Q&A: Leicester Startups

This blog is part of our Tech In Review: 21-22 report series. Head to the hub to access the reports, insight and analysis.

What is your mission as a start-up community? 

Leicester Startups CIC is a non-profit, entrepreneur led organisation with a proven track record of nurturing homegrown innovative, scalable startups. We specialise in organising peer-support activities for business founders with a “give first” ethos. We are supported by our public sector partners the Leicester and Leicestershire Enteprise Partnership (LLEP) University of Leicester, De Montfort University and Leicester City Council.

 What have been the main challenges start-ups in your community have faced in 2021?

Access to finance is always a big issue for our early-stage start-ups, which might seem unusual give how much capital has been invested in the market this year. But for many founders knowing when to tap into finance, structuring deals and what type of finance suits them is often a barrier to growth.

Second, we still see start-ups struggle with testing and experimenting around their business model. Getting valuable market feedback into their proposed business model is a tough and uncomfortable step.

Finally, finding co-founders, particularly with technical skills.

What have been the main highlights and positives of the year?

We’ve run our accelerator programme three times this year which is fantastic. On top of that we’ve also had hugely successful pitch nights. Not only do these showcase what our region has to offer in terms of tech innovation, but we’re also able to inspire new founders and get those with ideas started on their journey.

 How has the UK’s technology sector developed in the past year? What have been the emerging trends facing founders in your community?

We’re lucky to have two fantastic universities in our city, but retaining graduates here can still be a challenge. Despite the pandemic London still holds a draw for many, and those who don’t want to head there will often return home instead. That’s a big part of our mission as an ecosystem – giving them the resources to build businesses here.

From a trends perspective, we’ve seen a lot of start-ups focussing on supporting local retailers. With plenty of different approaches – loyalty schemes, coins/token based and open banking.

What’s the big challenge for UK tech in 2022, how well prepared is the country to handle these challenges?

Basic proficiency at programming or using low code/no code is going to be a long-term block. That’s why we see so many ideas failing to take off, because people don’t have the right technical co-founders or the skills to build an MVP themselves.

What does next year hold for you as a startup community?

A lot of the same! We’re focussing on consolidating the work we’re doing. Aside from that, we might have some interesting news around an investment vehicle…

Community Profile

Company: Leicester Startups

Status: Non-profit 

HQ Location: Leicester, UK

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