When most think of travelling, most think about picturesque and exotic locations that indulge in their wanderlust (with lots of Instagram-able moments).
Not for startup founders though.
For most startup founders, taking a break while you’re building a company from scratch seems like an unthinkable thing to do. It’s not uncommon to see founders hustling for a good 2 to 3 years before they even think about taking that well-deserved holiday.
But what if we told you that you can do both? To find inspiration on how to grow and advance your startup, and at the same time, take some days off to see the world.
The Startup Capitals Of The World
Singapore is definitely a good place to get a startup off the ground.
We have a good support network for small businesses, with plenty of grants and government support thrown in for good measure.
And with all these big multi-national companies setting up base here with incubators and accelerators, startups could potentially get a backing from the likes of tech giants like Microsoft and Paypal.
Even then, it’s still a good idea for founders to travel the world and meet other like-minded people like themselves to learn how they thrive in their economies, because after all, Singapore is still a tiny red dot.
So let’s take a look at where you should take the next flight out to.
The U.S. of A.
The land of the free, and of president-elect Donald Trump, this is a country where most of the world’s most famous startups come from. Being the combination of 50 states, there are only a few which stand out for being the place to be for startups.
So to make your flight across the pacific worthwhile, here are the places which you can mark out for your road trip across the US.
Why You Should Visit: Silicon Valley is the poster child of all things tech and innovation in the world. This is the place where you will find the headquarters of Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and many other household names.
Being in such a close proximity to not just the best minds from these big names, but also to some of the biggest venture capitalists and incubators in the world makes this a dream location for any startup founder.
From Silicon Valley, we make our way across California to the city of Los Angeles.
Why You Should Visit: The land of Hollywood isn’t all just glitz and glamour with famous actors and movie producers. Startups are a thing here too, which explains why companies like Snapchat and Tinder were able to make it to the limelight, while others like Dollar Shave Club now find themselves under Unilever.
We go across the US now to a place dubbed “Silicon Alley” for startups and tech. It’s none other than New York City, the concrete jungle where dreams are made of.
Why You Should Visit: It’s all about the media and information here. Think media companies like Buzzfeed, Vox Media (The Verge, Re/code, Eater) and Mic.com. This is a city where information moves at the speed of light, and because of it, have given birth to companies who deliver news at an equally fast pace.
Other startups cities you can visit in the USA:
Atlanta, Austin, Boston, and Chicago
London, United Kingdom
Why You Should Visit: London has been constantly voted as the best place in Europe for startups, and boasts the third largest number of ‘unicorn’ companies after Silicon Valley and China.
They aren’t just aiming to be the Silicon Valley of Europe either – they want to be the next Silicon Valley, period. With companies like food delivery service Deliveroo and music identifying app Shazam, London is home to a variety of startups from all industries.
It still remains to be seen how Brexit will come into play once the referendum is enforced. Talk of the vibrant startup community here packing off to other cities is rife, but for now, London is still one of the top places for startups.
Why You Should Visit: In the past year, Berlin leapfrogged Paris to become the second best place for startups in Europe, and now is the place that rivals London.
Companies like food delivery service Foodpanda, popular lip-syncing app Dubsmash, and audio-hosting platform Soundcloud are all headquartered right in Berlin, and represent a new wave of local tech companies who are moving away from industries that the Germans were traditionally known for.
Why You Should Visit: A bustling startup community with a predominantly English-speaking culture means that outside London, Amsterdam is the place to go if you want to set up base in central Europe without having to spend time learning the native language.
The most well-known, and successful Dutch startups to have ever come out of the city comes in the form of travel site Booking.com and consumer GPS navigation accessories company Tomtom.
Dutch startups are more data-driven, supporting not only other tech companies, but also traditional businesses and consumers. Bet you didn’t know this, the site which you use to send large files all the time, WeTransfer, is actually from Amsterdam.
Other startups cities you can visit in Europe:
Tel Aviv (Israel), Paris (France), Lisbon (Portugal), Sofia (Bulgaria), Reykjavik (Iceland), Stockholm (Sweden), and Copenhagen (Denmark)
São Paulo, Brazil
Why You Should Visit: The Brazilian city of São Paulo is one that is rapidly expanding in the startup-sphere with more than 2,700 active startups and counting. With a niche in IT and software services, they have been increasingly courted by US investors, as businesses head south to enter the South American market.
São Paulo also boasts Latin America’s most diverse startup ecosystem, with everything from early stage startups to established ones, while Brazilian investors are one of the most optimistic around, despite political unrest and a challenging economy to deal with.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Why You Should Visit: Buenos Aires is always known to have one of the most collaborative entrepreneurial communities in South America with a highly sustainable ecosystem supported by Startup Buenos Aires, the city’s most influential startup organisation.
Along with the presence of big companies, such as eBay’s Latin America branch, low cost of living and a highly educated workforce has made Buenos Aires one of the most competitive and cost-effective startup environments outside of the US, and even India!
Other startups cities you can visit in Latin America:
Monterrey (Mexico), Medellín (Colombia), Santiago (Chile)
Johannesburg, South Africa
Why You Should Visit: Joburg, as Johannesburg is affectionately known as, has seen startup activities grow tremendously. With an aim to become Africa’s brightest center of innovation, the city has attracted plenty of interest from major tech companies like IBM, which opened their US$61-million IBM Research Laboratory earlier this year.
Along with a cultural rejuvenation of old office spaces into student work areas and co-working spaces came the concept of Tshimologong – meaning “new beginnings”. With the government getting involved with big companies already having a presence in the city such as Microsoft and Cisco, the transformation of the South African ICT sector alongside the creation of a new digital hub for Johannesburg is something to look forward to.
Why You Should Visit: The “Silicon Savannah” of Africa as it is now known has an agile mobile banking system that startup founders can find many opportunities to expand their businesses through.
Costly middlemen in traditional industries such as agriculture can be removed through the products and services of startups, some of which do not even require internet, and rely on text messages.
Thanks to the country investing in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), the African country is now reaping the benefits of local college graduates coming into the system, many of whom are founders of startups creating employment for the job market.
Other startups cities you can visit in Africa:
Lagos (Nigeria), Accra (Ghana), Kampala (Uganda), and Cairo (Egypt)
Why You Should Visit: In almost any part of the world, there’s always somewhere described as the “Silicon Valley” of that region.
For India, that place is Bangalore. As somewhere that’s always considered as the center for tech and innovation in India, it is no wonder that there are nearly 5,000 active startups with almost US$2.3 billion in venture capital investments there, and is in the process of positioning itself to be one of the top startup hubs in the Asia Pacific Region.
The huge internet penetration in India is also a reason why e-commerce has grown furiously in recent years, seeing an influx of the biggest international retailers entering the country.
Hong Kong, China
Why You Should Visit: Hong Kong has always been one of the world’s most important financial hubs, accounting for some 0.5% of the world’s economy. Financial wealth aside, startups that have found a home here have largely benefited from the fact that Hong Kong is just a stone’s throw away from China, where these startups have the potential to reach out to the world most populous country.
So it is no surprise that even for Chinese-owned startups, they would tend to have their headquarters in the heart of Hong Kong, while their manufacturing capabilities are often located in “China’s Silicon Valley” of Shenzhen.
Why You Should Visit: Sydney now takes the crown of the startup capital of Australia from Melbourne. Home to an ever-increasing number of startups and incubators, businesses there have enjoyed plenty of support from the existing infrastructure. From financial services to transport and logistics, to telecommunications and IT, the fine art of keeping a company operational is made that much easier.
Doesn’t hurt that the coffee is awesome too.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Why You Should Visit: If you are a startup based in Singapore and want to spend some time away to see what everyone else is doing, Kuala Lumpur is the nearest and cheapest travel destination. New startups seem to pop-up here everyday! While they have enjoyed various degrees of success, it cannot be argued that entrepreneurship is well-supported here, with government initiatives in place, as well as the support of organisations like MaGIC.
It’s also not uncommon for startups from both Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to cross borders and expand to each others’ cities. So a visit here could mean an immediate and viable business opportunity that you will be able to sign off on.
Start Planning – It’ll Be Worth It
We know that it’s far too late into the year to plan some big overseas startup excursion, but a trip down to Kuala Lumpur, Bangalore, or Hong Kong is something worth considering.
The further locations are still definitely at least worth a visit due to our cultural differences. And let’s not forget the pilgrimage that founders need to make to Silicon Valley at least once in their lives.
Get going, and start planning. There are enough locations here for your travels in the coming years.
Featured Image Credit: weheartit