Building a bridge across the pond

Daren Fuchs

2015-08-26

So, you have the skills and you’re ready to grow both personally and commercially. Your backyard might not hold the answers. A bigger market will be your springboard to your goals. Maybe that place is London.

I recently visited the historical city for work. The context was straightforward — meet people, build relationships and uncover opportunities to create a ‘bridge’ between Cape Town and the UK.

Above doing the usual London summer tourist activities — including some sightseeing and riding the Boris bikes — I went to a bunch of London Technology Weekevents, worked from the Google Campus and Rise To offices, attended a members-only Supper Club evening and met a whole lot of interesting people.

My biggest takeouts from this trip were as follows:

  1. London energy — it’s amazing. Being a fast moving city with loads of people, it’s easy to connect and feel apart of the business world. It sure is an attractive place to visit as a business owner.
  2. People are willing to meet. I had over 20 meetings in 11 days, attended 5 networking events and grew my personal network in the UK.
  3. The Silicon Roundabout scene is small. Much like Cape Town, London is still trying to be a haven for tech entrepreneurs. So there are tons of meetups and even a Slack community one can join.
  4. The pool is large. Client side — you‘ll have a selection of startups, SMEs and multinationals, so opportunity to prove concept or scale is possible. Beware though, competition is rife. So you’ll have to break through the clutter while understanding the local scene.
  5. South African flair — we’re well-liked in that part of the world. Not only do most people know a Saffa in London, 75% of those I’d spoken with had been to Cape Town, would return and consider business trade between the two cities rather attractive.

london-bridge

Opportunities — they’re endless. As South African business owners, we should be taking advantage of what the UK can offer us and what we can offer those chaps. By growing our businesses up North, we can strengthen the South African economy.

We're consciously aiming to grow our client base in a strong economy like the UK. I hope other South African business are realising that significant growth can be sourced from abroad.

London has everything — and when it comes to business, it’s a machine for growth. Scale, diversity and energy are three things that will attract me to keep going back there to build my company.

Not only is it a phenomenal place to see with your own eyes, it can also be the seed for both personal and commercial growth.