Silicon Valley is today not necessarily the best place to start a business. It is really hard to recruit and retain good engineers because you are competing with companies such as Google or Facebook. A lot of globally successful start-ups are today born in Europe.
London and Berlin are the European cities attracting tech people because they are cool places to be. Stockholm and Tallinn are other cities popular among tech companies. Are there more European places with good conditions for tech companies? Slovakia, the small country in the middle of Europe, might have been overlooked by investors in the tech industry in the past – but we might be surprised what startups were and are being born there.
Slovakia: A primer
Slovakia is part of European Union and the euro zone, it enjoys fair corporate taxes and not-too-crazy bureaucracy. Talented people concentrate in Bratislava, the Slovak capital city. The workforce is significantly cheaper compared to London, Berlin or Silicon Valley. The average salary in Bratislava is €1000 per month according to platy.sk. Senior programmers earn an average of about €1800 per month, compared to over $8,000 per month per month in Silicon Valley.
The knowledge and expertise amongst the Slovak IT workforce is very high, with Slovaks employed by companies such as Google and Facebook. Bratislava also hosts a couple of technical universities. Still, when it comes to living conditions, the relatively small Bratislava lags behind London or Berlin, although proximity to Vienna helps a bit.
Slovakia has a great advantage compared to bigger countries such as Poland or Germany. Slovak tech entrepreneurs have found the country’s population of just 5 million is not simply big enough to feed them. If you start in one market, and the domestic market is large, there is a danger you can get stuck there. A lot of Polish companies, for example, end up depending on their home market. The advantage of Slovakia is that it is so small that you have to think internationally from the start.
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An interesting article if only becuase it fails to point out the major factors detering companies either setting up in or moving to Slovakia – ease of travel? BA provides air connections to where?, the rail and road links to the rest of Europe are slow to say the least. Highly skilled workforce? there may be a few but any bright young hopefuls will have moved to where the jobs and the money are and would continue to do so rather than stay in BA. Setting up business here is far too complicated, access to start up funds is blocked by contrived barriers, the new labour code does not allow flexibility with staffing, taxes and insurances are to high. Cheap wages? many companies do follow the principle that if you pay peanuts you get monkies plus senior management and technical staff are not going to move here and accept SVK level salaries.
Is there potential for ITC in Slovakia? without a doubt, just try doing any basic dealings with the State authorities and wear out a pair of boots walking from one state office to another for endless pieces of paper. The simple fact is IT companies are not going to be attracted by or to Slovakia, its easier to move the people with the skills and expertise to the centres where the major players are already established.
I agree DC…Slowvakia has a real shortage of good IT staff and those that are any good command an eyewatering 40-50 K .
Slovaks are elite in programming. I tried to employ austrians in vienna and also slovaks in bratislava. those austrians were lazy and not so skilled comparing to slovaks. Slovaks has strong analytical and algortimical thinking. But austrians had better clothes and better parfume every day 🙂 average salary in Bratislava 2000 eur
Hahahahahahahah what a load of old tosh .
You`re know as a Banker in the UK Toby …
What a load of rubbish….. where are the clever people here?? more sheep here than in New Zealand…..
Silicone valley in Slovakia 🙂 might be true if they employ external workers!!
Cheap labor!! then your on the right tracks!!!! from the Czech work!! ‘Robots’ rings a bell here…
What numbscull writes these daft articles ???
Have they ever employed staff here , run a business !!!?!!!
Slovakia is great place if you want a cheap, desperate, shovel labour force, wearing overalls and using spanners and/or screwdrivers ie V W , Kia , US Steel even Samsung .
From bitter experience, and that of two other business friends , that did read the PR guide to opening a small software firm in Bratislava, only to be stunned by the lack of effort ( Mr I work from 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday man ), crazy official bureaucracy ….( ever tried to get your DPH repaid here ?? ) …All including me, moved out to employ work hard Austrian and Germans !
The education system does not turn out quality students as they claim, most of them are lazy, bone idle who just cannot get the job done and always sniveling off work with a cold, or some other sickness, normally on a Friday so they can go skiing . The ones that are any good, earn 2500 to 3000 euro with some mega bank, or start their own consultants or Web designers .
“not-too-crazy bureaucracy”? what? Bratislava is corrupt, red necked, dirty………….you best look for a place with some degree quality of life, not only bottom line earnings.