How a group of founders created the ‘unofficial guide’ to UK tech

Carly Minsky, July 19, 2021 2 min read

There are a whole host of reasons why so many tech entrepreneurs choose to start and scale their business in the UK. But you won’t read about most of these reasons in any ‘official’ information about the tech sector; they are just too subjective and personal.

Still, even business decisions are personal, particularly for someone embarking on a new venture in a new country or city. In the midst of a pandemic, it was more important than ever to capture and consolidate the type of guidance and insight a founder might share over coffee, like their experience of bootstrapping in the early days, or why London offered the right opportunities for their partner’s career too.

“It’s a thriving, pulsating environment which you won’t fully appreciate from afar – people pulling the trigger on their dreams” – Alex Chesterman, Cazoo CEO

This became our ‘unofficial guide’ to the UK tech community, directly from the mouths of tech leaders – founders, CEOs and high-profile investors – to your eyes. With no incentive other than their own enthusiasm to advocate for the tech community they’ve helped create, more than 30 people participated in interviews and roundtable discussions to answer just one simple question: ‘what do you like the most about the UK tech sector?’ 

“It’s easier to get your business off the ground and gaining height here than elsewhere. The UK de-risks the start-up and de-risks the scale up” – Ben Blume, partner at Atomico

From there, some people naturally focused on scaling opportunities like the attitudes among UK investors (less ‘cut-throat’ and more long-term than US counterparts), while others highlighted practical considerations, like the ability to cycle past all the major business, tech and recreational destinations in London within 30 minutes.

Venture capitalist at Accel, Sonali de Rycker, explained: “In the US, you have tech, Wall Street and Government thousands of miles and three time zones apart. Here, they are a twenty minute cab ride apart.”

Unconventionally informal and full of pithy comments, the resulting document represents the diversity and personality of these eclectic individuals and the tech sector more generally. And yet while their names – including Cazoo CEO Alex Chesterman, angel investor Sherry Coutu. former general partner at Entrepreneur First Joe White, Balderton Capital’s Suranga Chandratillake and Innovate Finance chair Natalie Ceeney – appear on the penultimate page, the story is told in a single voice throughout.

“You don’t just get the money – you get people who help you solve your problem, who will you to win. You also get very clear feedback if you’re idea is not going to work. “I’m not being rude but I’m just not seeing it.” It’s polite. And pointed.” – Sherry Coutu, angel investor

That’s no coincidence. The UK tech sector is full of remarkable individuals, but the story isn’t about a few heroes, as the report’s writer Richard Wilding explains. It’s about the opportunity for diverse, ambitious people and companies to grow and thrive on their own terms while feeling fully part of a ‘united’ UK tech community.