The following post is written by Nato Chakvetadze, Program Associate for 500Georgia.
Gavin: Here everything is so expensive. Look at the numbers. If we move to Georgia, we can save a fortune and get a further investment. It's the only way. Denpok: Well, I have heard good things about the food scene in the Dirty South. Hoover: Stankonia. Freaknik. Might be nice to be around more people of color. Gavin: What? Not Atlanta. Tbilisi. The country of Georgia, not the state. -Silicon Valley (Season 6, Episode 2)
Yes, you heard it right – this is an article about Georgia, the country, not the state.
500 Startups recently launched 500Georgia, the first international accelerator in the country, in partnership with two key drivers of the local startup ecosystem, Georgia’s Innovation & Technology Agency and Bank of Georgia.
Applications are now open and 500 is on the hunt for smart and passionate entrepreneurs from Georgia and neighboring countries. If your startup is technology-enabled, pre-Series A, and has the potential to address global markets, 500 wants to hear from you.
“500 Startups is one of the top accelerators in the world. It’s entry into Georgia is extremely important for several reasons: 1) 500 has a huge network of founders and mentors and bringing Georgian founders into the network will create opportunities for them; 2) 500’s program will bring in very experienced mentors, which will bring valuable knowledge and exposure to the participating startups; 3) In general, private/public partnership and foreign accelerator coming in will hopefully signal to local potential investors that it’s time to get more involved and invest into Georgian startups.” – Nikoloz Gogochuri, Founder of VRex Immersive Inc
So, why would a founder consider bringing their business to Georgia?
Access to Global Markets
Located between Europe and Asia, Georgia’s economy is highly integrated with international markets. Free trade regimes and cheap, trustworthy logistic costs make Georgia a great place to build a company with a regional focus. To date, Georgia has signed a free trade agreement with the European Union (EU), the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries, Turkey, China and Hong Kong.
As Gavin Belson hinted at in Silicon Valley, another major perk of the country is the lower cost of living and running your business. Startups are able to seamlessly connect with global markets while making the most of their capital in a more affordable region.
“Having the experience of building tech companies around scalable digital products in Georgia, the Middle East and Europe, I can easily say that working in Georgia has several very important advantages for early-stage startups. Great internet coverage, low living costs and affordable talent are just a few of the most prominent ones. Moreover, due to the significant positive impact of young tech companies on the innovation-based economy, the support from the government towards this kind of venture is ever-increasing.” – Giorgi Laliashvili, Co-Founder of Stack
Ease of Doing Business
To better utilize its strategic location, the country has built itself up as a regional business hub. An entrepreneur can register their company online in just one day, even while waiting in line at the famous Justice House cafe.
In 2020, Georgia ranked 7th among 190 countries in the Ease of Doing Business Index powered by the World Bank Group. The country is also featured on the list of 10 top improvers for three consecutive Doing Business cycles.
In addition to this, Georgia has a favorable tax system. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index 2018, Georgia ranks 8th in the world with Total Tax Rate (16.4%).
“Through the 500Georgia Acceleration Program we expect to attract entrepreneurial talent and new ideas with the focus on thinking big. While doing this we also expect to help Georgian and regional scalable companies develop into great organizations with global reach.” – David Chechelashvili, Program Liaison at Georgia’s Innovation and Technology Agency (GITA)
Climate and Culture
Tbilisi is also a vibrant and desirable place for startups and digital nomads due to its warm climate, visa-free entry, tech-talent and co-working spaces. Every year, new co-working spaces and business centers emerge drawing increasing interest from expats and entrepreneurs. The growing startup community resulted in the organization of an international tech conference last year by Startup Grind, which has a local chapter. This regional conference turned out to be the third biggest event by Startup Grind, after Silicon Valley and London, bringing together more than 30 speakers from over 20 countries.
“Georgia is one of the growing economies in the world, which means a tremendous opportunity. Startups are a vital ingredient for a healthy market economy and we look to them to help unlock Georgia’s maximum potential. We believe in the economic growth of our country but it is impossible without international exposure which brings Georgia closer to other cultures, values and beliefs. This creates opportunities for growth and development, and for a more collaborative global community.” – Andro Ratiani, Head of Innovations at Bank of Georgia
500Georgia is the first of its kind in the region and an incredible opportunity for global and regional founders to visit Georgia, learn from 500’s world-class mentors, and prepare their company to scale to the next level.
Applications for 500Georgia close on May 25th. Apply now!
“Lack of hands-on mentorship and access to support networks, as well as numerous gender biases, are among those barriers that prevent women entrepreneurs in Georgia to flourish. I was really excited to learn that 500 Startups puts significant emphasis on supporting female entrepreneurs and contributes to building a more gender-sensitive innovation ecosystem. Hopefully, this will be one of the legacies 500 Startups creates in Georgia as well.” – Nino Dvalidze, Founder of My Nanny Services
THIS POST IS WRITTEN BY NATO CHAKVETADZE AND ANY VIEWS OR OPINIONS REPRESENTED IN THE ABOVE POST ARE HER OWN. ALL CONTENT REPRESENTED ABOVE IS PROVIDED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. ALL THIRD PARTY LINKS HAVE NOT NECESSARILY BEEN INDEPENDENTLY VERIFIED BY 500 STARTUPS AND THE INCLUSION OF SUCH LINKS SHOULD NOT BE INTERPRETED AS AN ENDORSEMENT OF OR CONFIRMATION OF THE CONTENT WITHIN. 500 STARTUPS MAKES NO REPRESENTATIONS AS TO THE ACCURACY OR COMPLETENESS OF ANY INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THE ABOVE POST. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD ANY OF THE ABOVE CONTENT BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL, TAX OR INVESTMENT ADVICE FROM 500 STARTUPS OR ANY OF ITS AFFILIATES.
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD ANY INFORMATION OR CONTENT IN THIS POST, BE CONSIDERED AS AN OFFER TO SELL OR SOLICITATION OF INTEREST TO PURCHASE ANY SECURITIES ADVISED BY 500 STARTUPS OR ANY OF ITS AFFILIATES OR REPRESENTATIVES. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD ANYTHING HEREIN BE CONSTRUED AS FUND MARKETING MATERIALS BY PROSPECTIVE INVESTORS CONSIDERING AN INVESTMENT INTO ANY 500 STARTUPS INVESTMENT FUND.