March 26, 2014
America isn’t the only country that has startup ecosystems popping up in different cities; it’s a global trend that we’re seeing internationally as well. And thanks to the efforts of the DC-based co-working space 1776, the Challenge Cup Tour highlighted some of the hottest international cities to start a company in.
Sao Paolo, Brazil hosted the Challenge Cup Tour stop at SuperNova Labs, and the crowd watched different startups compete across the four categories of health, energy, education, and smart cities. While the winners have already been announced, we wanted to dig a bit deeper into why Sao Paolo was chosen in Latin America over neighboring countries and cities.
“Sao Paulo is the place to be if you are a Brazilian startup, but Brazil can be a difficult country for international startups,” says Daniel Branco of the winning company, Medicinia. “It’s expensive and bureaucratic, which creates a low-competition environment and lots of opportunities.”
Regardless, startups from other countries have established a strong footing while operating out of Sao Paolo.
“I’m based in Chile right now because the Atacama Desert is here with lots of sunlight, and therefore a vastly growing market for solar power,” says Ridha Azaiz of Solarbrush. “But there is also lots of sand and dust that lowers the output for solar power; that’s why we test the robot in Sao Paolo.”
While Branco’s claim is merited that Sao Paolo has a vastly different landscape than that of San Francisco or Las Vegas, out-of-country companies like Solarbrush have seen success in the city. After all, Solarbrush took home the gold in the Challenge Cup’s energy startup category.
“Local startups are usually competing against adversity rather than against other startups,” says Branco. “This can be good or bad, depending on the startup and its sector. Our company, for instance, does not have local competitors. But we also don’t have regulatory incentives that similar startups find in the US.”
So there seems to be a definite push and pull to the startup ecosystem in Sao Paolo, and while some might consider it to be difficult, others find it liberating. At the end of the day, the city itself alleviates any discomfort and challenges that entrepreneurs face; it’s an incredibly beautiful city and everybody can unwind in their own, unique way.
“Sao Paolo is very diverse and it has beautiful amenities I like to enjoy after work, like the Parque do Ibirapuera and Paulista Avenue,” says Azaiz.
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