There are no two ways about it; the past year has been hard. Economies grounded to a halt, bars, restaurants, festivals and clubs closed and we were all sent home. Almost overnight life was narrowed to Zoom calls and daily walks. We all stuck it out, put our heads down and kept on going.
With the 17th May fast approaching and the vaccination rollout picking up speed, I’m looking forward to grabbing a [insert food item and drink] inside with friends after so long (although we must give a nod to al fresco dining which has put up a good fight against the May elements!)
But while the past year has been filled with daydreams of more ‘normal’ times, but it has also seen huge growth and productivity. No group has been as ambitious as our entrepreneurs. At Edge, we’ve seen this first-hand. As we emerge post pandemic, let’s raise a glass to our homegrown startups.
The post-pandemic entrepreneur has spent the last year working from home. Unable to commute or socialise, there was now valuable time for those used to juggling demanding jobs and personal lives to start building a company. With more time to think, entrepreneurs could finally get started on the business idea they’d been discussing over the dinner table or mulling over on the morning commute for years. Remote working also shifted the dynamic between many employees and employers, with the distance between home and the workplace weakening the sense of company loyalty and emboldening entrepreneurs to finally take the leap and pursue their own projects.
Many would-be entrepreneurs have been working in office jobs, lucky enough to be shielded from the immediate impact of COVID-related closures. Technology companies have also thrived over the past year with many employees benefitting. The result? Budding entrepreneurs have had a year of income with not too much to spend it on. For many this has formed an initial investment or provided a reassuring cushion as they start to ramp up plans.
So, entrepreneurs have had more time, but has it really been the right time to start a business? Perhaps counterintuitively, the pandemic created ideal conditions for entrepreneurs to invest in their ideas. UK business incorporations were up 30% at the end of 2020 compared to the year before. We’ve already seen a number of these post-pandemic entrepreneurs come through our doors. A recent report from Tech Nation also found that the UK tech startup and scaleup ecosystem is valued at $585bn, which is 120% more than in 2017. The conditions are right; the City of London’s Recovery Taskforce recently outlined its action plan to engender the growth and development of high-growth innovative and creative businesses. As hospitality and the creative sectors look ahead to the roaring twenties 2.0, I’m confident they will be a driving force in rebuilding our economy.
With historically low interest rates, the borrowing environment is also on the side of the entrepreneur. When they’re ready, investors are hungry for disruptive startups shaking up the status quo and innovating hard. The UK is leading the charge. Our tech sector enjoyed investment of almost $8bn in the first few months of 2021, breaking previous records. To entrepreneurs I say, if not now, when? At Edge, we’re ready to invest in exceptional creative teams & the best emerging technologies. We’ve got a good feeling we might be about to see some of the best yet. Entrepreneurs are alive and kicking; long live the startup.