Shock and sadness as TechHub enters administration

Posted on August 3, 2020 by Chris Maguire

TechHub

TechHub

TechHub, the self-styled global community for tech entrepreneurs and startups, has gone into administration.

The organisation, which opened its first community space in London’s Silicon Roundabout in 2010, lost as much as 75 per cent of its income as a result of Covid-19.

Founder and CEO Elizabeth Varley broke the news on Twitter over the weekend.

She wrote: “It is with huge hurt and sadness that I am announcing today that TechHub has been forced to go into administration. Unfortunately, with a significant reduction in revenue due to the impact of Covid on our member companies, and without an agreement from our major landlord to our proposals for a way forward, we are unable to continue.”

TechHub’s administrator Paul Stanley, regional managing partner at Begbies Traynor, said: “I was brought in by the TechHub directors to advise them during this difficult period, and felt their rescue plan was very viable. TechHub’s customer levels were almost at full capacity just before lockdown was enacted by the government, and the company is only in this position because of the Covid situation. The funders, advisors, directors and employees were happy with the rescue plan, and I’m very surprised that the landlord as major creditor wasn’t even prepared to engage with the company about it.”

Despite the administration Varley said she was hugely proud of what TechHub had achieved over the last decade.

“We were the first initiative on the roundabout, and we’ve stayed true to our original mission: bringing together the tech industry, and supporting founders and companies to grow and succeed,” she wrote in an emotional blog. “We’ve been the first London home for so many international founders, with over 60 nationalities represented in the TechHub membership.

“At TechHub we’ve run over 200 pieces of programming each year that are TechHub events with 3,000 over the decade including events hosted for others.These include flagship TechHub events like TechHubTuesday Demo Night, Startup Funeral, and our Fireside Chat series. Demoers have included Callsign (raised $35m Series A), Aiden.AI (Acquired by Twitter), Plaid (European Unicorn), Divide (acquired by Google).

“In just the last year, we arranged one-to-one meetings with 402 investors for our member founders helping them to raise seed rounds. Covid didn’t stop our programme as that included 157 founder meetings with investors during lockdown. Our 2020 focus on achieving more equality meant that 51 per cent of our hosted investors, and 31 per cent of the founders are women and people of colour.

“We’ve directly supported 5,000 startups as members, and had over 150,000 tech industry folks through our doors over the last decade. We’ve been home to notable members FreeUp (acquired by Greensill), Divide (acquired by Google), Bloomsbury AI (acquired by Facebook), JukeDeck (acquired by TikTok), Yammer (acquired by Microsoft), Nexmo (acquired by Vonage), Wercker (acquired by Oracle), EyeTease, Callsign, SwiftKey, and Babylon Health.

“FundApps and Seedrs were two of our very, very first companies. Benivo was our longest-serving member from 2012 to just this month. Oh, and Stephen Fry was a member in our first year.

“We became home to vital ecosystem initiatives including Raspberry Pi Foundation, Code Club, Apps for Good, Founders4Schools, and Coadec.

“We played an integral part in the formation and running of Google Campus in London and proudly launched TechHub Warsaw and TechHub Madrid in those campuses. We have been so fortunate to be part of the Google for Startups community of the world’s best incubators and startup initiatives. It’s been a privilege to learn from and support you.

“We’re so incredibly proud of the work done by the founders and teams of TechHub Riga, TechHub Bucharest and TechHub Swansea. They’ve done incredible work to catalyse the tech industry in their cities and built on the work we started back in 2009. Please support them in what’s a difficult time for everyone in the tech community, we want to ensure they carry on the TechHub torch.

“Our members have been some of the most innovative, fun, hard-working people we’ve had the pleasure to know. We’ve been so proud to be a small part of our journey, and thank you, thank, thank you for making TechHub the unique place it has been.”

Varley said Saturday’s announcement represented the end of an 11-year journey.

“I began my TechHub journey 11 years ago in May 2009 which has made today’s situation even more difficult,” she wrote.

“We have spent the last four months engaging directly with the government, City Hall, our lenders, landlords and the local council to find a solution which would enable us to continue. We are hugely grateful to our board advisors who’ve shown us unstinting support through this incredibly difficult and sad time.

“Our mission has been to help London’s ecosystem get better, faster and this is something that I truly believe we have done. Thanks to everyone who’s been part of our story, it’s been wonderful.”

The announcement was prompted an an outpouring of support and shock on social media.

Elizabeth Clark, co-founder and CEO at North West-based Dream AI, wrote: “Heartbreaking to see that Tech Hub in London has gone into administration. The UK isn’t overburdened with these kind of services. 10 years of startup scale-up expertise snuffed out. Now that everyone is working remotely is there more of a case to have these services hosted differently/elsewhere? It’s cheap in Silicon Rammy. Holding my breath and hoping we’re not going to see more go.”

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