How would a Brexit affect one of London’s hottest start-ups?

From adding complexity to the fundraising process to trade problems, Sup founder Rich Pleeth makes a case for start-ups being better off in the EU...

As the founder of Sup app I’ve enjoyed the benefits of being part of Europe and it consumes a lot of my life.

I have very little time for my passion in politics. However, I do still stay up until 5am watching the Presidential Primaries and, of course, I’m always glued to the TV during the UK elections.

So, as you can imagine, I have a very strong view on Britain’s potential exit from Europe.

I’ve been extremely fortunate to have had an amazing career to date. I was previously the global chief marketing officer at GetTaxi and, before that, I was at Google where I led Chrome Marketing in the UK.

Having resigned from my executive job at GetTaxi in March 2015, I founded Sup app. Sup helps makes chance encounters and moments with friends happen more often without the creep factor, as we don’t use maps.

Brexit will impact start-up investment

I went full-on on the fundraising trail for the business and raised over £400,000 from investors such as JamJar; the fund set up by the Innocent Drinks founders, Force Over Mass Capital, Wahanda founder Lopo Champalimaud, and David Giampaolo of Pi Capital. Fundraising is never easy but we managed to successfully raise after working extremely hard.

We’re currently raising our next round of investment to propel Sup to the next level and we’ve been speaking to European-based funds. With a potential Brexit, we’re already seeing that inward investment is slowing as investors are being even more cautious due to their concern about regulation that may be imposed if there is an exit. The fluctuation in the markets caused by this uncertainty has resulted in high-net worths not having the capital to invest in start-ups.

Brexit will make it harder to source talent

On talent, it’s tough to find developers in London. For our most recent hire we looked outside of the UK and hired a young developer from Lyon; he was able to move to London and start within a matter of days because he’s a European.

Brexit will impact trade

The pound has weakened in the past few days and I don’t foresee that improving with the uncertainty. We have suppliers in the US and Europe so we’re also going to suffer with the exchange rates which affects us greatly as a small business. Let’s not forget that small businesses make up over 60% of the UK’s private sector employment.

Stronger in Europe

As a country we’re stronger in Europe. As a collective Europe we’re more secure. We’re economically and financially stronger together, our trade relationships are stronger, and we don’t want hurdles to deter inward investment or make it harder to export.

So before making up your mind, look at what being part of Europe does for us in terms of trade and for small and large businesses that help the economy grow.

Look at London as the financial hub of Europe with many major corporates housing their headquarters here as they have unfettered access to billions. Cutting off these links would be a financial disaster.

Cameron’s new deal is not perfect but we are better within Europe and we’re better connected. I’d urge you to think about why we’re in Europe and why, as Europeans, we are significantly stronger together.


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