Guest post by Nikos Kalliagkopoulos, a Greek-origin financial analyst at Dutch Expansion Capital and investment manager at Startupbootcamp HighTechXL. You can catch up with Nikos on Twitter: @kalliagk
I must admit I might not be 100% objective on this, since I love London. I have visited the city multiple times, but every time I am there I find another great place. On 23rd and 24th of January I visited London again to attend the Startupbootcamp Summit. This was a 2-day event, organized by Startupbootcamp Global, inviting all Startupbootcamp programs and alumni to visit London, attend interesting presentations and workshops and meet on 1on1 speed dates with exciting brands and renowned investors. The top European VC funds like Accel Partners, Index Ventures etc. were there to meet and talk with Startupbootcamp alumni. I visited the summit, together with the rest of the Startupbootcamp HighTechXL team and some of our portfolio companies. All in all, it was a very interesting experience, a chance to see again
people from the Startupbootcamp family and an opportunity to meet new interesting people.
After visiting London for another time, I am almost convinced that it is the dream location for European startups, at least for those in the web/mobile space. Even more importantly, after spending some time with two Greek startupers currently living in London I am even more convinced that it makes a great sense for startups coming from the periphery of Europe that experience lately a startup ‘boom’ to spend some months there. The ten reasons are following.
Reason 1: It is the financial center of Europe. Most banks are there, and most importantly most Venture Capital funds are there. The big European VC funds, like Atomico, Index and Accel are there. But also the big corporate funds, like the Samsung Ventures, or Qualcom Ventures are there. Last but not least, London will always have plenty of the ‘next round’ investors, either that is Round A, Round B, or even a buyout fund.
Reason 2: More events targeting startups are taking place in London. Although every city has its local meetups, I don’t believe these can easily be compared with the quantity and quality of the meetings and startup events taking place in London.
Reason 3: You can find more experienced entrepreneurs there. Either locals or internationals that moved to London, created their company and maybe sold it. I don’t know if the entrepreneurs attracted the VCs or if the VCs attracted the entrepreneurs (this discussion can go like the chicken and the egg argument) but in any case the place is full of (successful and least successful) entrepreneurs.
Reason 4: There are more startupers. Really, there are so many! And although this means that more people are competing for getting financed from the same investors, it also is a great opportunity to learn from other people, exchange ideas and expand your team!
Reason 5: People that matter are close by. Although Brussels is the capital of Europe, I think that London is the center of it. There you find most people that matter in the tech scene, and you can just approach them. To give you an example, during the first day of the Startupbootcamp Summit, Mike Butcher, European editor at TechCrunch gave a presentation at Rainmaking Loft, the place hosting the summit. He stayed there for the whole day, and you could see people continuously talking to him.
Reason 6: In general and summing up all of the above the ecosystem is more developed. All the above make everyone, even big corporate executives more receptive into accepting the new ‘startup reality’. Therefore the opportunity to expand your network and create new business deals is enormous.
Reason 7: The Language! Everybody speaks English. It makes it easy to socialize, it makes it easy to understand everyone, it also makes it easy to apprehend the local culture. It goes without saying how important this is into knowing your customers.
Reason 8: Makes the step to the US easier. The language barriers are eliminated and the culture is the closest you can get in Europe to the US. Furthermore the connections from the local network to the US are enormous.
Reason 9: It is a huge diverse city. If something works there, chance is with you that it will probably work everywhere. __ million of people live and work there, therefore you have a huge potential target market.
Reason 10: British regulation is a lot more business friendly than other countries. Many VCs, although they might not be British, might push you to setup a British Limited Liability Company.
But let’s also be fair. There is one reason that London is a nightmare for a startup. And this is the cost of living. Voted as the most expensive city in the world, London will make your cash out sky-rocket, effectively killing your burn rate and shortening your runway.
All in all, I think this is a city that every startup should at least consider to relocate. Even if it is just for a few months, it can help you expand your network and find your next investor. Especially important for European/regional startups, that should get out of their comfort zone and internationalise. I am not saying this is the only place to go. For really High Tech companies I would still argue for Eindhoven, since it is the most inventive city in the world. And for web and mobile startups, Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris are also well known hubs, but I still would go for London. Why? Well, except from all the above reasons, as I said in the beginning of the article, I am not 100% objective on this; London is just a place you fall in love with..