Launching a tech start-up: Should you start a business in London?

Is London the "land of opportunity"? Find out why a number of tech start-up founders decided to launch their businesses in the capital...

It’s no secret that most new tech start-ups opt to base their headquarters in London. A quick skim of recent news stories demonstrates how the capital and its diverse boroughs are becoming somewhat of a mecca for tech entrepreneurs:

Last month, Croydon – now home to over 1,000 tech, creative and digital businesses – was named the “Silicon Valley of the South” by UHY Hacker Young for having achieved GVA growth rates of 9.3%.

In terms of attracting talent, budding entrepreneurs in the Clerkenwell and Islington area are soon to benefit from the launch of a major tech start-up campus from San Francisco’s very own office-providers, while Europe’s “largest” innovation centre is set to come to East London in January 2017.

What’s more, London’s eco-system has enabled early-stage tech start-ups to develop into fast-growth firms.

For instance, 42 out of the 100 businesses listed in the recent Sunday Times’ 2016 Tech Track index are based in London while 22 of the 30 companies founded by the Young Guns Class of 2016 have their headquarters in London.

But should you set-up your tech business in London?

We’ve gathered comments from a number of early-stage tech start-up founders on why they made the decision to set-up a London HQ and why they would recommend you do the same…


Action point: Search shared workspaces and assess if it could be worth co-working with other start-ups (external site, opens in new tab)

“In London it somehow seems normal to give up a well-paid corporate job to take on risk”

Alternative QR code start-up Quikkly says:

“London is amazing because there’s a great engineering talent pool and big and growing, energised start-up community. In London it somehow seems normal to give up a well-paid corporate job to take on risk and do something innovative that you passionately believe in. There is also a decent investment community at all levels.”

“There’s a real demand for technology and innovation”

Video conferencing solution Lytespark:

“Business in London is thriving and the city is home to hundreds of disruptive start-ups and innovative small businesses. Not only is this an inspiring environment to be a part of, there is also a real demand for technology and innovation that will enhance the way we work, communicate and help small businesses to grow. London’s Tech City sits alongside those of New York and San Francisco.”

“London has a forward-thinking tech scene”

Music discovery app Muzeit:

“I love London and chose it as our HQ due to its forward-thinking tech scene and vibrant music culture. London is a city full of young, tech-savvy professionals who are always after the next big thing – however they also know how to have a good time. London’s nightclubs are some of the best in the world and many of the best music artists of all time have based themselves in London.”

“Moving to London allowed us to meet more often with our most important stakeholders”

Science-based discovery engine Sparrho:

“We moved from Cambridge to Camden Collective in London and most recently moved to to the Ministry of Startups in Shoreditch. Each of our work-spaces connected us with great networks, which have all contributed to what Sparrho is today.

“We’re now immersed in a community of tech start-ups which exposes us to a plethora of agile teams with different strategies to disrupt their target verticals. Time is of course our most precious resource, and our proximity to investors, academic and industrial partners, and a large range of research universities and institutes, allows us to meet more often with our most important stakeholders face-to-face.”

“It’s the land of opportunity”

Brand-sponsored record label Secret Sessions:

“London = the land of opportunity! It has everything you need to succeed at your finger tips, surrounded by inspiration and talent to help drive any start-up forward.”

“The ability to connect in London is vital for our start-up to grow”

Careers app Debut:

“London has a great amount of universities which offers a great talent pool of potential new users.

“The capital is also the UK’s hub for technology companies and gives us the chance to network with other companies, some of which can sign up to use the app and invest in the company. This ability to connect is vital for our start-up to grow and through this growth we can offer our users a better service and better opportunities with fantastic companies.”

“London attracts smart and driven people”

Shoppable video start-up Smartzer:

“People are the most important part of building a great company. Therefore, one of the best things about being based in London is access to talent, both from a programming and business perspective. London is becoming more and more established in the worldwide start-up scene, which further attracts smart and driven people to this city.”

“A great place to get a tech start-up journey on the road”

Restaurant discovery app FoodMood:

“It is no secret that London is a great place to get a tech start-up journey on the road. With more than 250,000 people in digital employment, it’s an amazing city to meet and share experiences with like-minded people, recruit talent and find investors.”

“London is culturally diverse”

Collaborative software development platform Gitter:

“I think [the best thing] is the cultural diversity of London and how well connected it is to the rest of the world. Our small team of nine hold five different passports and live in six different cities.”

Not convinced by the case for starting a tech business in London?

Then check out our guide to the UK’s best start-up cities outside of London here and read recommendations from tech founders in other tech hubs such as Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham and Newcastle.

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