Tech City UK Community Resources

In the UK the digital business and startup ecosystem is developing fast. There are a range of different places you can look for help, whether you’re looking for support with finance, recruiting a team or finding an office.

We’ve curated some of the sources of help available below. Please get in touch if you’d like to add a resource.

Accelerators and Co-working Spaces

Education and Useful Information

Events and Networking

Jobs

Funding and Finance

Crowdfunding

Relevent Regulators

Broadband

High-speed broadband is one of the key building blocks that drives success for every digital business.

Our aim at Tech City UK is to see faster, more cost-effective broadband solutions brought to market.

That’s why we are working with broadband providers to make sure they understand the needs of entrepreneurs and digital businesses.  We’ve also published a series of blogs with ideas about how to get your business better connected:

Broadband 101 series – Part 1 – Explaining the broadband landscape and what challenges you may face.

Broadband 101 Series – Part 2 – How to get the right broadband for your business.

Broadband 101 Series – Part 3 – How the Connection Voucher Scheme can help you.

These posts touch upon the challenges to connection, both contended and uncontended services, the different technologies on offer, and include information about the Connection Voucher Scheme.

We are constantly seeing new products and providers emerging to offer greater choice to digital  businesses. In addition, existing providers are evolving their service offerings.

We recommend therefore that you look carefully at all the options available now – it might take some time but choosing the right connection is a business-critical decision. Other useful sources of information include:

We suggest you contact a range of providers and check their offers against your needs now and your future growth plans.  From our work across the UK ecosystem, there are four basic points you should consider but you may need to rank these to reflect your business requirements:

  • cost
  • speed
  • reliability – including response times if the connection goes down
  • installation lead times

We understand that fast and reliable broadband is the lifeblood of your business so we’d like to hear from you about your experiences. How do you feel about the service you receive from your provider? Are you facing issues with installation or ongoing service? Where are the best sources of advice?

Got a problem? Get in touch.

Please get in touch via info@techcityuk.com.  Using the subject line ‘Broadband’, please provide an outline of your issue and details that will help us deal with your request (including company name, address, service provider, order details (date and number)). We will do what we can to help bring your issue to the attention of service providers and policymakers.

Property in London

Tech City originated in Shoreditch and Old Street, with an aspirational wave of tech companies setting up from there to the Olympic Park.

Digital businesses are been growing all over London, accounting for 42% of all property take up last year.

Rents have risen across London, and you can expect to pay £40 psf for grade A space in Tech City. But in other, close by parts of London, space can be accessed for £12 per foot, and there are still developers and landlords who are willing to offer short term, below market deals.

We recommend in all property transactions you have an agent act on your behalf, unless you are looking for co-working space. Get in touch with our property desk for help in finding an agent.

 

Resources

If you are looking for co-working space, Gocowo is one useful resource.

You can find listings for office space at Hubble and Tower10.

If you’re looking for retail space then We Are Pop Up, and Appear Here can help.

Looking for a working space part-time? Check out Meanwhile Space.

See how the government can help.

 

Local Developers Include:

Useful Reading

There are lots of great writers and bloggers out there on the topics of entrepreneurship and digital. Here are just a few we read.

Please add a resource that you think might help others.

 

Watch the Intro to Tech City from IncuBus Ventures:

 

Startup Stories

Hear from entrepreneurs and startups who’ve been through the joys and growing pains of building a digital business.

Access Route to Market Options

Growth depends on tapping into and exploiting a demand for products and services, and our experts can help.

Technology has made it easier to source products, find distributors and develop relationships with customers across the globe. But it has made competition stiffer, ushering in competitors from all over the world. It is more important than ever for businesses to clearly research the market they plan to grow into, the potential for growth and how best to exploit these opportunities in the shortest possible time frame.

Tech City UK’s FolioShack gave us their thoughts on the importance of knowing your place in the market.


Alex Peretti

Alex Peretti

Founder and CEO of FolioShack on assessing routes to market

“Ensuring your product or model satisfy a real business need is everything.

The decision to purchase needs to be a no-brainer – it should be a ‘must have’ rather than ‘nice to have.’

At FolioShack, we’ve built a platform that creates interactive and trackable documents that work on any device – a true end-to-end solution. Simply put, our product makes it much easier and quicker to generate documents, creating cost savings for the type of business that use our service.

Our clients are able to integrate these into their business in a very sticky way. Once you’ve identified this value and the place you occupy in your market, ensuring you focus on pursuing it is key. Do this well, and clients and customers will become your champions. Continuing to deliver great product and service will ensure they’ll help spread the word far and wide.”

Tax Considerations

The UK tax system can be a challenge for new businesses, who need to consider three key questions: Which taxes concern me? What are my legal requirements and tax rates? And the big one: Where can I get help?

Tech City UK offers links to a wide range of services to help you come to grips with tax and make the most of what’s on offer (like Gloople did below). Don’t forget, the UK offers one of the world’s most ambitious packages of policies and business incentives, including a large number of tax credits and tax rate reductions. So what’s stopping you?


Warren Knight

Warren Knight

Founder and CEO of Gloople on the tax break that can help securing early stage funding

“Funding the early stages of growth is a common challenge and like many, we hit a funding roadblock last year. We needed to continue to invest, to develop our brand into a SaaS online store builder, giving a cost-effective solution and delivering certainty to SMEs.

To raise this investment, we partnered with the Conduit Consultancy to guide us through the investment cycle.

Our clients are able to integrate these into their business in a very sticky way. Once you’ve identified this value and the place you occupy in your market, ensuring you focus on pursuing it is key. Do this well, and clients and customers will become your champions. Continuing to deliver great product and service will ensure they’ll help spread the word far and wide.”

Accounts Preparation and Compliance

Keeping good accounts is not just advisable for a small business, it’s essential and the Tech City UK team can help introduce you to the right advisor, expert and accountant.

Charlie Munger calls accountancy “the language of practical business life” and he’s right – and if you’re not fluent we can help you find someone who speaks the lingo. It’s not just for legal and tax purposes that you need your books in order: proper accounting can show you how much your business is worth, demonstrate ways it can grow and highlight future pitfalls. We asked Geckoboard to tell you more.


Paul Joyce

Paul Joyce

Co-founder of Geckoboard explains the importance of getting a handling on accounting processes

To run a successful start-up you need to have a great idea but you also need to be able to run a business

Our advice is to spend your time and energy on the stuff you are great at (being an entrepreneur) and get yourself a great accountant.

One of the main things our accountant does is to prepare monthly management accounts. They also run our payroll, ensure we pay our VAT, and meet our other compliance requirements.

However, what makes our accountant special is their understanding of the start-up world. We can call him directly whenever we want to ask him questions; he appreciates the need to be flexible as well as the need for the quick turn-around of information. A good accountant is invaluable – get one and free yourself to focus on the other stuff!

Staff Recruitment

They say people who need people are the luckiest people in the world. So why is recruitment always so difficult?

The Tech City UK team are committed to making hiring less tiring through links with agencies that understand the needs of small businesses (and the sometimes very specific skill-sets you’re seeking). One of our key contacts is Silicon Milkroundabout, the UK’s best ‘tech startup job fair’ (in our opinion) and a great way to find your next employee of the month.

Tim Davey of onefinestay.com knows what we’re talking about – he found his current developers and product managers at the magic roundabout.


Tim Davey

Tim Davey

Head of Product and co-founder of Onefinestay on recruiting the technical talent to grow a rapidly-expanding business

Fast-growing, early-stage companies face huge challenges in terms of expanding their teams to support the pace of growth. We’ve built an incredibly talented team of 150 in fewer than three years, but perhaps our toughest recruitment challenge has been growing our Engineering and Product team – the backbone of a technology-enabled business.

It’s still difficult to find start-up ready technical talent in London, and for us this is where the Silicon Milkroundabout’s events have come into their own

We have always been impressed by the crowd they attract – so much so that we’ve never come away without a new member of the team.

Meeting top technologists without hefty recruiter fees makes Silicon Milkroundabout one of the most effective channels for recruitment, and they’re also encouraging ‘working at a startup’ as a career path in London. This will be invaluable if Tech City UK is to continue to grow.

Re-Locate Staff

There’s no question the Internet has made the world smaller: we live in a global marketplace, operate within a global economy and more businesses have global clients than ever before. But what about employing staff members from overseas?

International staff can offer more than just filling a skills gap, they can bring a fresh perspective and global connections to a growing business. Tech City UK work with advisors, worldwide partners and local experts to make the process simpler and less expensive than you might think. The expertise you need might not be just around the corner, but we’ll help bring them closer.


George Spencer

George Spencer

CEO and Founder of Rentify on how to hire from abroad

We’ve faced a challenge around a real shortage of engineering talent in the UK. After hiring through domestic recruiters, we began placing adverts online, which provided global reach and attribute-matching to advertise roles to a broader audience. Bringing someone over from San Francisco is expensive but still cheaper than the fees to pay a recruiter for a C-level hire.

After we decided on the guy for us, we worked on getting him a Visa which turned out to be very easy: fill in an application form online for granting a Tier-2 visa, and then hold an interview with the UK Border Agency.

The interview is straightforward. All of the documentation is available on the UKBA website, with their chief concern being that the company has a history, a future, and some credibility, so provided companies can demonstrate this there should not be a problem.

Find a Property

Securing the right premises for your business is a critical decision, and Tech City UK understands the needs of growing digital companies.

We know the right space needs to reflect the culture and personality of your business and express your values. It needs to inspire your staff and send the right signal to partners and suppliers, or customers and clients. Location enables proximity to other, fast-growing, digital tech businesses, and of course allowing room for expansion and growth is also a key consideration.

We asked Tech City UK’s GoCardless for their tips on moving from a shared working space to their own pad.


Tom Bloomfield

Tom Bloomfield

Founder of GoCardless on finding the right place

The key to getting a good deal is understanding how as a start-up, you are different to most other companies.
In six months, you’ll likely either be bankrupt or double the size

This makes it irrational to have a three-year lease. If you’re happy to potentially move around every 6-12 months, look for “fag-end” leases – the remainder of a 5- or 10-year lease taken by companies that have gone bankrupt or moved to a bigger space.

You can get significant discounts (up to 80% off) in return for accepting a short-term lease and a potentially slightly grubby office. We found brokers were expensive but quite unhelpful, and instead went straight to commercial estate agents for these leases.

If you’re lucky it will contain furniture from the previous company or you can keep an eye out for other companies upgrading their offices.

Negotiating Leases

For a small start-up a commercial lease may be your biggest overhead, but negotiating this can be a fresh hell for the uninitiated.

When everything from the length of the lease, the cost of maintenance and the rent itself being up for negotiation, you’ll need your own local expert beside you to even the playing field. With our own team providing advice, and links with the best local consultants and property advisors, we can help ease the burden small businesses face before they’ve even got their keys.

If You Can explains how Tech City UK helped smooth their move.


Ben Geliher

Ben Geliher

Co-Founder at If You Can on negotiating leases

The difficulty we have, is we’re just so busy getting the business going that we haven’t got a great deal of time to focus on finding space that is the right size and location.

Not only is it difficult but it’s massively time consuming and outside of our area of expertise – it’s hard to know where to begin.

Our experience has been that there is a lot of small spaces (approx. 600 sq. ft and below) and a lot of large space (5,000 sq. ft).

Through London and Partners we’ve been in contact with an independent commercial property adviser – and they’ve been very helpful, navigating us through the whole process of finding the right place and managing the negotiations with the landlord.

It’s definitely an area where we’ve benefited from expert advice and support.

Moving To London

London is a great place to do business – and that’s not just our opinion. We’re home to Europe’s fastest growing tech cluster, we’ve got three times more European HQs than any other city and more than 540,000 tech graduates call London home.

So if you’re keen to open a new office, a headquarters or even relocate to London, Tech City UK are ready to help. Through key support agencies like London and Partners and UKTI, companies can seek advice and assistance with business registration, office location, market analysis, and even finding accommodation for your staff.

Yammer Inc. explains how we helped them cross the pond with ease.


Mike Grafham

Mike Grafham

Customer Success (EMEA) at Yammer Inc on setting up in London

We were trying to service our European customers from the US – the wrong side of an eight-hour time difference. We needed a base in Tech City to get closer to our European clients and grow our customer base. The spread of sectors in London is also a real attraction, it’s an inspirational, up-and-coming and vibrant scene.

There are lots of companies here that we might partner with because of the convenience of meeting up.

Both London & Partners and the team at Tech City know the city inside out, we really benefited from working with them. London & Partners and UKTI helped us with office location and introductions to fit-out companies and related service providers.

As a result, we opened our HQ in London with 15 staff in February 2011 and are on track to double over the next couple of years.

Marketing and Communications

Digital companies know the importance of marketing better than anybody – especially as the virtual worlds in which we work has become the key battleground for attracting and keeping a customer base.

But having a virtual product or service doesn’t necessarily make start-up companies experts at creating brand awareness, finding new markets or developing a strategic vision.

Tech City UK and partners offer a range of support to help new companies thrive in a world of marketing and comms that continues to evolve, to keep your customers engaged, your products trending and your profits growing. We asked Tech City UK’s Nuji.com for their top tips for marketing and communications – and some of them may surprise you!


Dean Fankhauser

Dean Fankhauser

Co-Founder of Nuji on marketing and communications

Never hire a person to do your marketing who doesn’t have a very thorough understanding of product and technology. Learn what your market is and don’t target the tech community by default.

Don’t press the hype button until your product is ready – which is when your engagement numbers are through the roof (in the early stages the amount of users you have doesn’t matter). You’ll never grow if your user’s actions don’t touch people outside of your website’s immediate network – make sure this happens.

If you can, create a pull instead of a push strategy in regards to developing business networks. We don’t reach out to any of our clients – they come to us and they can sign up without having to contact us at all.

The other major lesson I learned is to call – you don’t need to have a physical meeting with a client to get their business.

Raising Investment

Tech City UK understands the importance of investment and fundraising for start-ups very well.

In fact it’s part of our mission is to make it easier for investors to reach our community, with a series of schemes, incentives and programmes proudly detailed in our Investors section. This means that for our businesses we’re able to make the right introductions and also provide support for those preparing to pitch or building a business plan.

And we thought who better to share their tips than Taavet Hinrikus of Tech City UK’s TransferWise, who recently won £6m in early stage funding. Here’s how.


Taavet Hinrikius

Taavet Hinrikius

co-founder of TransferWise gives his advice on fundraising

We’ve just announced $6 million early-stage funding led by Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures – his first in Europe. This is a fantastic match for Peter Thiel didn’t come to us – and we had to get a few things right before we approached him. Firstly, we had to show traction with our product.

Fundraising is not about knocking on investor’s doors with a long business plan. Investors want to see working products and happy customers.

Secondly, we had to explain the size of our vision and how we were solving a problem that many people have. It’s the first question every good investor asks!

Sell the skills and credentials of your early team – top class talent attracts top class funders. Never forget that finding investment is a two-way process. Do your due diligence on possible investors.

Do they have experience in your sector? Avoid the temptation to take money from just anyone.