Jane Imrie

Regional focus: How scaling businesses can thrive in London

The largest city in the UK, London is an iconic global capital - welcoming billions of tourists and overseas visitors each year.

The home of the country’s government and prominent financial institutions, the city is known around the world as a hub for big business as well as SMEs and fledgling enterprises.

Bdaily spoke with businesses and organisations in London to get their take on what the city can specifically offer scaleups, as well as some notable success stories.

Tessa Clarke, co-founder of OLIO

“Over the past five years, London has steadily established itself as a leading light in the global scaleup scene.

“This is due to a multiplicity of factors including access to talent, favourable tax incentives for both investors and startups, and a highly active ‘scene’ of meetups, accelerators and events.

“However, as the world finally wakes up to the climate crisis and the dangerously inequitable society that now prevails, I would argue that the greatest opportunity for London lies ahead.

“And this is for London to capitalise upon its position as “the best city in Europe to develop and grow ‘tech for good’ solutions” - as identified by Nesta earlier this year - and to pioneer a path forward towards the future that we all want to see.

“That’s why London has been such a great incubation ground for OLIO, as we profoundly believe in the power of ‘tech for good’ to solve society’s biggest problems, including the problem of food waste.”

Pete Reis-Campbell, founder & CEO of Kaizen

“Being in London has been pivotal to our success as it has the very best in creative, marketing and tech talent and the vast majority of our client’s offices are local.

“It’s also supported our growth massively due to the continuing trend in co-working spaces, flexible office space and let’s face it - it’s just a plain awesome city.”

“I started Kaizen in my bedroom in Dalston when I was 25 with zero-investment as I saw a growing trend to produce digital content for brands and use it as a form of online PR.

“After four months at home, I moved into a co-working space in Haggerston and took on our first two employees as we secured projects with River Island and a number of FinTech brands.

“A lot of business has grown due to just keeping our heads down and having a mindset of producing impressive work - then shouting about it through social media, PR, industry conferences and referrals from our clients.

“This blows my mind still but we’re now a team of 27, won a long list of awards and work with Adidas,, and many others from our HQ in Moorgate.”

Ivana Mearns, CEO and founder of Wedding Crafts Academy

“Although it could not be easier to find support online when it comes to PR, business advice and marketing, attending events in person is, and always will be essential for scaling my business.

“I believe that as business owners [in London], we are spoilt for choice when it comes to events.

“To start with, each London-based business can probably find an event or at least an informal meet up where they can discuss their niche. In my case, I tend to visit events hosted by organisations such as The Royal Society of Arts and the Craft Council.

“Many of my business decisions are based on information I learned at events, especially when it comes to digital marketing and social media.

“Attending events also helps me to adopt a holistic approach to my business strategies, as I have the chance to listen to other entrepreneurs’ success stories as well as the challenges they face.”

Dhruvin Patel, optometrist & founder of Ocushield Ltd

“London has all the ingredients to help scale businesses. It has proven this with a business I founded in 2015 called Ocushield. We research and develop consumer goods to help relieve eye strain and improve sleep after staring at digital device screens.

“As a physical product business being in London, it has allowed me to utilise a strong network within the Tech City community which is collective of businesses in the London area.

“City University and CASS business school where I studied have been monumental in the launch and introduction to angel investors whom in turn decided to invest capital into Ocushield.

“This allowed us to rebrand, improve product and scale operations. Due to the close proximity and the engaged network of entrepreneurs this has been a real asset in being able to seek help, mentorship and guidance through the scale-up phase.

“It’s no surprise that all founders need support from people who have gone through similar challenges. London has this in abundance, whatever industry you are operating in and It a big luxury to have!

“This will only grow stronger and the amount of successful business grow in the capital. It’s an amazing time to launch a business.”

Gene Gerrienne, partner - UK and International at Early Metrics

“For players like us operating in the startup and corporate innovation scenes, London offers a wealth of resources.

“Not only does it have a mature and diverse ecosystem of startups and corporates, but also an international and skilled talent pool. The latter was instrumental in our growth in the UK and beyond.

“For instance, when we decided to expand to Germany, we were able to hire German-native employees in our London office to test market appetite remotely. This meant that when we finally opened a base in Berlin, we had already done some of the groundwork and were able to successfully penetrate the market.

“Moreover, London remains the main entry point into Europe for major international groups and its connectedness to American and Asian markets has opened many doors for Early Metrics.

“Through our work with Barclays Rise, for example, we were able to rate cutting-edge startups and meet valuable players based in the US. London’s reputation as a tech hub also led us to work with Japanese groups, such as Dai-ichi Life and Nomura.

“Lastly, organisations like the Knowledge Transfer Network, Innovate UK and London & Partners helped us tremendously in connecting to partners, meeting prospects and scaling our business.”

What are your thoughts on how London benefits scaling bsuinesses. Join the conversation on Twitter with @Bdaily and #ScaleupFocusWeek.

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