Starting a business in Southampton: Rareloop

The tech start-up tell us why Southampton, with its thriving digital scene and access to strong talent, is the perfect place to start and run a business

Company name: Rareloop
Founder: Joe Lambert and Stephen Cross
Founded: 2011
Description: Rareloop design & create websites and apps for clients of all sizes, from new start-ups to large corporates
Website: www.rareloop.com

What’s great about starting a business in Southampton?

Southampton is a great city with excellent transport links to larger hubs such as London and Birmingham. There’s plenty of office space, including a number of managed business centres with very flexible lease periods which is helpful when starting out. The city also boasts two Universities from which to draw on talent and there is a thriving digital scene which we’ve found encourages a healthy balance of competition and collaboration.

What business support in Southampton have you used? How was it?

We’re still in a process of fully exploring the available local business support. So far we have been able to take advantage of rates relief which certainly helped make the leap from home to leased office. We’ve also made use of subsidised business mentoring through the Growth Accelerator scheme, which has helped us to better plan for structured growth, both in terms of people and turnover.

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

  1. Thriving creative scene – there are a number of regular meet ups and events for digital creatives, from informal social evenings in a local bar to more structured hackdays.
  2. Recruitment possibilities. As mentioned, we have two Universities in the city and we also have Bournemouth University just up the road who have a lot of courses that are a good fit for digital agencies.
  3. Locality to larger cities. It’s also close to a number of beaches and right on the doorstep of the New Forest, so its a great place to live as well as work.

Where could Southampton be better / what does it need?

We’re aware the local Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) have grants available to help businesses employ new staff but the level of administration required is prohibitive for companies of our size. It would be helpful if the process could be tailored around the needs and resources of small businesses so that those that could legitimately make use of the money can get access to it.

How easy has it been to access finance to grow?

We’ve been privately funded from the outset and have been able to grow on our retained profits.

Where do you go to network in Southampton?

When we founded the company we also decided to start a monthly social event for like-minded digital creatives, called Southampton Creatives. The event has been a huge success and helped to better connect similar and complementary businesses in the city.

We’ve also found having an office located in a business centre has helped us connect with other local businesses. On a number of occasions this has also resulted in us winning new work.

Where do you take a client for a business lunch?

We have a purpose built meeting room in the office, so most meetings take place in there; but when we take clients out for lunch there are plenty of local coffee shops, a current favourite is No. 4 Coffee & Wine Bar as it has a great selection of food and plenty of character.

Where’s great for a company night out?

Oxford Street has a great range of bars and restaurants perfect for a quick after work drink or a company meal out.

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