The best cities for budding entrepreneurs

Where do the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world convene to talk business and churn out the next great idea? From San Francisco, Berlin, London and more, Zack Young, a well-known entrepreneur and digital nomad, gives his take on the hottest go-tos across the globe and what makes them so magnetic.

Silicon Valley, California

Google Headquarters Silicon Valley

The west coast of the United States is home to some of the biggest startups in the world. Silicon Valley in particular boasts companies such as Facebook, Pinterest, Google (pictured above) and Apple – just to name a few. Which is why Silicon Valley is the poster child for the startup world and is without a doubt the world leader of innovation. This gives the whole area a feeling of invincibility, which attracts entrepreneurs and digital nomads from all over the world.

There’s a real buzz around the city – a feeling like the residents and visitors are changing the world. Why? it’s the unique combination of bold, confident people, a well-established startup ecosystem, a lot of money available to get businesses off the ground and most importantly of all… a willingness to help each other and feed off of everyone’s knowledge.

If you’re looking to catch a glimpse of a famous entrepreneur or get a shot at pitching your idea to the people with cash, I highly recommend grabbing a coffee at Fraiche, Coupa Café or Peninsula Creamery in downtown Palo Alto.

A word of warning, though: Silicon Valley has become extremely expensive, so make sure you book your stay in advance and have plenty of spending money for the local restaurants and bars.

Berlin, Germany

Views across Berlin including the Reichstag dome

Located in central Europe, Berlin is instantly a hit for entrepreneurs because of its global-friendly timezone. It also helps that English is a second language to pretty much all the residents there. That, combined with the low cost of living, make it the perfect European city in which to develop a startup.

Berlin’s startup community thrives on creativity, making it very, very popular with freelancers and digital nomads. You’ll also never get bored here, as there are massive business conferences all the time and a whole host of local meet-ups where you can chill out and drink a stein whilst networking with like-minded people.

Alongside a thriving community of startups taking advantage of the low cost of accommodation, there is also a growing number of co-working hubs. German and overseas investors are funding sizeable rounds to fuel brave ideas and scale the startups based here. There’s a very positive feeling and vibe that the next big European business will be born out of one of these hubs in Berlin.

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Wat Buppharam Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is a rising star, quickly becoming the mecca for freelancers and digital nomads across the world. This location is most popular with entrepreneurs who are boot-strapping their startups (building their business without any external funding), and for lifestyle entrepreneurs looking to set up online, location-independent businesses.

The digital nomad community is perhaps the largest here, with the cost of living hovering between $600 to $800 (£487 to £650) per month. There is a growing number of people who have left their nine-to-five jobs to follow their dreams here. Along with the low cost of living, the community is perhaps Chiang Mai’s strongest asset.

The warm climate doesn’t hurt either, creating an environment conducive to mingling with like-minded entrepreneurs in the tropical city. Pull up a chair at the vibrant co-working space, Punspace, conveniently near the hip Nimman area where you could find yourself rubbing elbows with the next startup champion in any of the uber cool coffee shops close by too.

London, United Kingdom

Canary Wharf Station London England

Although there is a large, significant startup scene in London, it has suffered from a lack of capital, which is used to fuel adventurous entrepreneurs and their ideas… until recently. Over the last few years several financial startups have launched and seen success (like TransferWise), leading London to become the FinTech (financial technology) capital of the world.

With this impressive moniker, it’s no wonder London has embraced these innovative ideas and accelerated them. Disruptive banking startups are challenging the space, and are ultimately winning over the millennial market through transparency, putting London on the map as the place to start up a game-changing financial business. A quick look on any business network like LinkedIn or Angel List will show just how much this industry is exploding across the UK’s capital.

Just like Berlin, you’re also never short on events if you’re looking to network with enterprising people or even find a developer to work on your new project. FinTech fans should scope out Canary Wharf (pictured above), or even wander down to the Shoreditch area – the buzz is palpable.

New York City, USA

Streetview with Williamsburg Bridge

Despite the cost of living in New York sometimes posing a challenge for small business owners, there is no shortage of gutsy entrepreneurs here taking on the world. New York is perhaps best known for its fashion and hardware startup community which, as you can imagine, makes for a unique area.

With such a large number of product creators, the city has developed a brand called ‘Made in NYC‘ to showcase the products created in the city. Suffice to say, this is an ideal city to startup if you want to create something.

Like California, New York is also home to a number of fantastic academic institutions like NYU and Cornell University. These educational powerhouses provide a constant flow of new, enterprising, bold individuals to lead new business ventures, as well as talented engineers to lead the technical side.

Combining talent, people and creativity, New York City is one to watch and definitely somewhere to put on your list to explore as a budding entrepreneur. Be sure to scout out Brooklyn (pictured above). Home base to Etsy, the area is growing in popularity, and there’s no shortage of trendy shops and food stops either.

If you’re ready to bring the next great business idea to life, book your trip now to one of these thriving entrepreneur-friendly cities.

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