Why you should care
Because these enterprising countries are taking tech to new heights. Which is why we should watch them.
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Paris is known for many things, including fine art, fashion and food … but tech startups? Mais oui! Artistic, tech-savvy entrepreneurs, ready to subvert conventional business models and make big money, are using Parisian panache to bump up the P in entrepreneur. So far, Paris is showing real promise. It’s already home to major successes like Dailymotion, Deezer and online advertisement firm Criteo. Following in their footsteps are other smaller but fast-growing companies that people may not realize are “made in France” despite the fact they all share a distinct and artistic French style. And increasingly style matters to the success of startups. D esign might just be as important as coding. Read the story here.
The startup bug is hitting Seoul. Korea’s risk-averse culture tends to discourage entrepreneurs by looking down on failure. In an interview with Forbeslast year, Bom Kim, founder of Korean e-commerce site Coupang, summed up his country’s mindset this way: “You only start a company in Korea if you can’t find a decent job.” South Korean President Park Geun-hye wants to change that. She’s established a government ministry to support the creation of technologies and recently announced a government plan to invest $3.7 billion in early-stage companies. Those who matter most — entrepreneurs and private investors — applaud her efforts. Read the story here.
Tech’s next big hitters are coming straight from the Promised Land — and they could change the global tech market, from wallets to culture. Move aside, MIT, Stanford and Y Combinator — even IIT and Tsinghua. Turns out the best entrepreneurial incubator in the world might actually be created via conscription … the Israeli Defense Forces. Along with a thriving export and manufacturing business, Israel now sees a budding startup and consumer-facing product industry. One guess is the chutzpah explanation: Maybe there’s just something about the Israeli people and their scrappy survivors’ anything-is-possible mentality that makes the startup boom in their backyard anything but surprising. Plus, the military is a powerful networking tool. Especially when it’s mandatory. Read the story here.
Yes, Afghanistan has a fast-growing information technology industry. It already contributes 10 percent of the treasury’s annual revenue through taxes and fees, and has created 140,000 jobs. These are rough figures. But the industry’s growth amounts to an important experiment: Can government investment in the latest information technology jump-start a larger process of development? Too early to say, but already there’s a new generation of technologically aware Afghans and a crop of entrepreneurs. Technology might just be the ticket out of poverty for this conflict-ridden country. Read the story here.