The Business Growth Hub joined forces with tech magazine Business Cloud to host our first business lunch of the year discussing the future of Manchester’s tech scene at UK Fast HQ.
Presented by Business Cloud UK editor Chris Maguire the lunch event showcased some of the finest local entrepreneurial talent in the sector, whilst providing opportunities for the region’s business owners and entrepreneurs to network.
Manchester’s digital and tech industry is estimated to be worth £3.1bn to the economy.
But although the city’s revolution began roughly a decade ago it has been in the last five years specifically that the city has received recognition in the UK and abroad, with experts predicting that Manchester will soon become the country's top digital tech hub.
Manchester’s growing ecosystem of scale-ups, co-working spaces, investors, business angels and business growth accelerators make it an attractive proposition for entrepreneurs and professionals alike.
Guest panellists discussed their own business journeys, why they chose to base their businesses in the North West, and future growth aspirations – each have already experienced huge business growth in a short space of time.
However a challenge they all shared, particularly at the start of their business journeys, has been finding funding which, interestingly, they perceive to be down to the conservatism of UK investors who can be less inclined to invest in unproven tech in contrast to those outside of the UK.
Cesar Pereira, founder of Gama Consumer, sourced funding for his FMCG insights platform in Sweden, Switzerland and Angola amongst other places, adding that “the main challenge has been funding in the UK. We’re looking for a further £1m this year.”
Apparent in all of the insights shared by the panellists was that drive and a firm belief in the potential of their product was the key to their success.
It’s the view of Louis-James Davies, CEO of VST Enterprises, that making the right connections and collaborating with peers is an absolute must for any start-up business looking to grow, adding “get out there and network. Don’t be afraid to talk to anybody.”
Three of the four-strong panel studied in Manchester, which led to discussion about the importance of the universities to Greater Manchester’s economy.
For Andrew Ko, Co-founder and CEO of Personalyze, who undertook PhD research at the University of Manchester, it’s something that can’t be underestimated, adding “it’s vitally important that the entrepreneurial community keeps those ties between the academic and business community.”
Katie Peate, head of digital, creative and tech at the Hub, was last to take to the stage and discussed how Manchester’s digital and tech scene is confronting some of the issues discussed, citing Greater Connected as an example of “initiatives which will rapidly increase the levels of growth within the creative, digital and tech sectors in Greater Manchester, and create thousands of new jobs as a result.”
All technology start-ups need to overcome a number of risks and challenges if they are to be successful, including finance, finding the right team and creating awareness of a new product in a very competitive market.
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