What does it take to create a successful startup ecosystem? Furthermore, what does it take to create a the dynamic and innovative culture, community and possibilities of a startup city?
Tel Aviv: Startup Utopia
Many have written (and will write) about the Startup Nation’s success in general and the success of its high-tech capital Tel Aviv specifically.
Why all the hype?
Well, besides the fact that Tel Aviv is the second-most entrepreneurial hotspot after Silicon Valley, it also has the highest density of startups in the world — and the number is constantly growing. Even President Obama once said that “if people want to see the future of the world economy, they should look at Tel Aviv.”
But how does Tel Aviv, as a city, maintain its status as a hotbed of startup culture and money? And can other cities around the globe replicate its thriving startup environment?
Tel Aviv’s Secret Sauce
In an article in Inc. Magazine, contributor Jeremy Shure lists several forward-thinking and innovative initiatives taken by the city that have contributed in the cultivation of its vibrant startup ecosystem.
The local government is exceptionally proactive in making the city a promising place for entrepreneurs.
- Free Internet hookup: The first example Shure points to is the free WiFi in all public areas. Last month the Tel Aviv municipality installed free online access in 80 different locations citywide. The city WiFi enables the city’s visitors and residents to enjoy free surfing throughout the city at anytime.
- Open to foreign techies: The second example is the local government’s attempts to begin opening up Israel’s borders to a global tech workforce by issuing Startup Visas. The primary goal of changing the legislation is to encourage foreign entrepreneurs to join the local ecosystem by easing up residency restrictions and allow them to establish temporary citizenship. What is more, an influx in foreign entrepreneurs will hopefully open doors for foreign investment to come in too.
- Strong multinational presence on the ground: Lastly, Shure discusses the evident interest of global giants, such as Microsoft and Google, in the city’s activity and their recognition in the importance of establishing a strong presence in it. Google opened its Tel Aviv offices back in 2006 and earlier this year launched Campus TLV, an innovation hub for Israeli startups. Microsoft opened its first startup accelerator in Tel Aviv 18 months ago with two graduate classes and a third batch of young businesses underway. And, now Facebook (with its purchase of Onavo this week) is getting its beachhead in Israel.