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Why Singapore is dubbed the best city in the world to work for a startup

A startup technology employee typically earns around $38,000-$59,000.

When Eugene Huang quit his job in a large offshore bank in Singapore, he did not sign on to the next biggest competitor. Instead he took a chance with a startup called Redbrick Mortgage Advisory, riding a hot employment trend in a city now considered the best in the world for startup workers, according to a new global ranking.

“I remember my daily life was about meetings after meetings — making decisions was a long drawn, cumbersome process as it involves getting various departments to agree on something, and a longer time to take action,” said the 36-year-old director earning US$100,000 per annum.

Huang and other employees in Singapore have seen their pick of startups flourish in recent years. Many now offer an attractive combination of perks that make it compelling to join a promising young company, such as fast-growth excitement, work-life balance, and increasingly competitive compensation.

Ömer Kücükdere, managing director of Nestpick, reckoned Singapore ranked first amongst 85 cities because it offered the best quality of life for those employed in the startup industry based on five criteria: Startup Ecosystem, Salaries, Social Security & Benefits, Cost of Living, and Quality of Life. Singapore particularly shined in healthcare and safety, and its vibrant startup scene with robust career opportunities In Singapore, a startup technology employee typically earns higher right off the bat at $38,000 (entry-level) and climb to $59,000 (experienced).

A marketing neophyte, meanwhile, stands to earn $43,000 but experienced managers can only expect around $58,000.

Singaporean startup employees in project management can expect to earn $34,000 (entry-level) and rise to $66,000 (experienced) per year. “Certain cities may offer bigger paychecks, but after considering taxes and living expenses, the return may not be so high,” said Kücükdere.

Helsinki in Finland ranked second behind Singapore, with San Francisco in US (3rd), Berlin in Germany (4th) and Stockholm in Sweden (5th) rounding out the top 5.

Advantages and disadvantages 
Dorothy Yiu, co-founder and COO of EngageRocket, an employee engagement platform start-up, says Singapore boasts of a friendly start-up community and strong government backing.

“When my co-founder and I were starting out, we received - and we are still receiving - generous help from other startups who were at different stages. We have heard stories of how it gets competitive amongst startups in the Valley but as far as my experience goes, the community in Singapore is more willing to share learnings and mistakes more so than trying to keep knowledge gained as top secret,” she says.

“I am earning less than 20% of what I would have made if I remained in my previous position within a MNC. But the knowledge, experience and satisfaction gained so far outweighs the monetary opportunity cost.” Yiu noted.

Eugene Cheng You Jin, a partner and creative lead of virtual storytelling agency HighSpark, shared some cautionary tales. “We’ve seen numerous startups just ‘disappear’ from the market. There’s always the very real fear that all your work, money and time invested into the business might not pan out in the end. A PR crisis or technological glitch could cripple your startup overnight with the right intensity.”

Chow Liying, founder of OurBraletteClub, a startup that manufactures bralettes, noted that the startup life in Singapore is more exciting and lucrative than ever before because of the strong infrastructure that has been put in place to foster growth in the industry. However, she warns that start-up employees must enter the field with the chance of failure still fully in mind.“Despite all ideas being wonderful, not all turn to fruition and it might cause some disruption in the career path when that happens. If you're in a stage in life where stability is priority, perhaps joining a start-up might not be the best choice. But for anyone else, it's a great big adventure,” concluded the 24 year old entrepreneur.

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