Where should I set up my startup ? In Silicon Valley or in London ?

If you’re an entrepreneur, would you rather base your business in the US or the UK ? Here are a few things to consider.

US is a larger market with 300M people and offers easier scale up. UK offers 60M people plus an opportunity to expand into Europe.

Silicon valley has proven pedigreee when it comes to building large technology businesses. Europe has a few successes eg Skype, Spotify, last.fm, and Rovio. UK has even fewer successes to boast of.

What makes up pedigree? Easy access to capital? Anecdotally, its seems there is much more early stage funding available in the US. Appetitie for risk may be higher in the US than in more conservative Europe.

What about access to technology talent? Anecdotally, its hard to acquire and retain developer talent in the Valley. Anecdotally, same is true in London. Good developers in London cost lots thanks to competition from the financial sector.

So US seemingly wins thanks to a larger market size, proven pedigree, and better provisions for early stage capital.

However, many entrepreneurs are foreign-born. Can they simply buy a flight ticket to the Valley and setup shop? Nope. The US visa situation is tricky. One needs a H1B visa to work for another company and there are few around. The situation in the UK is more friendly for foreign-born entrepreneurs. All they need is committed capital for their idea.

Read about how UK government has made it easier for entreprenuers
Read about a British entrepreneur’s attempt to move his company to US:
Read about how the Valley is a better place for startups than UK