Why the UK is the 'sweet spot' for tech start-ups

UK is 'sweet spot' for Truphone and tech start-ups
No sweeter place to be

When it comes to building an international tech business from the ground up there's no better place to start than in Britain.

TechRadar spoke to UK-based firm Truphone - a company you may not have heard of, but one which has a global reach - about how the UK offers a great platform for start-ups.

Truphone is a company that's trying to tackle the problems that limit global communication by using innovations, such as having multiple numbers connected to one SIM, to help businesses stay connected when they travel. It's a SIM-based service which reduces the cost, and tries to improve the simplicity, of international mobile roaming, at home or abroad.

The firm's co-founder James Tagg told us "the UK is easy to market in, people are early adopters and it's a big market."

"Both America and the Netherlands are early adopters, but the former is extremely difficult to market in because it's so enormous, and the latter has a pretty small market."

Truphone's UK Managing Director Rob Jones added: "the UK is a good sweet spot for us. If you look a people who do business internationally there's probably fewer who do it in the US, but in the UK people are always looking abroad."

Start me up

Tagg also explained that the UK, and London in particular, is seen as a great place for tech-centric start-ups to base themselves.

"There's a lot of start-up activity happening in London now. There are enough people now who have created start-ups once or twice in the UK that you can invite on your board and can tell you what the hell is going on.

"Maybe ten years ago you could name the handful of people who had done it."

Helping hand

As well as having a strong nucleus of tech-minds in country, not just in London but in other cities too such as Oxford and Cambridge, the British government also offers schemes to encourage start-ups to grow.

"The government offers the R&D tax credit system and that generates a lot of money.

"We on average probably get more than half a million pounds each year from the system, so that's a pretty good benefit," Tagg explained.

"Obviously the objective is that they get that back in spades later on, so they are making an investment, but that's good."

Invest in me

Of course any tech start-up is nothing without some money behind it and the investment game is something Truphone experienced during its early days, but money is slowly becoming easier to secure in the UK.

"There's a bit of a changing attitude in the UK about tech investing. I've been to many places around the world and historically in the Valley in the US there's a lot more orientation towards risk taking," Jones told us.

"I think the UK has always been a very innovative country - you see the IP that comes out of places like Cambridge and Oxford, it's staggering - but historically it hasn't had so much of a risk taking appetite.

"From what we're seeing, and what the market is seeing, there is more of an appetite to now take risks within the UK."

So what are you waiting for? That killer idea you've been saving for a rainy day - its time has come, so get your self to London town as it's apparently all kicking off.

John McCann
Global Managing Editor

John joined TechRadar over a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs from some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.