The 2015 Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking is live!

Download the full report here.

Welcome to the Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking. It has been almost three years since the last Startup Ecosystem Report was released in November 2012, and since then the startup sector has grown at a booming pace.

The centerpiece of the 2015 Startup Ecosystem Ranking is our updated and revamped component index, which ranks the top 20 startup ecosystems around the world. The index is produced by ranking ecosystems along five major components: Performance, Funding, Talent, Market Reach, and Startup Experience.

I. The Increasing Socioeconomic Impact of Startup Ecosystems

Twenty years ago, almost all tech startups were created in startup ecosystems like Silicon Valley and Boston. Today, technology entrepreneurship is a global phenomenon, with startup ecosystems similar to Silicon Valley rapidly emerging all around the world. An interconnected, global startup landscape is taking shape and we’ve gathered the data and crunched the numbers that nobody else has to help you understand how to best navigate this brave new economic world.

In September 2011, we wrote a blog post about the coming “Entrepreneurial Enlightenment” and the factors behind its emergence. The era is in full bloom now and there has never been a better time to be a tech entrepreneur, as entrepreneurs are now blessed with the tools, resources, and market conditions to scale a company to billion dollar “Unicorn” status faster than ever before.

The rise of the startup ecosystems all around the world should also be seen in the context of the larger socioeconomic structural shift taking place. Information Era businesses have become the dominant source of economic growth, significantly automating or altering much of the industrial and service businesses of the previous economic era. Many others have described aspects of this structural shift under different names, such as Marc Andreessen’s widely circulated Wall Street Journal essay, “Why Software is Eating the World”, Deloitte Center for the Edge’s semi- annual “Shift Index”, or Richard Florida’s Creative Class Group, which has published numerous books on the topic, such as the “Rise of the Creative Class.”

Given technology startups’ critical role in the information economy, the importance of healthy startup ecosystems only stands to increase in the future. With this report we want to accelerate the development of startup ecosystems around the world by answering critical questions for entrepreneurs, investors, and policy makers that are difficult to answer without the data we have gathered and analyzed in this report, as well as to raise the general populace’s awareness of the increasing socioeconomic importance of startup ecosystems.

One of our main goals with this report is to help various stakeholders answer the following kinds of questions:

a) For Entrepreneurs:

“Where should I start my new company?”

“When I’m ready, where should I open up my startup’s second office?”

b) For Investors:

“How can I find new startup investment opportunities around the world instead of simply settling for solely investing in my local startup ecosystem due to familiarity?”

“Given the lack of information out there about emerging startup ecosystems, how do I evaluate which ones I should focus on for finding new opportunities?”

c) For Policy Makers:

“What initiatives should I prioritize in my startup ecosystem to maximize growth?”

“How should I measure the progress of these initiatives?”

d) For All Stakeholders:

“What is the best way to strengthen the overall vibrancy and entrepreneurial spirit in my ecosystem?”

II. The Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking 2015

Without further ado, here is the ranking, with analysis to follow.

One important caveat to note: Our index does not currently include startup ecosystems from China, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea. It has been challenging to get survey participants and complete data. We hope to have these ecosystems included in our index later this year. While we have not completed our analysis yet, we particularly expect:
  • Beijing to rank in the top 5
  • Shanghai to rank in the top 15

The following ecosystems all scored highly and were contenders for a spot among the top 20: 

  • Atlanta, Delhi, Denver-Boulder, Dublin, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Stockholm, and Waterloo. 

III. Five Key Findings

1. Ecosystems have become more interconnected and startup teams have become more international:

a) Global average for investments in a startup from outside of its home ecosystem

- 37% of all funding rounds in the top 20 ecosystems have at least one investor from another ecosystem. In North America this is 41%.

- 27% of all funding rounds have at least one investor from abroad. (North America 20%, Europe 38%, Asia-Pacific 29%)

b) Globally distributed startup teams

In the top 20 ecosystems, the number of offices that are 2nd offices from startups outside the ecosystem or headquarters of startups that were founded elsewhere and moved to the ecosystem, rose by 8.4x from 2012 to 2014.

c) International Teams:

The number of foreign employees within a startup is 29% on average for the top 20 ecosystems (Silicon Valley 45%)

2. Exit Values:

Total exit growth across the top 20 ecosystems rose 81% annually from 2013 to 2014 (40% IPOs/60% Acquisitions).

Looking at the relative growth rates of exit value (based on a 2013-2014 2-year moving average), we see Silicon Valley growing at a 47% rate over the last two years, whereas many other ecosystems further down the index are growing at a much faster pace.

London has quadrupled in the same timeframe, and Berlin has grown by a factor of 20 (due primarily to the two big IPOs of Rocket Internet and Zalando).

Full Exit Growth Table: (2013-2014 2-year moving average)









Sao Paulo










Tel Aviv


Los Angeles


Silicon Valley


New York City










Montreal 1x

Europe vs. U.S.

Exit value grew much faster in the top European ecosystems than the top ecosystems in the U.S.: 4.1x Europe versus 1.5x U.S. (2012-2014), yet in 2014 the volume of exits was still on average 82% higher in American startup ecosystems than in European ecosystems.


Over the coming years we expect Silicon Valley to stay in the lead, even while other ecosystems temporarily grow at a faster pace, with the expectation of ultimate convergence towards an equilibrium that looks a fairly conventional 80/20 power law; i.e. Silicon Valley capturing 30-50% of the total exit pie, the next three startup ecosystems capturing an additional 30-50% of the pie and the following top 16 startup ecosystems capturing the remaining 20% of the total exit pie.

3. VC Investment Trends in Startup Ecosystems:

Total venture capital investment across the top 20 ecosystems rose 95% from 2013 to 2014.

a) VC Growth:

The ecosystems with the most growth in VC investments were Bangalore (4x), Boston (3.7x), Amsterdam (2x), and Seattle (2x). Meanwhile, Silicon Valley almost doubled up with 93% growth from 2013 to 2014, with indications from Crunchbase that almost all of the increase in Silicon Valley funding was in late stage Series B and Series C+ capital rather than early stage capital, which was relatively stagnant.

b) Seed Stage Capital Growth:

The startup ecosystems with the fastest annual growth in the number of seed rounds over the last two years were Bangalore (53%), Sydney 33%), and Austin (30%).

4. Ecosystem Ranking Changes since 2012 : Winners and Losers

The startup ecosystems which made the biggest leaps are New York, Austin, Bangalore, Singapore, Berlin and Chicago. New York City made a significant leap among the established players, moving from position #5 to #2 to take the silver medal. Austin, Texas, meanwhile leapt all the way into #14th place, whereas three years ago they didn’t even crack the top 20. Bangalore moved from #19 to #15, Singapore from #17 to #10, Berlin from #15 to #9, and Chicago from #10 to #7. 

The startup ecosystems which made the biggest falls are Vancouver, Toronto, Sydney, and Seattle. Vancouver slipped out of the top 10 from position #9 to #18, Toronto slid from #8 down to #17, Sydney dropped from #12 to #16, and Seattle fell from #4 to #8. Again, all of these ecosystems did grow in the past three years, but not as fast as other environments, which puts them at risk of eventually being left behind.

Three ecosystems fell out of the top 20 completely since 2012: Santiago, Melbourne, and Waterloo. Santiago experienced fast “catch up” growth for several years but is now just a bit above average with a growth index of 2.6 (average = 2.4). The growth of Melbourne likely took a hit due to its close proximity to the larger startup ecosystem of Sydney. Smaller ecosystems with close proximity to larger ecosystems often have a hard time continuing to grow due to new and existing talent and capital migrating to the larger nearby ecosystem. 

Regarding Waterloo, our methodological change of removing Startup Output per capita as a performance metric is the main reason for its lower ranking. It has a Growth index of 2.45, which, while only slightly above average, is significantly higher than most of the lower ranked ecosystems in the top 20.

5. Gender Equality amongst Startup Founders

The lack of gender equality is common across all startup ecosystems. No ecosystem comes close to an equal share of male and female founders, although psychologists and sociologists continue to debate whether 50/50 is the target to strive for [see this article on gender differences by Florida State Psychology professor Roy Baumeister][1]. Overall, the trend for female entrepreneurs is significantly up—the number of female founders in the global startup ecosystem has grown by 80% over the last three years. In 2012, 10% of startups had a female founder, as compared to the 18% global average among the top 20 in 2015. Chicago, with 30% female founders, has the greatest percentage of women entrepreneurs out of the top 20 startup ecosystems. 

IV. How it differs from the 2012 study and why

Having access to a larger volume of data combined with the development of a mathematical model with a high degree of fit drove a few changes in this year’s ranking methodology. The most significant change was the removal of the metric “Startup Density” (number of startups per capita, a measure of density) from the Performance Index. This changes the scoring formula away from density to overall value and size of the ecosystem.

In interviews with many stakeholders (investors, entrepreneurs and others) we concluded that there is an interest for larger ecosystems supported by the availability of more resources. The question was how to compare the performance of different ecosystems. Is an ecosystem with $10 billion in value and 1,000 startups in a city with a metropolitan population of 5 million (Startup Density of 0.2 startup per thousand people) better than one with $15 billion in value and 1,500 startups in a city of 10 million people (0.15 startup per thousand people)? Our intuition, validated by interviews, modeling and correlation between different factors, showed that both higher absolute value and higher number of startups are better, so we scored them separately.  Startup Density was neither correlated with other performance variables nor drove the decisions of entrepreneurs and investors. Therefore we chose to focus the Performance Index on the value and size of the ecosystem. We are conducting more research to allow for more nuanced relationship in future versions.

This change is one reason why Tel Aviv—despite its continuous and well above-average growth rate—and the Waterloo Region in Canada—with its very small population (slightly above half a million)—are ranked lower in our 2015 ranking than in our 2012 one.

Download the full report here:

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Breaking: The 2015 Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking 2015. New Report with Unexpected Results and Insights. #ser15

[1] Baumeister, R. (2007)

About Compass  ( formerly Startup Genome)

We came together for one reason: To radically improve the success rate of businesses.

With 34,000 signups, Compass is the leading solution for automated management reports and benchmarks for small and medium-sized online businesses.

Compass is made for executives who seek visibility on how to improve their ROI without having to rely on analysts or consultants. Compass automatically prepares best- practice reports and benchmarks for your weekly and monthly business meetings.

You get your first interactive report in less than 2 minutes after signing up. Simply connect the tools you use to manage your business and Compass will create your tailored report.

Why we built Compass:

In our research as part of the Startup Genome Project on the success and failure of young firms, we found that most businesses fail not because of competition, but rather due to self destruction. Or in other words, they fail because they execute on the wrong things.

In our search for scalable solutions to this problem we learned that peer benchmarks and industry data were one of the most effective ways to help businesses focus on executing what matters most.

The newest Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking 2015 was a collaborative effort involving:

  • Insights from over 200 interviews with entrepreneurs and local experts from 25 countries

  • Data from 11,000 surveys completed by startups, investors and other stakeholders in the last five months

  • Partnerships with: CrunchBase, Global Entrepreneurship Network, Dealroom, Orb Intelligence, Deloitte Australia and 60 local partners (including incubators, accelerators, VCs, policy makers, and universities)

The Startup Revolution Series Part 4: The Critical Role of the Startup Ecosystem

— by Max Marmer and Cheyenne Richards

In our previous posts (The Great Transition: Industrial to Information Revolution, The Decline of the Blue Chip and The Rise of the Startup), we’ve argued that we’re in the middle of an epochal societal transition from the Industrial Age to the Information Age, that blue chip companies are becoming less and less able to be the primary drivers of the global economy and that the startups rising in their place are the only creators of net new jobs.

So if our entire global economic future rests on our ability to support the growth of startups, how do we help them thrive? With a flourishing local ecosystem.

Wait... what? Aren’t internet businesses inherently global? Haven't tools like Skype and Basecamp made location meaningless? If successful traditional businesses get started every day around the world, why do startups need the special support of an ecosystem?

If you’re an experienced entrepreneur, the challenges described below may seem all too familiar and we invite you to provide your own thoughts in the comments section. For the rest of the world, still trying to understand the complex and unique drivers that either support or suppress startup growth, we hope this provides some additional perspective on the importance of the ecosystem.

High growth technology startups are very different from other businesses.

Read more »

How Much Should You Pay Your Engineers? (Infographic)

by Cheyenne Richards

With the world’s ever-expanding appetite for great engineering talent, hiring is becoming a larger and larger challenge for tech companies. Never has it been more critical to know just how much you should pay that promising candidate. 

If you're a startup -- How do your salaries compete with more traditional IT firms? Where in the world is the cheapest place to source talent? And if you're bootstrapping development, which are the least expensive programming languages to work with? 

If you're an IT firm -- Are freelance or in-house resources more cost effective? What is a benchmark career path for an engineer? 

Whatever your situation, the following insights from the Research October 2014 survey of engineers around the globe, may prove helpful. In addition to data from our own members, for this report we reached across the web for comparison data from oDeskElanceToptalGlassdoorAngelList and Payscale. In the process, we owe a special shout-out to the folks at Elance-oDesk and Toptal, who helped us access and interpret their data. 

The Startup Revolution Series — Part 3: The Rise of the Startup

By Max Marmer, Compass Co-Founder Emeritus and Cheyenne Richards, Compass Writer and Marketer

This is the third installment in the Startup Revolution Series. In the first post, we suggested humanity may be approaching—or have already passed—the tipping point between the Industrial and Information Eras. In the second, we provided data that demonstrates fairly conclusively that Industrial Era-focused blue chip companies have lost significant value over the past 50 years, as defined by return on assets.

So what is rising in their place? This post will focus on the Information Era businesses that are best adapted to this new Darwinian business environment: Startups.

Read more »

CrunchBase and Compass (formerly Startup Genome) Partner to Rank Global Startup Ecosystems in 2015

The survey for the 2015 Startup Ecosystem Report kicks off today — in a partnership by CrunchBase and Compass. Participate here.

San Francisco, CA, 4 February 2015—CrunchBase, the world’s most comprehensive dataset of startup activity, and Compass, creator of the most extensive benchmark data for startup performance, announce the kickoff of a collaborative project that is as critical to the global economy as it is ambitious. Since the groundbreaking results of the Kauffman Study, which demonstrated that “Startups that develop organically are almost solely the drivers of job growth,” there has been an increasing demand for information about how to create thriving local ecosystems.

Beginning today, startups around the globe may access the Startup Ecosystem 2015 Survey to provide their data to help measure the health and growth of their ecosystem relative to as many as 40 others. They will also be able to benchmark their individual results with their relevant peers, providing a highly useful perspective that enhances decision-making.

Read more »

The Startup Revolution Series — Part 2: The Decline of the Blue Chip

by Max Marmer, Compass Co-Founder Emeritus

This is the second post in the Startup Revolution series. The first may be found here.

In the last post, we suggested humanity may be approaching—or have already passed—the tipping point between the Industrial and Information Eras. Now we will delve deeper into why the old wisdom no longer seems to apply and blue chip companies are far from the reliable investments they used to be.

Let’s start with the good news.

Read more »

The Startup Revolution Series -- Part 1: The Great Transition: Industrial to Information Revolution

-- By Bjoern Lasse Herrmann and Max Marmer

For the past decade or more, Max and I have either heard or experienced endless stories of startup failures. We took as a given that more than 90% of startups go bust instead of bang, but we were also inspired by the amazing success stories — from Salesforce to Google to Kickstarter — that built new industries, created tens of thousands of jobs and transformed society.

And so we asked ourselves one day in the backyard of a house in Atherton: What if that failure rate could be reduced by even a small percent? How much could society benefit if 1% fewer startups failed? 2%? We became bolder. If the code could be cracked on what factors led to more favorable outcomes, could we actually help maximize success rates??

The following series of posts is a detailed look at why, at this unique moment in human history, we firmly believe that nurturing startups is critical to the well-being of our world.

So we reached out to entrepreneurs across the globe, and over the past several years have been overwhelmed by the tens of thousands of people who have shared their data in service to the entire startup community. The findings from our communal efforts have been published in reports, articles and blogs, have been incorporated into the curriculums of hundreds of universities and have been referenced by the Obama Administration, Chancellor Merkel and leaders in dozens of countries.

Then we built benchmarking dashboards to help individual companies, partners and ecosystems make more informed choices, given their unique circumstances and peer groups. We continue to refine Compass Benchmark, Compass Monitor and Compass Ecosystem, and have many releases in process.

Does this mean we’ve achieved our mission? Hardly. For all we’ve achieved as a community, there are always more questions to be asked, more data to be analyzed, more algorithms to be refined. So we continue to chip away at the code of startup success, with a special focus on delivering an updated version of The Startup Ecosystem Report in spring of 2015.

In the meantime, here is a look at the series of posts that will lead up to its release.

As we begin the new year, we wish you the greatest possible success with all your ventures.

— Bjoern Lasse Herrmann, CEO of Compass

The Startup Revolution Series Overview

Part 1: The Great Transition: Industrial to Information Revolution

Part 2: The Decline of the Blue Chip

Part 3: The Rise of the Startup

Part 4: The Critical Role of the Startup Ecosystem

Part 5: Startup Ecosystem Report 2015 (coming soon)

Read more »

How to drive dynamic decision-making and action: From fixed to relative performance contracts (Part 1)

by Niels Pflaeging, Founder, BetaCodex Network

Participate in Compass’ Q2-Q3 2014 financial benchmarking study and inform your financial planning and resource allocation decisions.

Join the free Proformative webinarUsing Real-Time Financial Benchmarks to Drive Dynamic Planning, and Real-time Decision-Making” on 11/25/2014 at 11 am PST. 

For decades, organizations of all sizes and from all kinds of industries have curated and perfected management practices such as fixed target setting, target negotiation, planning, budgeting, forecasting, plan-actual variance reporting, incentives-setting, and individual performance appraisal. Now, things are changing: Those practices, usually combined under brands such as Management by Objectives, Merit Pay, or Pay-for-Performance have recently come under fire. If markets and work are becoming ever more dynamic, how can static, annual rituals remain effective and appropriate to improve or even control performance?

Read more »

Compass Raises Fresh Funding and Launches Compass Monitor!

We have two exciting news to share!

1. We raised more than 2 Million in a second round of funding from first institutional Investors including NEA, Profounders and Crosslink and strategic investors including Tom Glocer (ex-CEO of Thomson Reuters), Banca Intesa and Oliver Rothschild joining existing Compass investors, including Steve Blank, Allen Morgan, Roger Krakoff, Rhodium, Erik Jansen and Amir Banifatemi (see full list here: to fund our mission of minimizing business failure by providing automated, crowdsourced benchmarks and industry insights. This totals our investment to date to ~3 Million US Dollars.

See press coverage here:

2. We just launched Compass Monitor that allows companies to securely share selected data with investors, advisors or consultants. Compass Monitor pulls data directly from various data repositories (Google Analytics, Stripe, Quickbooks, etc.) to automate the continuous delivery of selected data. It saves hours of collecting sharing and reviewing data every week for the investor and entrepreneur.

One of our first beta tester Marcin Szelag from Innovation Nest said: "Compass Monitor solves a major problem for investors. On top of that it is easy to use and looks good."

Read more »