Talent, funding and connectivity “key ingredients” to tech start-up success
Onefinestay’s Greg Marsh and Tech City UK’s Gerard Grech among panel debating growth challenges at Virgin Media Business event
The UK’s technology start-ups need better access to talent, funding and digital infrastructure in order to turn their business into a success; according to a panel discussion hosted by Virgin Media Business at the Trampery Old Street this morning.
Leading tech names including Onefinestay co-founder and Young Gun Greg Marsh, Ratesetter co-founder and CEO Rhydian Lewis and Tech City UK’s Gerard Grech headed up the debate on ‘challenges to business’ and pointed to several promising and concerning areas of the UK eco-system.
While panel chair Emma Jones MBE and Grech agreed London was becoming the “undisputed” capital for digital and tech, the general consensus was that more could be done to support tech businesses in the capital and nationwide.
Marsh highlighted that the biggest challenge he has faced as a fast-growth start-up is people – “whether it’s hiring, retaining talent or creating cultural norms” and said that the process of raising money in the UK “is brutal and incredibly difficult even if you do everything right”.
Marsh continued: “Only deal with venture capital (VC) firms if you want acceleration. The game is how much can you prove and achieve without VC money?! You’ve got to remember that there’s only a handful of VC’s in Europe”.
Conversation also centred around the process of setting up a company with regards to sole founder verses co-founder -the panel (pre-dominantly all co-founders) discussed whether it had helped them grow quicker.
Peter Ward, co-founder of Where Are You Now? (WAYN) compared having a co-founder to a marriage – “it’s someone you have to trust no matter what and you have to have mutual respect for each other – look for someone with complementary skill sets”. Marsh agreed with the metaphor– “it is like a marriage, don’t go jumping into bed with anyone!”.
Connectivity and infrastructure was also a hot topic on the back of Virgin Media Business’ recent announcement that it is making high speed broadband available to Tech City start-ups and plans to ‘transform' the internet in East London's thriving tech hotspot.
Virgin Media Business managing director, Peter Kelly, argued that “good connectivity is the lifeblood for small businesses”:
“We know that it hasn’t been great; not just in Tech City but across the UK. We wanted to shake things up in Tech City, where Silicon Roundabout is giving Silicon Valley a run for its money, by providing start-ups and small and medium enterprises with the fast, bespoke connectivity they need.”