Imagine a city where there’s about one startup for every 430 people. Where there are so many tiny tech companies that more than 50 hubs have cropped up to support them. Where, when they get big enough to need their own space, they find it downtown—steps away from the city’s financial and cultural center.
Welcome to Tel Aviv. With only 420,000 residents in 20 square miles along the Mediterranean coast, it’s nonetheless ranked fifth among the world’s leading digital startup ecosystems, behind Silicon Valley, New York City, Los Angeles, and Boston. And it’s ranked first outside the United States, ahead of London. It has a reputation for launching winners like streaming entertainment startup Boxee, acquired by Samsung in 2013 for US$30 million; and DIY web publishing platform Wix, which has 85 million users in 190 countries and a market capitalization of more than $1 billion.
“Entrepreneurship is in the city’s DNA,” says Mira Marcus, international press director for Tel Aviv’s municipality. “It’s been our basic culture ever since the founders of modern Tel Aviv laid the first cornerstone on the sand dunes outside of ancient Jaffa in 1909. Launching a startup in your apartment is just what people do here.”