Tech City UK Blog

This is a guest post from Custard Factory, the creative and digital quarter in Digbeth, Birmingham.

In 2016, the UK had 328,000 startup deaths, with failure rates in some areas reaching as high as 49%!

Yep, a shocking number of fantastic “Eureka!” ideas sadly don’t get anywhere near to their full game-changing/spine-tingling potential. 

So, now that we’re in the nitty gritty of March and the tranquil honeymoon of the New Year has finally fizzled out, we’ve asked some of the UK’s leading entrepreneurs, influencers, investors, and all-round tech experts for their top tips to give your startup the best possible opportunity to survive & thrive in 2018.

Get ready folks, here are the top tips for tech startup success…

Emma Jones, Founder at Enterprise Nation

“My top tip for startup success is to base a business on doing what you love. That way the hours of commitment required will never really feel like work.

“Have a plan from the outset, embrace technology, keep the sales coming in and surround yourself with support. That way, you simply can’t go wrong!”

Rob Styles, CTO at Day Out With The Kids

“When deciding on tech, you can build good or bad solutions using pretty much any technology.

“So, pick a technology stack that is easy to hire for — that means plenty of good people using it; wanting to use it; and using it to solve the same kinds of problems you’re solving.”

Rob Nniaz, Founding Partner at Hoxton Ventures

“My main advice for any company is to make something that makes people passionate. Whether it’s accounting software or a consumer app, your early users should be using it all the time and telling you they couldn’t survive without it.

“If you can create something like that it shows you’re solving a real problem, that’s the best indicator that any given startup is a ‘true business’.”

Sarah Dawood, Deputy Editor at Design Week

“Don’t latch onto a design trend without considering your audience. There’s no winning formula for branding – think about the kind of people you’re going to be targeting before hitting everything with a flat-graphic symbol, minimal colour palette and sans-serif typeface, just because Deliveroo and Uber have done that. It’s also important to avoid technical jargon in a brand name, and any symbols that look robotic and ‘clever’ but are too abstract and don’t mean anything to the average person. Keep it simple, straightforward and inject wit where appropriate.”

Luke Lang, Co-Founder at Crowdcube

“When starting out or pitching for investment, it’s important to have a crystal clear proposition, delivered with personality and passion. Some of the most successful raises on Crowdcube, such as Monzo, which raised £1m in 96 seconds, have been able to summarise the business and its ambition in just one line – ‘the bank of the future’, so it’s definitely quality over quantity when it comes to explaining what you do.”

Tushar Agarwal, Co-Founder & CEO at Hubble

“When searching for your ideal office space, it is paramount to find somewhere that suits the personality of your business. Not just by interior design, but also by the people and ideas that surround you. Co-working spaces have been instrumental in providing a community of proactive and exciting networks to help you accelerate growth. It’s also worth mentioning that you no longer need to get tied into a long lease as there are a huge range of flexible spaces that can adapt to your business as you scale.”

Nick Holzherr, CEO at Whisk.com and Joinair.com, blogger at nickholzherr.com

“It’s too easy to waste large amounts of your time – taking calls, attending meetings and going to events that won’t materially move your business forward.

“My tip is to ruthlessly focus on things that will help you get to where you want to get to. Been invited to an event that’s not directly relevant? Taking meetings to be sold something you weren’t looking for? Travelling hours to meetings that are likely to add little value? Work on something that’s important. You won’t regret it.”

Simon Jenner, Co-Founder of Silicon Canal

“Focus is key, it’s so easy to go chasing new markets or lots of different opportunities at once.

“Keep it simple, focus on one thing and do it amazingly well, make customers happy and retain them. Focus, Focus, Focus.”

Sam Bentley, CEO at UNILAD

“Instagram is the perfect platform to allow your fans and customers to build a personal connection with your brand. Between carefully chosen hashtags and location tags, you can get your business in front of thousands of eyes very quickly and efficiently.

“Whether it’s a local clothing company showcasing new products, or a tech company showing some of the behind the scenes work they’re doing to make the audience feel a bigger part of their product, it’s a social network that needs to be embraced by entrepreneurs at all stages of their journey.”

Jos Smart, Upscale Programme Lead (Tech City UK)

“Scaling is a tremendous challenge and one that shouldn’t be attempted in isolation. Chances of success are greatly improved if you have access to two groups of people; founders on the same journey as you and those who have already successfully scaled a business. The first group provide an invaluable opportunity to share best practice and provide moral support through the ups and downs of what can often be an isolated position as founder. The second group can share key insights and help flag potential pitfalls companies face as they scale.”

In conclusion, we highly recommend that you heed all these superb expert entrepreneurial tips from these true titans of business (err…yes, we are shamefully sucking up a bit here) to give your startup the best possible chance of succeeding in 2018. GOOD LUCK!   

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