Thinking about the UK? Don’t Just Relocate, Co-Locate
There has been quite a bit of press this year about the rising cost of basing your tech startup in London. Motherboard provided a good summary here, identifying the rise of multinationals wishing to have a place in Shoreditch and the emergence of coworking spaces across the city. As with all open markets, supply and demand has led to rising rent and there is no shortage of demand- there is something like 3000 companies/square kilometre in these postcodes now.
As was the case with Tech City, word of diminishing space and rising costs is starting to get out to international companies considering the UK as the logical place to take their company to the next level. For example, I recently had a discussion with an interesting Maltese cyber-security startup that was considering London vs a return to Italy for the next phase of growth. While the benefits that the UK offer (Entrepreneur’s relief, competitive taxes and ridiculously good investment schemes) were very attractive, the threat of stifling operating costs was a real worry.
While these companies have a valid concern, they are overlooking a clear alternative path- co location.
This was the choice I made very early with my own company, Synoptic Technologies. As a startup trying to grow quickly without fundraising, cost containment is as important as access to customers. I also need access to IT talent and collaboration with leading academic institutions. The answer for me- The Surrey Research Park in Guildford and Central Working in London.
In a very cost-effective way I can have my proverbial cake and eat it too. I have an expanding team of talented developer on a research park that has allowed us to grow (moving 3 times in a year) while my sales and marketing team utilise the co-working spaces of London. Customers love coming to visit and get that Fast Company startup feel and I have access to offices all across the City as I need them. Both offer flexibility and reasonable costs-essential for my company.
There is also strong regional expertise that we benefit from. Surrey has the emerging 5G Innovation Centre that allows us to be close to innovation and expertise. Other regions like Birmingham which are an hour outside of London are recognised leaders in advanced manufacturing and nanotech. Finally, we can’t overlook the Golden Triangle and the growth of Manchester’s tech community and Tech North.
Setting up in the UK makes a lot of sense these days. Availability to seed capital is at an all time high and there is great international talent and access to global markets. Further, valuations are going up and there are more acquisitions. If you are thinking about the UK don’t despair- do yourself a favour and consider co-location.
Stephen Mooney is a full time entrepreneur and part-time blogger on topics ranging from challenges facing start-ups, to pop culture to running. He is currently part of the UKTI’s Global Entrepreneur Programme and CEO of Synoptica. Synoptica is a leading SaaS platform that helps organisations to uncover, rank and engage with innovative SME’s.