10 innovation ecosystems to start your internationalization – First part
Startup’s universe is very dynamic and involves many countries around the world, but we still have most of the entrepreneurs dreaming of starting their international operations through the Silicon Valley. However, this is not the best option in 99% of the cases!
You are probably asking yourself: “Ok, so where should I go instead?”
This is not an easy question to answer once we have a lot of different variables that can influence your decision, such as:
- What is your international experience? Which countries have you already visited?
- What languages do you speak? What is your fluency level?
- What is your financial situation?
- What are the connections that you have to do to start your operations in other countries?
- Where are your clients, or even better, where is it easier to gather new ones?
We listed in this post 10 innovation ecosystems that can offer great opportunities to startups and, because of the “Silicon Valley Dream”, normally are not on the entrepreneur’s radar.
We suggest that the entrepreneur should have an experience of at least 2 months in these countries to start operations efficiently. This is time enough to interact with the new ecosystem and connect with the principal people, such as investors, other entrepreneurs, and new clients.
Chile – Santiago
Santiago is probably the most known ecosystem in this list. The city has an excellent quality of life and provides the necessary infrastructure to build your startup, especially because of Startup Chile’s program.
One of the most appealing points is that it is easier to gather new clients and expand your operations to other countries in Latin America starting through Chile. The negative point of this city is the high cost of life. Obviously, it is not as expansive as the United States, but it still is more expensive than other countries in the region. It is also important to understand that startup’s culture still is something new in Chile, so it is not so common to see successful companies and huge investors over there.
Bogota – Colombia
With a population of over 9 million people, Colombia’s capital is the third biggest city in South America and one of the regions that most offers taxes benefits to startups in the continent.
Companies that are established at the “Free Trade Zones” have different incentives and facilities as part of a government program that started in 2012. This program’s goal is to make business conditions more attractive in the country, including taxes benefits and even help (or even guarantee) of investment.
Even though it is a new ecosystem, Colombia has been showing a lot of potentials. Many known cases have been born there, such as Viva Real, Voice Bunny and .CO, company, bought by Neustar for US$ 109 in 2014.
Panama City – Panama
However Panama City is one of the less known cities in this list, the region is one of the best opportunities around the world to start international operations. With a GDP growth rate of 6.2%/year, the city is already called as “American Dubai.”
The most appealing benefit of Panama City is the tax system. Unlike in the United States and European countries, where you have to pay tax on income generated abroad, Panama only taxes what you earn within its borders. Your offshore earnings, foreign investments, and foreign salaries are essentially tax-free.
uGlobally team has already visited Ciudad del Saber, an innovation center that attracts projects from all over the world, and also Panama Pacifico, one of the most important international business hubs in the country. We got impressed not only with the incredible infrastructure of the country but also with the companies over there.
The startup universe is still in development in Panama, but the low cost of life, infrastructure, great location (only 6h by plane from the main capitals of Americas), facilities to start operations and taxes benefits turns the country in an extremely attractive ecosystem to any entrepreneur that is looking to start international operations.
Mexico City – Mexico
The American capital is one of the biggest cities and financial centers in the world and can bring great opportunities to new companies, but it has been ignored by entrepreneurs around the world. The city is the headquarter of many prominent businesses that have Spanish as the first language, the second most spoken language in the world, only after Chinese.
Mexico City has a lot of influence from North America and offers countless opportunities to startups, such as connections, acceleration programs or even the facility of interaction with local companies.
It should be the primary option to Latin American’s entrepreneurs that are looking to start international operations but have difficulty speaking English.
Lisbon – Portugal
uGlobally team have been in Portugal two times, in 2013 and 2015, and got impressed in both experiences. BBC have already appointed Lisbon as Europe’s best work-and-play capital, especially because of Startup Lisboa’s results. The program, founded in 2011, has already helped to create over 250 new businesses, in which about 30% of new entrepreneurs are foreigners.
Lisbon has an active ecosystem with many accelerators, incubators, Fablabs and countless other options to support the creative industry. Besides that, low cost of life is also an appealing benefit that the region offers to new entrepreneurs when compared to other countries in Europe.