Thinking of going abroad - start looking at yourself

Barcelona

I meet many start ups that rely on advice that they get from more or less everybody they meet - friends, business developers, investors and others. Nothing wrong with that but first, think about what it is you are doing and chose your first destination from that. I will give you some examples:

Bootstrapping but also in need of developers?

The perfect choice would probably be one of the old eastern Europe cities - like for instance Sofia in Bulgaria or somewhere in the Balkans. But it is probably not as fun as you want to have it, so I had gone to Berlin instead. Berlin is still cheap when it comes to living and the German system with mini jobs is frequently used by start ups in the German capital. Even though there is a lack of developers, nearby cities in Poland still provides skilled talent when it comes to programming and development. And prices are reasonable even though it is more expensive than it was 10 years ago.

The financial sector is my customer

The next place to go is probably London. If you have established your company in Sweden, take the flight to the UK capital since it is also the financial epicentre of Europe. But you need to be prepared for high cost of living, expensive office space and expensive staff. On the other hand you have daily access to the biggest VC and business angel cluster in Europe. And they are used to high costs, which will probably increase the value of your company. Best way to start is of course to use the free co-working spaces at Google Campus in Shoreditch.

I’m into m-health

If you have a ready application in this really hot area, you want to go somewhere where the health sector is used to implement new technology. So, if you are patient and skilled in French, my suggestion is to go to France. In France they introduced Telemedicine many years ago, already in the 80:s. The French healthcare system is used to buying new technology and not as conservative as for instance the Swedish. But be aware that starting i company is much more complicated in France compared to for instance UK and that french is compulsory if you want to do business. In order to keep costs down you could also consider starting somewhere else than in Paris, for instance in Lyon, Sophia Antipolis (Nice) or Bordeaux.

For those not keen on learning french, the UK is probably a good alternative. Look at for instance Sheffield who offer low cost of living, reasonable access to talent and a very active business incubator connected to the university. Other attractive cities could be Nottingham, Manchester or Leeds.

Looking for money

If you are into funding it really depends on what phase you are in. For seed money Sweden is often enough at least if you can live with investors that maybe not will come with a lot of knowledge to your company (at least if you are looking for angel investors). But if you need more money - lets say 1 million sek or more - Sweden is normally to small. There are some options in Europe, Berlin and London as the most obvious - but there are also outsiders like Hamburg, Barcelona or Dublin where the flow of capital has increased during past years.

Technology

For those of you that develops hardware and are relying on fast prototyping, Europe is unfortunately not the best alternative. Either you have to go to the US or to China, depending on what your needs are and of course what you are willing to pay. In the pearl river delta in China you will find fast prototyping facilities that can make your prototype really fast (faster than Europe) and in the US (especially in Silicon Valley) you get high quality prototyping within for instance IOT technology faster and cheaper than in Europe.

Conclusions

So, going abroad is not just finding the best place for start ups. Its all about finding the best place for your start up. And that is a totally different thing.