If you’ve been reading the Rearview Mirror, my weekend blog that highlights certain Earnings, IPO’s and Private placements of the past week, you’ll have noticed the increasing international nature of venture capital and the tech-startup world. The United States, and specifically California has seemed to have the lock on startups. But it appears that technology startups are contagious, and virtually every state in the United States has several incubators, and most major countries in the world sponsor incubators of some sort.
There’s the Shanghai Technology ‘business Incubation Association along with the Shanghai Technology Innovation Center. Berlin has a five story incubator named “The Factory” that boasts of SoundCloud and 6Wunderkinder among their tenants. The Berlin Innovation and Business Incubation Centre (BIG) was founded in 1983.
Even France, which isn’t known for being particularly business-friendly, wants to get in on the action. Paris has launched 1000 Startups @ La Halle Freyssinett project. In 2016 the Halle Freyssinet, an old shipping and freight center in Paris’ 13th arrondissement will be completely transformed into a massive tech incubator with 30,000 m**2 of co-working and office space, accelerators, incubators, event facilities and other services focusing on the tech community.
Reading the Rearview Mirror, one can get incredibly pessimistic or incredibly optimistic. While Silicon Valley definitely is still the engine—by gosh even Jason Calcanis a Los Angeles proselytizer is moving up to the Bay Area [Though he claims he is keeping his house in Brentwood.]—there is increased startup activity around the country and around the globe. San Francisco is internet/software, New York City is media and advertising, Boston is systems and storage`0
The number one country where we see activity is China. How can one ignore a 1.3 billion people market? A significant number of Silicon Valley venture capital firms have “branches” in China. Advent International was probably the first venture capital firm to go international—specifically to Europe. Now, venture capital firms are heading East.
We are all used to the one’s-ies, two’s-ies: SAP in Germany and Infosys and Wipro in India, Corel (owner of Wordperfect) in Canada. Now these countries are creating their own ecosystems.
This Week in Startups (TWiST) has done an excellent job of highlighting the foreign based startup ecosphere. They have had entire shows Skyped between Los Angeles and some foreign city’s incubator. At these local meetups, the three best startup ideas are presented. Some these companies are compelling. The shows have gone from Australia and New Zealand, to Berlin, to London to Paris. And there are more than a few other cities/countries that have been featured. In addition the Ask Jason call-in feature regularly has foreign based entrepreneurs calling in via Skype.
If I was at the start of my career, I would head to Berlin or Shanghai in a heartbeat. Even at this stage of my life, it’s tempting. The excitement, the energy, and the vibe are powerful magnets.