A few months ago at a conference it was suggested to us that to believe Silicon Roundabout was a new land of opportunity was an illusion, borne out of an economic crisis and a government ever vigilant to an opportunity.
We asked three leading entrepreneurs what 2012 held for them and whether being located outside of ‘Silicon Roundabout’ had made any difference to business growth or respectability?
James Meekings, co-founder of Funding Circle, located in Southwark.
Silicon Roundabout may well be relatively new, but I have no doubt that over the coming years we will see a number of globally successful businesses emerge from this eco-system – and we may well enjoy watching these businesses emerge from across the river in our Southwark-based office.
When we moved here, we wanted a location which made it easy to get to meetings across London, and was easily accessible for our team – all at a reasonable cost. Not an easy ask in London but we think Southwark offers these things. We’ve been here for a year now and we’re really enjoying it.
We’ve also found there’s a good mix of businesses around us, including a growing number of tech-based businesses. Zoopla and RateSetter are both here so there is an emerging community right on our doorstep. The phrase Silicon Bankside has even been bandied around by a few enthusiasts!
Because we mix internet tech and financial services, which are traditionally two quite disparate audiences, I don’t think there is a need for us to be seen to be operating in any particular location. Some will benefit from mixing with like-minded businesses in close proximity, but that alone isn’t a formula for success. Businesses will be successful by hard work and dedication, not by a postcode.
Our biggest problem isn’t really where we should be located, but where has enough space to fit our growing staff! I imagine this is something you may well see the same happen with Silicon Roundabout too. Businesses grow and their priorities change.
Simon Hill, Managing Director & Founder of Wazoku an idea management B2B SaaS business, located in West London!
Our business is located in West London. It has been a long standing fascination of mine how much time is spent in this city talking about where a start-up should be located. As a result of the continuing clamour for the Silicon Roundabout band-wagon I have taken it, somewhat upon myself I felt until now (!), to put forward the counter-arguments as to why it really makes very little difference as a tech business whether you are located in a set of narrow postcodes or somewhere else in this well connected, opportunity rich city.
2012 promises to be an exciting year for Wazoku. Our focus is on growth which will be achieved through a combination of marketing and sales activity from my team of stars. As a B2B business our customers are global businesses, typically SME’s. We rarely meet them, but on the occasions we do it is a great experience, few are located in or around Silicon Roundabout.
As we grow we will likely need to expand the team, so recruitment and potentially more office space will follow. This is a more interesting justification for having a more focused community and ecosystem, but I don’t think it stands up to scrutiny. A great start-up is a great start-up and as such location is really not a driving force for people deciding to come and work for you. Also, the legacy reasons like cheaper rents and more space are simply not true any more.
Speaking purely from my experiences with Huddle and now Wazoku, I think location matters, but its far more about being convenient for your team, close to your customers and in a fun, affordable space. On, in, around or nowhere near a roundabout, its all the same to me!
Graham Cooke, Managing Director of Qubit, located in Soho.
Whilst I think the whole Tech City/Silicon Roundabout movement has been a positive for the UK tech scene I, and many other Greater London-based start ups, would argue that the focus on a specific, narrow geography is limiting people’s understanding of what a great place London and the UK are to do business.
Some of the drivers of the UK start-up explosion (great tax benefits, vibrant e-commerce marketplace etc) are true whether you’re based in Shoreditch or Scotland so there’s no real reason why they should have a particular focus on one grimy East London Roundabout. In order to get a better understanding of just how significant the UK’s tech scene is becoming, the industry and the government need to be thinking of tech city as a state of mind rather than a place of business.
Thank you James, Simon and Graham.
Alternatively, to find out more about available office property in the Silicon Roundabout area contact Kushner at www.kushnerproperty.com