across the planet.
Within the city itself, a flurry of investment and funding rounds has seen the emergence of a new tech hot spot, dubbed “Silicon Roundabout.” While it might not be quite as impressive as its namesake, the area surrounding Old Street station does boast the reputation as one of the fastest growing startup hubs on the planet. In fact, London-based tech companies raised over $2 billion in 2015, smashing the $1.3 billion total raised in 2014. And with a total of 13 London-based unicorns, England’s capital is well and truly a startup success story.
Aside from the money, London is also a great spot for young entrepreneurs, with 70+ coworking environments packed around popular spots in the city’s up and coming East End. Don’t be put off by London’s size either; it’s easy to get around, and although rent isn’t cheap, you can find good deals if you do some digging. Areas like Shoreditch and Hoxton have been re-born, as a new generation of millennial entrepreneurs roam the streets. Without a doubt, London has definitely earned its spot on our ‘most inspiring cities’ list.
Once Hong Kong’s little brother, Singapore has now thrust itself into the global spotlight. In fact, it’s holding its own as one of the world’s leading financial centers. The government has played an instrumental role in supporting the local startup scene, which is perfectly positioned to benefit from its regional significance amidst a number of booming Asian markets.
With a population of around 5.5 million, Singapore packs a lot into a small area. The city has one of the highest GDP’s per capita in the world, with the average person taking home over $72,000 a year. In 2015, more than 220 funding deals were completed in Singapore at a value of just over $1 billion. Not too shabby.
Considered a gateway to the rest of Asia, Singapore definitely offers young entrepreneurs something different and unique. It might not be for everyone, but the city’s location and rapidly growing tech and startup scene may appeal to forward-thinkers or those with specific interests in the region. However, the high cost of living and a shortage of investment past series B funding may be off-putting for some. Still, it’s clear that Singapore is only going to grow in significance as the region develops and more tech-savvy entrepreneurs flood the city.
5. Sydney, Australia
3,916 miles South-East of Singapore sits Sydney, Australia, with a population of 4.92 million. Famous for its warm weather, friendly locals and dazzling beaches, Sydney is now making a splash outside the ocean.
A number of tech incubators and accelerators have popped up over the past decade, as tech talent flocks to the region. For young entrepreneurs, Sydney offers a fantastic lifestyle and the opportunity to join a growing network of startups defining the future of entrepreneurship in the Oceania region. Successful companies like Atlassian, Campaign monitor and Freelancer.com show that Sydney has some serious potential when it comes to startups.
In fact, Sydney-based graphic design startup Canva has just raised a further $15 million in funding, taking its valuation to an impressive $456 million. It’s not a unicorn just yet, but the seeds for success are firmly planted in the Sydney soil. Altogether, it’s easy to see why many young entrepreneurs are proud to call Sydney home – and why many more are planning on making the leap.
6. New York, USA
Finally, we’re going to take a trip to the United States, and where better to start than the Big Apple — New York City. With a population of 8.5 million, New York is a financial and cultural titan, and boasts a fun, vibrant city simmering with life, lights and noise.
“Silicon Alley” is Manhattan’s take on the tech scene, and is home to 13 New York-based unicorns. To really put things into perspective, New York generated a whopping $7.3 billion in venture capital investment during 2015. That’s no chump change.
So far, the investment is paying off. WeWork, valued at over $10 billion, found its humble origins on the profitable streets of Manhattan. Aside from the wealth of investment, New York is great for young entrepreneurs looking to network, share ideas and collaborate with like-minded people. Cost of living is expensive, but you’re paying to live in one of the greatest cities on earth. If walking down the canyons of Manhattan can’t get you inspired, I’m not sure what will!
7. Silicon Valley | Bay Area, USA
Last but certainly not least, no list of inspiring cities for young entrepreneurs would be complete without including the place where all the magic happens – Silicon Valley and the wider Bay Area. With more than 3 million residents, the region is teeming with life, activity and silly amounts of money.
Incredibly, Silicon Valley pulled in over $27 billion in venture capital funding during 2015 alone. The statistics show that if you’re serious about growing and scaling your business, Silicon Valley is the real mecca of venture capital investment. While the region is an unequivocal winner in nearly every statistical category, we shouldn’t underestimate the value of its networking and relationship-building assets as well.
As a young entrepreneur, it’s important to receive mentorship and guidance from those who have come before you. Silicon Valley truly offers an unparalleled access to wealth, information and people, which you simply cannot find anywhere else on the planet. While it may not be the easiest (or cheapest!) place to break into, the Bay Area’s beautiful location, industry-leading investment and global reputation makes this inclusion an absolute no-brainer.