Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Best Places in the World to Live and Do Business Are Often the Smallest Countries

By Simon Black

Edmundas B. was in Tel Aviv when he got the idea for a startup to better connect web designers and developers with their clients.

Grabbing his mobile phone and laptop, he quickly set up an LLC, for his startup TrackDuck, back in his home country of Lithuania.

He’d previously tested setting up businesses in Tel Aviv and Tallinn, both of which are quite prominent tech startup locations in the world, but in the end he decided to move TrackDuck back to Vilnius.


Because Lithuania is a small country with big aspirations, and with the right attitude to make them happen.

Being quite small and unknown, Lithuania has had to work hard to build up an attractive reputation.

The best places in the world to live and do business are often some of the smallest, for precisely this reason. Not only are the governments generally more in touch with their populations, but they’ve got to try much harder to appeal to outsiders.

When countries are actively competing for you and your business, you are always the winner.

They want your business and so they’re willing to make things easier for you to start it there. That is why in Lithuania it takes up to 100 euros and less than a week to start a business.

Even after starting up, they want to keep you, which is why the country is home to one of the lowest tax regimes and slimmest bureaucracies in the European Union.

Here you can have the benefit of direct access to the coveted European market, whilst minimizing your costs as a business.

Even as an individual, relocating to Vilnius is great for your budget. For those who like Europe, but not the prices, Vilnius is in the Top 5 least expensive EU capitals for living costs. So you are able to get European standards of living at a fraction of the cost. And you’re a short and cheap flight away from the rest of the continent.

Eager to take advantage of all this, a number of tech and online startups have sprung to relocate their operations to Vilnius. A significant number of Russian startups are amongst this list, but businesses are coming in from all over. This includes prominent online web-development platform, based in Tel Aviv, which recently moved its app development department to Vilnius.

As a part of the European Union, talent as well as capital can and does easily flow in from any part of the region.

Locals are highly skilled, with not only university degrees as the norm, but English and usually Russian language proficiency as well. It’s generally common for students to spend their summers working abroad, and in the UK in particular, making for easy communication and capable people.

Investors are taking notice of Lithuania as well, with Accel Partners and Insight Venture Partners recently putting $27 million into a local Lithuanian startup Vinted.

In general, Vilnius is simply an artsy-cool place to be. In just this past summer alone there were over 60 festivals in the lush forests that cover the whole country, attracting people from all over to join in the Lithuanian vibe.

This vibe certainly crosses over into the startup scene, with frequent startup events in the capital. Whether it be for entrepreneurship, art, or music, you will always find something new and interesting to be a part of in Vilnius.

Simon Black writes and is Senor Editor at Follow him on FacebookYoutube and Twitter.

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