Startups Weekly Round Up – 27 February

Female entrepreneurs break records, the dark side of ChatGPT, and ditching the heels for flats in the office

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Welcome to Startups’ Weekly Round Up, where we bring you the latest headlines to keep you in the loop with everything that’s affecting smes in the UK.

The highlights this week:

  • Female entrepreneurs founded a record number of startups in the UK in 2022
  • The UK is named one of the top 10 countries to launch a startup in, with the Czech Republic heading the chart
  • Fewer jobs are asking for a ‘smart casual’ dresscode, as offices transform into places to feel comfortable

Stats to Start Up your week

  • 26% of millennials use slang to fit in with their colleagues and 30% of Brits are using slang words and phrases more frequently within the workplace
  • 61% of people believe they are underqualified for a role in STEM
  • 34% of UK workers would prefer to be paid weekly and 31% regularly run out of money or dip into their overdraft by the end of the month
  • Just 21% of employees work for businesses that tailor their recruitment to neurodivergent candidates and 59% feel there isn't enough support available in their organisations

11 Downing Street and the UK economy – What should startups know?

📊 Topping the charts → the UK was named among the 10 best countries for launching a startup, taking the sixth position out of 50. Business Name Generator built the ranking based on business tax rates, economic GDP growth, and the cost of startup procedures. The study also accounts for country ‘happiness’, the cost of living, and quality of life to find out where the most productive and content employees are located.

The Czech Republic leads the ranking. The UK’s position may be a good omen for Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, who’s keen for the UK to replicate Silicon Valley. However, cuts in R&D tax credits and the closure of TechNation prevent this from being a certain victory.

🦹‍♂️ The cost of living crisis continues to bite hard → employee theft jumped by 19% as pressure from the cost of living increases. The London Metropolitan Police saw the highest number of employee thefts, with 874 incidents last year. Employee theft ranges from petty pilfering of office supplies to the theft of data and embezzlement of company funds. Recent claims included a £150,000 theft by a ring of employees at a food manufacturer and a £50,000 claim from a double-glazing firm defrauded by its finance manager.

👿 ChatGPT’s dark side → cybercriminals have moved quickly to wield the intelligence of ChatGPT, with recent reports suggesting malicious code is now being built via the chatbot and then deployed on businesses. ChatGPT is reportedly being weaponised to build malware, dark websites, and other tools to launch cyberattacks.

Dr Jerzy Biernacki, Head of Operations at Miguido, comments, “In terms of where the responsibility lies, we should expect greater strides being taken by OpenAI following its partnership with heavyweight Microsoft. Implementing robust security measures to prevent unauthorised access or misuse of service will likely be top of the agenda for OpenAI in the coming months.”

It’s now about the comfort, not the fashion

There was a four year high in jobs ads citing a casual dress code, hinting that employees are now looking to feel comfier in the office rather than devilishly fashionable. February 2023 saw 2,927 UK job ads citing a casual dress code, meaning 79.9% promoted relaxed attire. In other words, work heels are being pushed further into the depths of wardrobes and being replaced by trainers and flats.

On the other side of the same coin, businesses using ‘smart casual’ and ‘business casual’ dress codes are diminishing. Only 5.2% of job ads specified a dress code that required ‘smart casual’ attire in February 2023, down from 9.1% in February 2020. Nevertheless ,the retail and property sector continue to have high proportions of ‘smart/formal/ dress codes, with 86.7% and 35.7% of job ads respectively asking for a classier fit.

What explains the phenomenon? Changes in work culture and the Gen-Z workforce making strides could offer a compelling explanation.

She-entrepreneurs broke records

A record 151,603 businesses were founded by female entrepreneurs in 2022, according to a review conducted by NatWest Group's CEO. Despite a bleak economic climate, the number of women founding businesses jumped up from 145,271 in 2021, and doubled from 2018.

Sheila Flavell CBE, COO for FDM Group, said, “The gender gap in business won't be solved instantly, but continued progress is essential to creating a diverse and equal workplace.”

“It is in the best interest of the UK to invest in female-led startups and boost the economy, tapping into female entrepreneurship which provides inspirational leaders for underrepresented groups and future generations.”

Funding Opportunities

Global climate tech accelerator Subak is offering £130k grant funding to 14 not-for-profit climate startups across the UK, Europe, and Asia Pacific. Subak has already funded and scaled 15 startups who have raised £13M in follow-on funding and achieved significant consumer and policy impact. You can apply here. Applications close on 17 March.

Written by:
Fernanda is a Mexican-born Startups Writer. Specialising in the Marketing & Finding Customers pillar, she’s always on the lookout for how startups can leverage tools, software, and insights to help solidify their brand, retain clients, and find new areas for growth. Having grown up in Mexico City and Abu Dhabi, Fernanda is passionate about how businesses can adapt to new challenges in different economic environments to grow and find creative ways to engage with new and existing customers. With a background in journalism, politics, and international relations, Fernanda has written for a multitude of online magazines about topics ranging from Latin American politics to how businesses can retain staff during a recession. She is currently strengthening her journalistic muscle by studying for a part-time multimedia journalism degree from the National Council of Training for Journalists (NCTJ).

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