The World Startup Report, the information-gathering initiative spearheaded by Bowei Gai, kicked off at the beginning of the year. The plan: to travel to 36 world cities in nine months, evaluating the local entrepreneurial ecosystem of each.
Starting in India and coming to an end in Singapore this September, the initiative connects with local entrepreneurs, investors and thought leaders in order to later generate a country-by-country report. Once the reports are finished, a book will be published, providing a complete global view of entrepreneurial activity.
Gai isn’t acting along in his endeavor. He’s also received support from individuals like Dave McClure and programs such as Startup Weekend, 500 Startups, AngelHack and LinkedIn, among others.
The World Startup Report has hit 16 countries so far, Latin America included. Here’s what, according to Gai, they’ve encountered:
Argentina: The story of Argentina can be told through their currency, which devalued 25% in the last three months. These folks are under constant pressure to produce in the midst of impossible constraints – trial by fire style. It could be argued that these conditions have produced the best entrepreneurs in Latin America.
Brazil: Size does matter. Virtually all successful Latin companies make the move to Brazil after their initial growing period, despite the unfavorable laws and social instability.
Peru: Though one of the least developed countries in South America, it’s also the place with the highest growth. Serious potential here.
Colombia: When a country invests 40% of the national budget on education, it changes things and empowers people.
Chile: Start-Up Chile might go down in the history books as one of the best things to ever happen to Chile in this decade.
A Look Outside Latin America
Gai also sized up the other locales visited:
India: An explosive market with innovation that could rival Silicon Valley. You can read the full report here.
Nepal: A hidden gem. Even in a country where there are rations of only 12 to 16 hours of electricity per day, you can build tech firms with US$100 million exits.
Australia: Being a small yet modern and accessible country can be a double edged sword. On one hand, you get access to the latest and greatest from the West, but on the other hand, this very same lack of entrance barriers eliminates many startup opportunities for locals hoping to break onto the scene. Expect stiff competition here.
Kenya: The future of mobile payment can be seen in Kenya today. M-pesa is a micro-financing and money transfer service all easily accessible from your mobile device. It accounts for 25% of the country’s GDP.
Ethiopia: There are two 1s you have to know about Ethiopia: 1% internet penetration rate. One million new cellphone subscribers a month.
Philippines: The Peru of Southeast Asia, but three times bigger with its 100 million population plus everyone speaks perfect English. Keep an eye out for it.
Thailand: Unbelievable infrastructure and ample access to talents through its tourism. This 70 million population country is poised to do well.
Myanmar: For a country that’s only a year old, its infrastructure is surprisingly developed. Those who want to jump in for low hanging fruit might already be too late.
Israel: Roughly 70% of the startup founders at our meetup believe they can build a billion dollar company. With this much ambition, drive and optimism in the room, some of them could be right.
The World Startup Report still has 13 more countries to visit, including the Netherlands, France, the U.K., Germany, Ukraine and Russia in Europe as well as Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore in Asia.