Starting a Business in East London: Pixel & Dot

The creative start-up tells us why beautiful scenery, a vibrant culture, and cheap living costs makes East London a great base to launch a business from

Company name: Pixel & Dot
Founders: Barney Stephens and Helen Wright
Description: Pixel & Dot is an independent graphic and web design consultancy

What’s great about starting a business in East London?

East London and our base, Greenwich, is an incredible place. Having lived here for five years, I knew that this was always going to be the best location for me to start my graphic and web design studio.

By being a bit further out of the city centre, rent is a bit cheaper but you still have all the conveniences of the fantastic transport links to quickly meet with clients and suppliers, or its multitude of cafés and workspaces when you fancy a bit of lunch or a change of scenery. Being near to Greenwich’s wealth of historical buildings and landmarks is also a constant source of inspiration for creative process and work.

What business support in the area have you used? How was it?

We haven’t needed to seek professional support yet, as we initially met with Barney’s brother, Bertie Stephens (Flubit founder), to discuss our business plan and since then he has given us ongoing advice on how to avoid the potential risks of being a start-up, but it’s great to know it’s there if we need it.

In Greenwich you have access to South East Enterprises that advise on growth, tendering and procurement, and online marketing. All of their advisers have run their own business which means you get to speak to someone who knows first-hand what you’re trying to achieve and what problems you may face getting there. They also run Space @ the Gate, a co-working space where you can have a break from working at home and meet other like-minded entrepreneurs.

Name the top three reasons to set up a business in East London:

  1. Transport links: Getting to and from Greenwich from Central London is so quick and easy. You can use the DLR, underground, overground, riverboat, buses and even a cable car to get where you need to. National Cycle Route 4 also links Greenwich to London Bridge and beyond.
  2. Cost of living: Being slightly further out of the city centre, the cost of living (rent, food etc.) is cheaper than many central locations. As a start-up keeping your overheads down is very high on the priority list.
  3. Greenwich itself: What is not to love about this area? It is full of beautiful architecture, plenty of shops, restaurants and bars. And no matter how many times I’ve walked around it, I never get bored of the park – the views from the observatory and One Tree Hill are some of the best in the London, if not the world.

Where could East London be better / what does it need?

One thing that Greenwich is lacking at the moment is a regular meet up for local entrepreneurs (that we’ve come across anyway!). Greenwich is known for it’s creative demographic, so I imagine that something like that would be very popular and a great way to network.

How easy has it been to access finance to grow?

On the run up to launching Pixel & Dot in January, we began to line-up potential projects so that we had a foundation to build on from day one. We are also trying to keep our overheads as low as possible by purposely keeping our team small and working from home.

Because of this we haven’t needed any financial support just yet, so I can’t really comment on the quality of funding in the area. However, having the major banks just a short walk away has been very useful, especially when trying to setup in the beginning.

Where do you go to network in your area?

Mainly we use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram to network, but we also partake in many of the exciting creative events in the capital, such as LongLunch talks at the Design Museum, CreativeMornings and TypoCircle. Our office also runs a digital event meet-up once a month.

Where do you take a client for a business lunch?

Our favourite meeting place is the café in the Maritime Museum. It’s such a grand location, with plenty of space and light, and somewhere our clients have often not been to before. It never fails to impress. It was also the place where my business partner and I first sketched out our ideas for the company, so it will always be an important place to us for that reason.

Where’s great for a company night out?

For food it has to be Bianco 43, I’ve never had a bad meal there and the staff are always extremely welcoming. For a drink, I think that the atmosphere in the Old Brewery is fantastic, set in such a unique location surrounded by the Old Naval College. 



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