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Why Tech Startups Should Focus on Innovation to Weather Brexit

It is important for tech entrepreneurs to pay attention to global movements, issues, laws, and changes in the ecosystem. So, it is no wonder that many entrepreneurs are worried about Brexit and for good reason.

As of now, no one can really tell how the UK’s departure from the EU will concretely affect businesses. Tech has been a notoriously fierce environment that, even without Brexit, startups face numerous challenges in terms of growth, profitability, and sustainability.

While there are arguments saying that tech would be affected less by Brexit compared to industries that rely on cross-border trade of physical goods, the UK tech industry has its own share of concerns. East London has already made a stake of being Europe’s Silicon Valley, and it had no problems attracting businesses and talent from across the continent until now.

Unlike other sectors, tech has mainly been reliant on talent. However, with post-Brexit immigration policies still unclear, uncertainty now looms over many of the cosmopolitan talents that have made Tech City their home. Attracting new talent from abroad would now be more complicated if not impossible as the government still has to define the exit plan.

A number of tech firms have already considered relocating elsewhere after the vote. The flow of investments has also been quite shaky as of late. VC investments in financial technology dropped 33.7 percent in the UK, despite being up everywhere else. But should this concern serve as a moratorium for tech startups?

Rather than be stymied by fears, startups should reframe this as an opportunity. Whether there is Brexit or not, tech firms should be striving for innovation. Regardless of whether or not the UK is part of the EU, disruptive innovation can propel any startup to success.

This is why it is critical to revisit the fundamentals of what can make a startup great.


Provide a valuable product or service.

Go back to the core principles of marketing. Is there a need you can serve? Or another way to put this: Is there a problem you can solve?

Or perhaps a more benevolent framing could be: Could you change the world for the better? No matter how you choose to frame it, your product or service should be providing something of value to someone.

Offer a fresh and unique solution.

Startups have a tendency to run with the pack. Being abreast with trends does not necessarily mean that you need to jump on bandwagons.

Take the mobile application scene. Search for a keyword and you will find scores of apps trying to perform the same function that it is tough for any of them to truly stand out. Study your audience and you may find something new to offer them.

Deliver effortless experience.

User experience is at the core of design these days. The shift to mobile created new challenges in making people interact with tech. The less effort for them to accomplish a task, the better. Optimise your product for performance, as well. Leverage the use of cloud technology to deliver content and resources faster to cater to people’s demand for responsiveness and speed.

Promise privacy and security, and deliver.

With cyber security becoming a growing concern for both individuals and enterprises, make the effort to protect customer data. This means providing high-grade encryption across all connections. You can also enhance customer trust with a Grade A+ SSL certificate, which can ensure better protection against attacks like Heartbleed and POODLE vulnerabilities, which endangered applications and customer data across the globe.

Ship a stable and usable product.  

An idea, even a unique one, is not worth much unless you can actually create the product. Avoid jamming the product with too many features, so that you do not keep pushing ship dates because of too many features.

Focus on the ones that are essential to solving the need, and concentrate on doing those tasks well. It is easier for startups to be agile compared to your larger competitors. Embrace that. Involve your customers early. Test and adjust. Do not be afraid to iterate.

Work towards sustainability.

Another pitfall for a number of ventures is starting with the end goal of selling out or getting VC funding. Have a business model. You have to figure out how you will make your money. Google did not become Google because of search alone.

Their success was being able to monetize search through ads. Mind your cash flow. The shift to subscription models means that you can have access to scalable infrastructure without having to make large investments upfront to build your infrastructure.

Change the game.

Too often, tech ventures get caught up in the adversarial mindset of trying to beat the big players like Google, Apple, and Microsoft. Is there something that these big guys are not doing? Look for those angles and opportunities and you might be able to change the game.

Brexit may have shaken the tech sector in the UK, but what is critical for startups is to remain calm. It is tough to innovate when worrying about these things.

As some of the big players may have to undergo transitions, startups that are not affected should take the opportunity to focus on innovation and strike first towards building that next disruptive technology.