Ups and Downs of The Northern Scene
bird / 15th June 2018
Following the series of successful Fintech North events in Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool, organized by rebuildingsociety.com and others, we posed a couple of questions to our contributor network, asking what the greatest opportunities for the tech and fintech ecosystems are in the North. And to keep the scale straight, what the most significant limitations are. Here’s what Oliver Woolley from Envestors had to say, analysis and light banter provided by Bird Lovegod.
Oliver Woolley CEO and CoFounder of Envestors Private Investor Network
What are the Norths greatest opportunities Oliver?
The South is saturated in deals and it is easy for entrepreneurs seeking equity investment to get lost in the fog of hundreds of pitching events. If a company in the North is seeking investment from private investors, it more likely to raise funds from local business angels and VCs. The greatest opportunity is to improve further the connectivity between the networks and funds in the North.
Bird Analysis: Ahh interesting. The London tech scene is indeed flooded with opportunities, and this in itself can become a weakness if the density of them becomes a fog, as Oliver suggests. Two things tech founders can’t raise more of are time and focus, and both can be diluted if not managed with a certain experience-based discernment. Whereas here in the North, the scarcity of funding could actually be seen more as a scarcity of information regarding availability of funding. The money is here. But where? A single point of access for Northern funding sources should be available, and the process facilitated as a service. Is that you, Tech North? (Does that even exist still?) Alternatively an ambitious commercial funding platform could aim to singlehandedly dominate the Northern funding ecosystem in a way that none is able to do in London. If a company positioned itself as the single go to place to access all funding, including grants and all that public sector hassle, as well as loans, and angel investment, right up to series A and beyond, they’d have a decent chance of becoming central to the ‘startup – scaleup’ ecosystem in the North. The difficulty is getting known, but actually, that’s just a marketing exercise, they’d have to stand out from the existing solutions and just state they’re the ‘One stop get your business funded shop’ … see I’ve done half the work already. How hard can it be? It just needs doing properly big or not at all. That’s definitely an advantage of the North. It’s small enough, and undeveloped enough, to be fully impactable. It’s like when I was a street artist. With time and effort it’s possible to ‘King’ a city like Sheffield, but no one street artist could ever King London. Not even proper graff crews manage to get that kind of Up. I digress.
And go on, Oliver, don’t be shy. What are the Norths most significant limitations?
“Don’t believe it all happens in the South: the North has a huge amount to offer. The people are more friendly, open and honest; and that’s coming from a Southerner!”
You may have a point there Oliver. A recent report showed cannibalism has increased by 17% in London this year alone. Sad.