The tech start-up scene in London is one of the world’s most sophisticated. The ‘Big Smoke’ is an economic, technological and cultural force to be reckoned with and so presents great opportunities for those with an early stage pitch idea.
With over 4,000 start-ups, 70+ co-working spaces and over 250,000 digital jobs on offer in London, it is one of Europe’s prime locations for new enterprises.
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As incredible as this growth is, it also means increased competition. One of the core ingredients to building a new business is using your network, so understanding the start-up landscape is an important factor in achieving growth.
Right at the beating heart of the start-up scene are ‘influencers’. These individuals are serial entrepreneurs and all have incredible growth stories themselves. Many of them now work in a more advisory capacity or investment role and tare either directly, or indirectly, responsible for helping London’s start-up scene grow and flourish. They’re passionate, experienced and have a huge sphere of influence online.
Let’s look at 14 of these influencers to find out more about what they do.
1. Nektarios Liolios
He is the co-founder and Managing Director of Startupbootcamp which has been hailed as one of the leading innovation programs in the entire financial industry. Liolios has long been an advocate of speeding up financial processes as he believes the banks don’t work fast enough.
His accelerator programs compress a 12-18 month process into 3 months. You can follow him on Twitter where his handle is @nekliolios.
2. Eileen Burbridge
Despite being born in the United States, Burbridge has gained the moniker ‘the queen of British VCs’ because she is one of the most influential venture capitalists in London. She moved to London in 2004 and founded Passion Capital which is a VC firm. She has invested in ‘Lulu’ a controversial app which enables women to rate men and once declared that she won’t invest in ‘jerks’.
Burbridge has funded over 50 early stage tech start-ups to date including DueDil and you can follow her on Twitter where her name is @eileentso.
3. Mike Butcher
Butcher describes himself as ‘Editor At Large’ of TechCrunch which happens to be one of the world’s biggest and most relevant breaking tech news sites. He has also co-founded TechHub which aims to help fast moving start-ups get office space. Butcher has been named on various ‘influencer’ lists including multiple entries on Wired UK’s Top 100 Influencers.
TechHub has expanded to the stage where it has a presence in 8 different countries and Butcher is said to have supported over 750 start-ups in his career to date. You can follow him on Twitter where his name is @mikebutcher.
4. Chris Gledhill
Gledhill is the co-founder and CEO of Secco, a ‘blockchain-inspired’ challenger bank. According to Gledhill, the purpose of this bank is to disrupt the system from the ‘outside in’ and NOT from the ‘inside out’. His goal is to take on established financial centres which he believes engage in outdated practices. He wants to take banking into the 21st century and ensure it is a truly digital experience.
Gledhill is unquestionably one of the biggest names in FinTech and you can follow him on Twitter @cgledhill.
5. Christian Faes
Faes is the founder and CEO of LendInvest, the world’s biggest online platform for lending and investing in property. Since its launch in 2013, LendInvest has helped property developers raise over £550 million and it is likely to become one of the UK’s next billion pound businesses.
If you’re a property professional in need of short-term finance, Faes is your man! Follow him on Twitter @ChristianFaes.
6. Nic Brisbourne
Brisbourne is yet another influential Venture Capitalist and has been funding companies since 2000. He is currently a Managing Partner at Forward Partners, a VC firm designed to help early stage start-ups. He frequently writes on his blog The Equity Kicker which looks at the latest news in the digital landscape.
One of Brisbourne’s goals is to invest in the UK’s best eCommerce companies and you can follow him on Twitter @brisbourne.
7. David White
White co-founded Kusiri which is a software company that focuses on the development of investigation technology to reduce the risk faced by financial companies. His latest project is import.io which is yet another company that he co-founded. With just a click of a button, you can convert any webpage into a data set which can be used for mining, analysis and a host of other things!
You can follow White on Twitter @davidimportio.
8. Tim Hughes
Hughes spent many years at Oracle UK and always has his finger on the pulse when it comes to the start-up scene in London. Social selling is his area of expertise; this involves using the power of social media to improve sales and discover new business opportunities. Indeed, Hughes has written one of the best known books on the subject called ‘Social Selling: Techniques To Influence Buyers and Changemakers.’
The future of the London start-up ecosystem is bright. We are starting to see a maturing in the start-up ecosystem, when compared to the .com boom in the past. There should be more support from Government, as the start-up scene is the engine room of future business and employment. It would also be great if Government were more vocal in the support of small businesses.
If you want it (and many don’t) there is a wealth of office space, community, talent and mentoring. London is the best city in the world and this pulls a talented and diverse workforce, which creates a rich cocktail of success. Having such a rich talent pool and infrastructure is something that we did not seen previously.
We contribute to the start-up scene by turning founders and / or start-ups into Rock Stars using Social. Personal Branding has become essential when pitching for investment as people only want to invest in “knowns” as it lowers their risk. We help people with Social so they not just “look good on-line” but are using Social they own the narrative they want to be known for. This provides our clients with a competitive advantage, thus standing out from the “start-up crowd”.
We also run start-ups social for them. It is key that people don’t just post on social but approach it with a clear strategy to build influence and community as this will enable start-ups to dominate their market, punch above their weight and scale globally. This acts as the start-ups shop window in terms of potential customer and potential investor reach. We can also work with companies in “stealth” as we can create communities and then switch when the organisation comes out of stealth mode.
If you’re an entrepreneur involved in a London start-up, follow Hughes on Twitter @timothy_hughes to learn more about upselling your products and services on social media.
9. Russ Shaw
Shaw is a founding member of Tech London Advocates, a group of over 2,700 tech professionals. This group works tirelessly to showcase the advantages of having a tech start-up in London as it looks to make the UK capital one of the global leaders in digital business.
Shaw is always campaigning for improvements to the Tech London scene including faster broadband speed and better transport links. You can follow him on Twitter @RussShaw1.
10. Brent Hoberman
Hoberman is best known for Founders Forum, a networking forum designed to bring tech start-ups together and lastminute.com, a site that offers low prices for flights, accommodation and other holiday essentials. In May 2016, he announced his plan to help create 200 British tech start-ups over the next 5 years. In his opinion, things need to change in the industry and he believes the existing accelerators and incubators are not ‘fit for purpose’.
Hoberman also launched the F Factor which is a competition where 14-25 year olds can pitch a business idea with the best ideas receiving a prize of £10,000 in funding. You can follow Hoberman on Twitter @brenthoberman.
11. Spiros Margaris
This investment strategist and innovation consultant has just been named the #1 Global Fintech influencer by Onalytica in 2016 after being named #5 in 2015. As well as being the owner of Margaris Advisory, he is also an advisor to the Fintech Forum and an investor in a number of Fintech start-ups including moneymeets.com and kapilendo.com.
His favourite aspect of the Fintech start-up scene is the customer-centric approach adopted by these companies. Margaris says these organisations use technology, innovation and simplicity to completely reinvent the banking experience. This is one of the reasons why he develops his own Fintech start-ups and invests in others and you can follow Margaris on Twitter @SpirosMargaris.
12. Sallee Poinsette-Nash
Poinsette-Nash is the founder of tallguides.com, a social community and publishing business for tall women. This makes sense as she is 6ft 2 inches tall! She describes herself as a ‘business trouble-shooter’ and is looking to inspire a whole new generation of female entrepreneurs.
As a Londoner, I may be biased but with its history as a long standing cultural and business hub, I believe London is an exceptional place for Startups at any stage of development. Not only is it my home, it is home to a diverse talent pool from all over the world, breeding innovative ideas and promoting entrepreneurialism.
With the outrageous cost of living and the high levels of competition here, I see the future of the London Startup Ecosystem focused firmly on a more collaborative, community approach. Ultimately, it’s all about people and with many of us already co-founding, co-working and co-living to mitigate cost and risk, this new way of working fuels innovation, collaboration and good old fashioned community spirit! Advancing technology and fantastic transport connections allow us to connect and co-work with anyone, anywhere while still reaping the benefits of living in this vibrant city.
I was part of an Escape the City Start Up tribe earlier this year where 50 people from across the globe got together to build startups. The thing which made a difference to every single one of us was our ‘tribe’. All focused on different things, the common theme of ‘building a startup’ is what bonded us. Going against traditional expectations of ‘work’ and taking a leap into the unknown is extremely challenging on so many levels but surrounding yourself with the support of like-minded people is what makes that transition a much easier one.
I’m the Founder of TALL GUIDES, a growing, global community of tall women, built on the belief that it can be hard to #loveyourdifference until you find a place where you are all the same. It is a combination of this project and my lack of tolerance for the ‘gender pay gap’ conversation that has inspired me to take what I do in the fields of business and brand and turn it into a Launchpad for women. WE LAUNCH HER is currently in development – it’s a springboard with a support system, designed to create brighter futures by launching women into more meaningful careers and businesses.
She offers services to help female entrepreneurs get started and focuses on rapid growth start-ups. You can follow Poinsette-Nash on Twitter @SalleeSpeaks.
13. Rishi Chowdhury
Chowdhury is the co-founder of IncuBus Ventures, a company focussed on helping support later stage startups scale their business by providing workshops and connect them to commercial sales opportunities. It used to be a start-up incubator on a bus and they still have the bus but it no longer acts as a work space but more of a vehicle (literally!) to inspire and support entrepreneurship in the UK through partner organisations. It also gives the startups a platform to gain greater visibility. Along with his business partner George Johnston, Rishi was part of the young entrepreneur demographic and he knew first-hand how little support these individuals receive.
Regarding the future of the London start-up ecosystem – It’s come a long way and has matured over the past few years. It is still dominated by small start-ups and support at the early stage, however we have already seen more programmes and government support for later stage start-ups and I see this trend continuing in the future. Hopefully we can see a few more larger exits with some of that experience, knowledge and capital being pumped back into the ecosystem.
How to make it even more attractive? More later stage support by closing the Series A gap. At IncuBus Ventures we hope to be at the forefront of that via our growth programmes.
How do I contribute to the London start-up scene? Mainly via IncuBus London which brings later stage startups and corporates together to bring commercial sales opportunities and knowledge share. I used to host two of London’s popular startup events which are still running and regularly speak at local schools, events and host workshops for early stage startups. I also run a platform to showcase and inspire entrepreneurship.
He hopes that this budget office space solution gives young entrepreneurs the platform they need to grow their start-ups. You can follow Rishi on Twitter @rishi_chowdhury.
14. Richard Moore
Moore is the founder of EightStepStartup, a company that offers would-be entrepreneurs the guidance and advice they need to grow new business ventures. He decided to go down this route because he was fed up with the 60+ hour weeks he worked in the City of London. EightStepStartup offers 73 different lessons on starting up a business and you can also request a consultation with Moore.
He believes that the knowledge accumulated by himself and his partners will increase the chances of start-up success for others. You can follow Moore on Twitter @8StepStartup.
Get ahead of the curve …
If you’re working hard on the development of a start-up and need some extra capital or advice to provide you with a vital extra push, these are the men and women you need to follow. By following these influencers on Twitter, you can benefit from their experience and can also learn about important events or seminars dedicated to helping start-ups. There may be a lot of competition but there is plenty of room in London for talented entrepreneurs with killer business ideas. Get out there, start having conversations and see your business grow. We’re right behind you!