The barriers to entry in the US are numerous and much more burdensome than they should be in a free society....and are still a flat out cakewalk compared to what the man with an idea faces in other countries.
Incorporate in a low-tax low-regulation business-friendly jurisdiction like Singapore, bank in stable country like Switzerland and live/work wherever you like.
Consider the 5 flags-theory for web-based business: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perpetual_traveler
Edit: Ridiculous how people downvote. I've researched this area more than most and the flags theory just doesn't fit most startups as the core concept is having your tax residence and company in different countries. The only case I know of where it did or could have worked is Skype.
And I encourage anyone dreaming about working abroad to go and try it for at least a month before making a big commitment.
That is nice and all, and yes, you are right, those are great resources for entrepreneurs along with a handful of other sites.
Speaking as an entrepreneur that has sat on both sides of the fence - I partially live in Buenos Aires, and spend a lot of time in Boston: have done the /self served/ mentoring you hint at and had actual mentors and I'm going through my second incubator experience right now - I ought to say, the differences between a support or mentorship network is a completely different experience than when you have actual mentors, with names, faces and specific personalities.
Hacker News, Quora, StackExchange are top notch resources when you have very specific questions that need answers. Its a completely different ball game when questions you face are ambiguous, and needless to say that the effect of being able to easily tap into willing and reliable networks of contacts through your mentors is a resource that is hard to replicate in these sites. A "Show HN" thread is great (provided it reaches the front page), but being able to get in front of insightful, connected people that have a particular understanding of the exact problem you are solving, is a much more meaningful resource, I'll listen to the insights from five such individuals much more carefully than to the comments of 200 anonymous comments (not that the 200 anonymous comments are not of use, of course, but one is heavily more valuable than the other imo).
YMMV, but, all things being equal, having a handful of people you can reach out to (and just as important, that will reach out to you periodically) makes your own work much more effective.
As long as you plan on being a perfectly law abiding citizen (or resident), Singapore is a great place. But once you have a crime on you record--including something as simple as jaywalking--it stops being such a great place.
At the moment, I'm based between the UK and Jersey (Channel Islands – I'm resident for tax, which is nice), around Europe (recently Amsterdam, Berlin, Lisbon, back to NL in a few weeks) and planning a move onto South America later in the year. Previously it was Hong Kong, where the project began life.
From these, I got the best vibes in Berlin, and would love to spend more time there soon.
London, where most of my business took shape and which I'd consider my practical home, is fantastic for diversity of ideas, people and places. As of now I plan to spend 3 months per year here (maximum allowed unless I want to pay UK tax!) in the warmer months to really get into the city.
Still looking for the place, though, the one where I settle in for a year or two.
Curious, what's your technical stack? I'm researching ways to build a Restful api to be consumed by web apps and mobile apps.
Quite nice to be a resident of Channel Islands! Seems that everyone likes Berlin. Maybe checkout New Zealand?
OXR is built out with PHP and (for a bunch of processes) nodeJS. PHP gets a bad rap, but it's fastest for me to work with and hasn't presented any problems so far.
I'm always impressed by the quality of the NZ govt. websites: http://www.newzealandnow.govt.nz/investing-in-nz/who-to-talk...
http://www.newzealandnow.govt.nz/living-in-nz < I've packed my bags ; )
- Many good links here. It's not the valley, but impressive for a country of 4 mil.
Number of startups have arised recently, and also considering their entrepreneurship spirit. It does seem to be a great place for doing a startup.
Beats Russland hands down, true, but that's an easy feat.
Also, <insert bane darkness quote here>
What are the pros besides low cost of living? Can you elaborate?
I will do this someday.
Close to most of Asia, strong economy.
Norway is just generally all around awesome. The only draw back is their high taxes but they're ridiculously easy to file as well. They also protect their investors, lenders and borrowers very well.
Denmark's economy makes it so starting up a business costs pretty much nothing and registering it is almost as fast as Singapore. They also hire and fire laws similar to those in the US so that you can pretty much hire and fire people very easily with no hassle.
Also, I just love the Nordic culture and way of life which is a big factor for me in picking Norway and Denmark.
Kenya: good internet speeds,
Ghana: booming local economy,
Nigeria: lots of entrepreneurial spirit,
Angola: 4G network
Well-developed legal system
4G network and high speed internet
Existing support structures, especially for funding
And one of the most beautiful cities with plenty of sun & sand in Cape Town.
With that said, I would live in Cape Town in a heartbeat, great food, culture, people etc.
First off, one thing you notice, once you get out of the USA, is how much of a bubble the USA is in. The perspective given by US news sources, for instance, is pretty narrow. Americans tend to think about the same things all the time and have those perceptions reinforced. Just getting out there will broaden your perspective, of the world, of the markets and of your customers.
There are other cultures that support entrepreneurship, and really, the idea that the US is sort of a pinnacle of this is at the least outdated.
The thing to remember, though, is that these other cultures are different and support it in different ways. Some better, some worse than the USA.
During our travels, we've "based our startup" in Venice Italy, Berlin Germany, Amsterdam, The UK, Mexico, and most recently Chile.
All of these are quite viable as a place to stay while working on your startup, though not all of them are good jurisdictions for your business to be domiciled. We travel on tourist visas, though in recent year's we've focused on getting year long visas.
Like others said about the PT / Five Flags strategy, jurisdictional arbitrage is a good idea. One thing to be aware of is that the IRS is getting more and more draconian every year and US government laws are making it harder and harder for financial institutions to do business with americans. It's not that the countries won't welcome you, it's that the US punishes them for it. (At least as it comes to bank accounts.) This makes a foreign bank account a bit of a prized possession for Americans.
Some notable places to consider:
Amsterdam- There is a US-Dutch friendship treaty which means that Americans who found a company in the netherlands get residency so long as they keep a certain amount of assets in the company.
Panama- Recently the president of panama signed an executive order giving anyone from "favored" nations (eg: ones panama has good relations with, including the US and UK) the ability to get residency simply by setting up a company in Panama and putting some money in the bank. This isn't just a residency visa, this is permanent panamanian residency.
Chile- I'm sure you've heard of Startup Chile. Chile is a pro-business culture (though also a bit pro-paperwork and things take a bit more time than they should). The Chilean government will give you residency for living and working in Chile, you just have to earn money in the country and pay taxes on it (So you could go there as a freelancer and live.) After 2 years of doing this you can apply for permanent residency that allows you to live there indefinitely.
Singapore- Has two programs, the Entrepreneur Pass and the Entre Pass for employees of companies (it could be your own company) and people setting up singaporean companies, giving you residency.
All these situations give you a reasonably straightforward path to residency. All of them have more or less pro-business environments, though Amsterdam's taxes are kind of extreme.
As for embracing failure, etc, this is really kind of incumbent on yourself. IF you embrace your failure, great.
If you're looking to raise investor money, the bay area is the probably unparalleled for this. I'm speaking more towards someone who wants to bootstrap.
If you're a bootstrapper, you could do it almost anywhere.
I know that some countries (particularly some of the post-Soviet ones) make it a criminal offense to have a foreign bank account, but I thought that for the US it's just a question of sending in an extra IRS form. Or is it not?
No, just jurisdiction over it's citizens. The USA is one of the only countries that taxes and requires its oversees citizens to file a tax return. You can go to jail for not reporting a foreign bank account - pretty insane.
I'd say it even trumps the regulations that are largely post-Soviet legacy in countries like Ukraine, for example.
Sure, the foriegn bank is not located in the USA ,but many of them have branches in the USA, or are in one way or another allied with US banks. All of them do business with US banks.
Thus, all of them are liable for "money laundering" which has been defined so broadly that basically anyone can be convicted of it.
So, even though they are non-US entities they are required to file forms with the IRS, and the burden is getting bigger every year, and if they don't they risk censure under OECD rules or being fined as HSBC was, etc.
It's easier to just not do business with US citizens.