Starting a Business in Central London: Snaptrip
Snaptrip's founder says that while Central London offers inspiration and vibrancy, urban rent needs to be lowered so that young talent remains in the city
Company name: Snaptrip
Founders: Matt Fox and Dan Harrison
Description: Snaptrip focuses on last minute self-catering holidays via an exclusive membership model operating a flash sales system
What’s great about starting a business in Central London?
London Southbank is an ideal location for Snaptrip. I wanted us to be in an area of London that would allow all our staff to commute easily and within a reasonable time frame, but also that would be a convenient place for going to meetings. Previously we were in Shoreditch, which is obviously popular with start-ups, but the WeWork office we’re currently in is also full of smart people building interesting companies.
Being here has provided a great opportunity for the team to learn from others and network. Several of our investors are also in the building, which is handy when we want to draw from their experience and expertise.
What business support in the area have you used? How was it?
My experience during the early stage of financing Snaptrip was through Forward Partners, who are an e-commerce investment studio. Forward provided all the basics such as office space and an initial resource to help me build the product that I needed, so that I could concentrate on getting the concept from idea stage to minimum viable product (MPV). Once I had found some traction with the business, they also helped me to recruit my technical co-founder Dan, and other staff.
I met with as many CEO’s, advisors, mentors and investors as possible as I believe I take something valuable away from every coffee or meeting I have.
Name the top three reasons to set up a business in Central London:
- Convenience. It is conveniently located to access all parts of the city, making it a great place to commute to and to get to meetings from. For instance, I come in from Richmond, which takes just 20 minutes on the train.
- Competitive pricing. Commercial rents are surprisingly competitively priced for London, especially since East London has seen prices skyrocket in recent years with the growth of Tech City.
- Great atmosphere. It’s vibrant and inspiring. Being near the river means there’s always tourists around and being in a building with about 50 other start-ups at a similar stage is hugely creative and it keeps you on your toes!
Where could Central London be better / what does it need?
The cost of residential rent is having an extremely negative impact on the business environment in London. For an equivalent property, London rates can be double (or more) that of other cities such as Manchester and Birmingham.
Start-ups thrive on the energy and ideas of young people, but if they cannot afford to live in the capital on graduate wages then that is going to be detrimental to the entire business community.
How easy has it been to access finance to grow?
Snaptrip’s funding has come from two successive investment rounds. The first was with Forward Partners, which was £250,000 over three separate tranches of investment. In the second, we secured £450,000 from both Forward and 14 separate angel investors, including Jonathan McKay, chairman of Just Giving.
The SEIS and EIS were particularly useful in terms of attracting the seed funding from angel investors. I do believe that for early stage start-ups there is a great environment for seed cash at the moment, investors want to see entrepreneurs who have identified a problem and an innovative way to solve that problem. If you need money to test and grow, investment and support is out there.
Where do you go to network in your area?
I have a young family, so it is difficult to network as much as I would like to but I am a member of a Founders club that meets once a month. In our office building, the culture is to talk to other businesses, and everyone is keen to share experiences with one another. I have provided several CEOs who are just starting out with advice on getting investment for their companies. It was something that others did for me, so I feel that it is only right that I should do the same. The environment is great for my staff as well as they get to hear about the problems faced by other businesses, which only improves their skills.
Where do you take a client for a business lunch?
We are next door to the Mondrian Hotel, which has a fantastic restaurant for lunch. It has views overlooking the Thames and is a great place to hold a business meeting. Century on Shaftesbury Avenue is also very good.
Where’s great for a company night out?
We had a company night out to an Argentinian restaurant called Buen Ayre in November and it was a wonderful evening. A great atmosphere in the heated garden and the steaks were the best any of us have ever tried. It offered a first class wine selection as well.