Founders picked the presence of a strong personal network and a supportive local tech community as two of the top three most important personal considerations for choosing where to start.
Europe is unique in its model of multiple technology hubs across the continent, which has meant that no single place has the depth and breadth of a Silicon Valley. But we are now seeing unprecedented levels of entrepreneurial activity across the region, not just in the traditional hubs of London, Paris and Stockholm. This year alone, we've invested for the first time in Prague, Milan and Aarhus. When these markets are taken together, they show a true diversity in sector and approach - from fintech to healthtech and enterprise automation. The fragmentation also means that talent is dispersed and companies need to be mindful of location as they scale.
Local ecosystems are still too isolated from each other. Whenever you visit a European capital, you can always spot interesting things on the ground: entrepreneurs with higher ambitions; angel investors with an improving track record; venture capital firms with more capital to deploy; and more technical talent willing to join the startup world. However, every single city in Europe ignores all the others —with the one notable exception of London. And I think that's the biggest challenge we need to tackle. We need to build up stronger relationships between these local ecosystems so as to form a pan-European network and improve liquidity on the markets for both talent and capital. Also, we're still waiting for the European tech world to inspire its own culture, one that would make it possible for people from different countries and backgrounds to work together. Distributed teams are all the rage now, including in Silicon Valley. But you can't work as a distributed team if that team is not cemented by a common culture. We need that pan-European tech culture if we want people from various European countries to work together and build successful tech companies.
Central and Eastern Europe have come to the limelight in the last 12 months. Not only because of the record level of capital invested in Romania and the rise of UiPath to a $1B+ company but also because of their leadership in areas such as diversity and technical talent pool. So the growth of tech communities across CEE countries is great news for Europe as a whole.
In Belarus, a drastic difference between the average compensation in IT and in general in the country drives a lot of people to acquire an education and a job in IT. A number of successful acquisitions of Belarusian startups (maps.me acquired by Mail.Ru, MSQRD by Facebook, AIMATTER by Google, etc.) started a boom in the Belarusian startup ecosystem. It was further accelerated when the The Decree on Development of Digital Economy passed in December 2017 and greatly improved the tax and legal regime of the High Tech Park. It is now relatively easy for a startup to apply for the HTP regulation and make use of tax benefits and simpler legal regulation.