The best UK cities to scale a business

Our supporting founder Octopus Investments has identified some of the best places in the country to scale a business.

Its Urban Hub League Table 2016 is based on what the teams behind 22,470 High Growth Small Businesses thought were most important to them when building and growing their companies: finance, talent and connectivity.

As Philip Salter writes in Forbes this week:

“London’s dominance isn’t a shock, but Reading and Milton Keynes are (arguably) surprising additions to the top ten. And Scotland does itself credit with both Edinburgh and Glasgow making the top ten.

Read Philip’s analysis of the findings in full here.

The FFF interview: Debbie Wosskow, founder, Love Home Swap

In my latest Huffington Post column, I catch up with Love Home Swap founder and FFF member Debbie Wosskow about chutzpah, lie ins, and Hollywood romcoms.

Back in 2011, and inspired by mushy Christmas movie The Holiday, Wosskow founded a home-swap business that has now grown to over 100,000 members and 60 staff worldwide.

Equally as interesting as Wosskow’s entrepreneurial flair is her view on female entrepreneurship. “Women need a thick skin,” she tells me. “It’s easier for people to tell you all the things that are wrong with your business than all that are right.”

Read the interview in full here.

Cobra Beer founder Lord Bilimoria talks UK-India Business Relations

You would struggle to find a British statesman who can match the stateliness of Lord Bilimoria, Entrepreneurs Network director writes in his latest Forbes column.

The distinguished entrepreneur is not only founder of Cobra Beer, but also founding chairman of the UK-India Business Council, chancellor of the University of Birmingham and chairman of the advisory board at Cambridge Judge’s Business School.

Philip tapped his brain on Britain’s business relationship with India, and what the UK can learn from the way business is done in the former colony.

Read the interview in full here.

Small businesses needn’t fret about extended Sunday trading

In a column for the Huffington Post, I’ve asked whether small business outcry over changes to Sunday Trading Laws is justified. From Autumn 2016, prohibitions limiting large stores (with a floor space of over 3,000 sq ft) from opening on Sundays for more than six hours will be lifted – an announcement which has led to claims that this will only see more trade moving to larger stores at the expense of smaller shops.

Yet the evidence (research, polls and local borough reports), does not suggest that small businesses will suffer from their larger rivals opening for longer. A fifth of consumers have said they would do more shopping on a Sunday were the changes implemented, meaning more customers for everyone.

And rather than wishing the competition be banned from trading, small business owners – many of whom are disruptive by nature – should view this proposal as an opportunity to find new ways to innovate and outsmart their larger rivals.

Read the article in full here.

The FFF interview: Tamara Lohan MBE, founder, Mr and Mrs Smith

In the latest in a series of FFF interviews for the Huffington Post, I catch up with Tamara Lohan – one half of the duo behind Mr and Mrs Smith hotels.

Unlike many entrepreneurs, who sold lemonade at kindergarten and grew up wanting to be the next Bill Gates, Lohan took a more opportunistic approach to her career. It saw her launch an energy drink in Brazil, consult Ericsson and Swissair on their branding strategies and, at one point, run a dating agency.

In 2002, she co-founded Mr and Mrs Smith with her husband James. Since then, the business has grown into an award-winning booking service and worldwide travel club.

Read the interview in full here.

Accelerating growth: Three entrepreneurs share their experiences

For entrepreneurs considering applying to an accelerator programme, what better than to hear from founders who have been there, done that.

In his most recent Forbes column, Entrepreneurs Network director Philip Salter speaks to three entrepreneurs who’ve gone through Telefonica’s Wayra retail accelerator in London. Chris McCullogh (co-founder, RotaGeek), Imogen Wethered (co-founder, Qudini) and Ben Brown (founder, Shopwave).

McCullogh went through Wayra in 2014 and says the experience with helping him transform his business. Wethered credits Wayra with helping Qudini generate long-lasting relationship and a network that opened up new opportunities. For Brown, Wayra was not his first accelerator: he previously went through Seedcamp with VouChaCha, which he exited to Monetise.

Read the article in full here.

 

The FFF interview: Laura Tenison MBE, founder, JoJo Maman Bébé

For the first in a series of interviews with the inspirational members of our Female Founders Forum, I caught up with JoJo Maman Bébé founder Laura Tenison MBE.

Tenison may have the drive and tenacity typical of many entrepreneurs, but her business still remains in the unemployment-ridden dock town in South Wales where she grew up. She is on a mission to help regenerate local high streets, and for her, success goes hand-in-hand with social good. And she has little sympathy for those founders who think entrepreneurship should be easy.

“‘I worked three jobs when I started JoJo,’ she says. ‘I slept on the floor of my flat and rented out my bedroom. Entrepreneurship is hard. But I feel those entrepreneurs who are really challenged in the early years are those who achieve longevity. They’re the ones who know how to solve problems.'”

Read the article in full here.

Should entrepreneurs understand economics?

From Economic Value Added to stand up meetings, economist Anthony J Evans makes the case to our director, Philip Salter, for entrepreneurs getting a grasp on economics.

“We tend to think of economics as being a way to understand the economy, but it is really a way to understand markets. It is the basis upon which we understand hidden costs and what constitutes value in the minds of our customers.”

“So it helps us to make internal choices about the best use of our resources, but also the prices that are generated by market exchange provides valuable feedback on the wider industry,” the economist says.

Read Philip’s interview with Professor Evans in full on Forbes here.

SwiftKey’s big investor on the Microsoft sale

There’s more to SwiftKey’s sale to Microsoft than the decision by an ex-founder to cash in his stake in 2008 to purchase a bicycle. Octopus Ventures invested in SwiftKey from seed through to Series B. In his latest Forbes column, our director Philip Salter catches up with Jo Oliver, member of Octopus Ventures and a non-executive director at SwiftKey.

Read his interview in full here.

The enterprising founder making Britain the best place in the world for entrepreneurs

Britain has a few enterprising individuals who have helped the country become one of the best in the world to do business, writes Entrepreneurs Network director Philip Salter in his latest Forbes column.

“In an age of shallow celebrity, the likes of Lord Young, Sherry Coutu CBE, Lord Bilimoria, Michael Hayman MBE and Emma Jones stand out for their ethic of serving the public good. They have had – and continue to have – a tremendous impact on improving the policies, support and general climate for entrepreneurship in the UK.”

“Over the last decade, Jones has been a leading supporter of small businesses through her tireless work with Enterprise Nation. Towards the end of last year, she was made a UKTI business ambassador by the Prime Minister. I caught up with her to find out more about enterprise nation and her outlook for Britain’s entrepreneurs.”

Read Philip’s interview with Emma Jones here.