America has a deserved reputation as the hub of the global technology industry and a haven for young businesses seeking venture capital. In many ways, it’s one of the best places in the world to start a high-tech business.
But, according to an influential piece in The Atlantic, it’s actually not the world’s best place to start a new company. In an eclectic mix of emerging and developed economies, public policy is friendlier to entrepreneurs, and the private business landscape is more dynamic overall. Even countries not typically thought of as startup hotspots, such as Italy, put the United States to shame.
So if you’re keen on starting a new high-tech business, you’d be well-served to look overseas. Draw up your business plan, gird yourself against these common mistakes new business owners make, and decide which of these entrepreneurial destinations you’d like to set up shop in:
It took decades for Vietnam to recover from the ravages of the Vietnam War and rebuild an economy damaged by hardline Communist rule, but this southeast Asian nation finally has its groove back. With a low cost of living and business-friendly policies that reward foreign investors willing to create jobs in-country, it’s hard to beat Vietnam. Oh, and the food isn’t half bad, either.
Brazil might be going through rough political times, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less entrepreneur-friendly than it used to be. According to Approved Index, more than 13% of Brazil’s adult population belongs to the entrepreneur class — nearly one in seven people. Lately, Brazil has been working overtime to attract foreign investors, offering expedited investor visas and permanent residence for business owners willing to pony up enough dough.
Thailand is another super-entrepreneurial country in the heart of Southeast Asia. As wages rises on the Chinese mainland, lots of low-cost, high-tech production is moving south, and Thailand is a key beneficiary. According to Approved Index, Thailand’s entrepreneur population is roughly equal to Brazil’s.
Chile is a middle-income country with a stable, democratic government that has thoroughly learned the lessons of a decades-long military dictatorship. Most people come here for the stunning mountain vistas and beautiful beaches, but big cities like Santiago and Valparaiso are among South America’s friendliest for young, active entrepreneurs. Plus, inland Chile’s dry desert climate is ideal for specialized high-tech manufacturers, including chipmakers.
Romania has one of Europe’s most Internet-literate, code-savvy populations, despite a relatively low median income and per-capita GDP. Even if they’re headquartered elsewhere, high-tech businesses frequently tap Romanian back-office service providers and independent tech consultants for low-cost development and support work. Why not relocate the whole shebang?
Reputation-wise, Colombia had a steep hill to climb. For decades, the country was known as a drug-infested cesspool — South America’s top cocaine exporter. A bloody civil war didn’t help matters, either. But that’s all behind Colombia now. The country is booming, with temperate Bogota and beautiful Medellin looking more and more like Miami everyday. With wages super-low and skilled locals hungry for decent-paying work, South America’s northernmost country is a terrific place to start a tech business.
Are you looking to start a business in an emerging economy? Which countries are tops on your list?