What Mistakes Are Killing Your Startup? #2 Bad Location

Starting a company in Abdijan (a yearly destination of mine) is a far cry from doing so in Barcelona (my home city) or San Francisco. It sounds obvious…and it is!

I’ve identified four major reasons for this:


Talent is unevenly distributed geographically. There are clusters of entrepreneurship and innovation that are more attractive than others. Educational institutions and average salaries are strong incentives to attract talent.

Funding Availability

How strong is the entrepreneurial financing ecosystem in your area? One thing difficult to achieve is matching the sources of financing available in the marketplace with the needs of startups. You need a consecutive chain of “financing agents” that can assume the different risks related to the growth phases of new ventures.

Let’s take Spain, for example.: It is not that difficult to start a new company in Barcelona or Madrid.  As an entrepreneur you will find startup money thanks to FFF, subventions and Business Angel’s network (that will probably cover the initial risks of product development and early sales). However, when it comes to securing growth financing, you will face extreme difficulties. On one hand, there are very few VC’s dedicated to early growth, and on the other, not that many BA’s able to assume those kinds of amount of money / risk ratios. The growth financing equity gap is a massive obstacle for comprehensive entrepreneurial ecosystem building.

Even at a country level, this is striking:


How big and how dense is the ecosystem? Quite simply put, you need a crowded market place to generate competition between entrepreneurs and financing vehicles. This generates the right level of innovation. If you want investors to assume a certain level of risk with innovative and disruptive projects (and not just focus on copy-cats), you need a minimum number of competing investors willing to invest in startups.


The harder it is to register a company (see www.thegedi.org), the less innovative and entrepreneurial your ecosystem will be. According to the World Bank report, there are three key factors to take into account:

  • How much does it cost (percentage of the average salary)?
  • How many administrative steps does it take?
  • And how much time does it take?

If you can register a company for one monetary unit in two clicks in five minutes you are in a better position than let’s say a country where you will have to invest six months of your average salary, hire a lawyer, meet the notary and sign 10 different papers (the real case in certain countries!).

In Spain, around 95.5 percent of tech is found in Madrid or Barcelona and the remainder dispersed around the rest of the country.

And throughout Europe, we find the same pattern (see TechCrunch).

Nevertheless, this shouldn’t deter you from starting a company from a remote location. Although you may have to move part of the functions to a more populated area, especially for business development and funding. Either that or spend your life in planes, trains, automobiles and the likes.

Posts of the series:

#1 Single Founder

#2 Bad Location

#3 Marginal Niche

#4 Confusing an Accessible Market with a Potential One

#5 and #6: Launching too Early… or too Late

#7: Fights Between Founders

#8: Obstinacy


About Mathieu Carenzo

Mathieu worked in different positions in Europe and America mostly in corporate entrepreneur positions. After an experience in Danone to start his career, he worked in the helicopter branch of EADS: Eurocopter. He led the growth of the company in Mexico, Caribbean, and Central America building his expertise in the settlement of new structures and development of new markets. He is a Business Angel investing in early stage high growth potential new ventures (holding 2 board seats) and leads the growth of the Global Entrepreneurship Week in Spain.

2 thoughts on “What Mistakes Are Killing Your Startup? #2 Bad Location

  1. I just don’t know why there is so much conversation about startups. If you have a good idea, get out there and do it. There is no formula to success in startups, it takes dedication, skill, and a good amount of being in the right place at the right time in order to be successful in this area.

  2. Today you may stay in Barcelona but register your business in Panama, BVI or Micronesia and vice versa. It depends on the goals, profits (and legal issues) and importance of trust for your customers. As for me I prefer companies registered in the USA or Europe than in other countries. Using VPN services, geolocation changers gives you geographical independence that’s why this factor is not so critical to kill your startup.

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