Paris vs San Francisco

for a startup-er

I just moved to San Francisco one month ago - first of all for my entrepreneurship major, but also to enjoy the startup scene that the Valley can offer. It’s common to hear that if you want to launch a digital startup, moving to SF is definitely the best decision you can make, why? I don’t know yet.

So I’ll try to find out! When you’re launching a startup what are the main factors that can influence you to move here or there?

The cost perhaps? I found an info-graphic from that compares the costs of getting an office and hiring two web developers and one designer in various cities around the world. But let’s focus on Paris and SF.

For Paris
For SF

One point for Paris.

Paris 1-0 San Francisco

But you also have to take into account the cost of living, when you are launching a startup you don’t want to put all your money into your rent or basic needs.

Let’s compare the cost of living Index rate of Paris and SF(updated on 01/30/2014)

Cost of living index rate: Paris vs SF

If we take a look at the consumer price plus rent index, Paris is ahead of San Francisco. The data of groceries Index and Restaurant Price index are not really relevant (no time for restaurants when you’re launching a startup).

But the rent index is the most important criteria here. You can reduce your everyday costs, but you can’t reduce the rent average prices.

NB: The rent index is an estimation of prices of renting apartments in the city compared to New York City. If Rent index is 80, it estimates that the price for renting in that city is 80% of the price in New York.

Two points for Paris.

Paris 2-0 San Francisco

NB: In my opinion there is also one thing that you have to take into account when you are searching for the perfect location to launch a startup: where is your personal network? Launching a startup is very stressful, you’ll need to have the support of your friends and/or your family.

Let’s have a look to the Ecosystem now. Ok, it will be difficult to show that Paris is better than Silicon Valley. Yes, you’ll find more peers and mentors in Silicon Valley & everyday you have tons of meet-ups and talks about tech and startups. But you know what? We can play the game of the media and misinforming people. By comparing the calendar of Paris and the Valley on Startupdigest I found more events in Paris than in the bay. (But to be honest, I know that it’s because the curators of the bay are way more meticulous in their choice of events.) One point to San Francisco — but watch out San Franciscans we have more startupdigest events than you ☺!

Startupdigest calendar Paris vs SF for January 2014.

One point for San Francisco.

Paris 2-1 San Francisco

Ok, you had a great startup idea, you found a great team, the launch was successful and now you’re looking for VC and business angels to fund your startup.

One point for San Francisco.

Paris 2-2 San Francisco

Why so quickly? Because of the recent story of Mindie, the video-sharing app that didn’t succeed to raise funds in Paris (even with the help of such a big network: the best french startup accelerator Thefamily). The Mindie team had to move to SF to raise funds. I’m really sad about this example, because things are starting to change in Paris, and the country does a lot for entrepreneurs, but we are still far from Silicon Valley when it comes to the question of raising funds.

For as Oussama Ammar, founder of TheFamily, notes “The major problem in Paris is that most investors are still very conservative; they would rather put their money in less risky assets.”

The young makers: more and more young members of generation Y have the desire of creation. But to launch a successful business you have to share and work with talented people. But why would those talented people come to San Francisco?

For young graduates of Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA there is no need to go far - they can stay here, and work in Silicon Valley. That is where the money is, where you have free meals, shuttle buses and stock options…

But the thing is that many French engineers are recruited here, and a lot of startups in the Valley have at least one Frenchy engineer… We have very good engineering schools in France, but a lot of graduate students are leaving to work abroad because the proposals are more attractive.

cf: Is San Francisco New York? Ex–Wall Street bros, hacker hostels, self-loathing techies: dispatches from a city, newly flushed with wealth, but doesn’t quite know what to do with itself.

There is a ton of other criteria that I could take into account, but I just wanted to summarize the ones that are most important to me.

Things are changing - ten years ago Paris was far behind Silicon Valley in terms of creativity and innovation. In ten years Paris will be far ahead :-)


PS1: Have a look at this article by @romaindillet for Techcrunch:

Welcome To The French Tech Ecosystem.

PS2: Or this one from @usatoday:

Paris is for Lovers… of Startups.