Tech entrepreneurs give their verdict on 'bonkers' Brexit
Fed-up, worried and angry. That was how a room full of technology firms described their feelings about Brexit.
The entrepreneurs took part in a roundtable of North West tech companies, sponsored by Silicon Valley Bank.
Culture Shift CEO Gemma McCall said the uncertainty over the UK’s departure from the EU was stopping people from spending money.
“I am worried because of the amount of talk in the news and across conversation, talking ourselves into being careful and not spending because we want to wait and see what's going to happen with Brexit,” she told BusinessCloud.
“I'm a bit worried that we're talking ourselves into a recession because of the constant conversation, although I'm not bored of the conversation because we need to talk about it to get the right outcome.”
Clockwise from top left: Richard Faulkner, managing director, technology banking, Silicon Valley Bank. Nicola Weedall, founder, Autopaid. Helen Fish, co-founder, Beatstream Media.
Helen Fish, co-founder of online music streaming site Beatstream said: “For the music industry it's going to be a huge problem. At the moment a band can go on a tour around Europe, it's not an issue. But with Brexit they're going to have to get working visas in every single country they go to, it's just going to have a bad effect on the music industry and grassroot industry.”
Anthony Young is the co-founder of competitive intelligence and market insight platform IQBlade. He agreed that while Brexit wouldn’t affect his business directly it could have an impact on his customers and staff.
He added: “It's not great from a resources point of view, we've had people from all over. It just becomes more complicated and adds another problem to any entrepreneur trying to get a business off the ground.”
Four members of the roundtable were fully against Brexit and said it was time to move the conversation on.
Nicola Weedall, CEO of Autopaid, said: “I'm an avid remainer. For me I'm sick to death of listening about the whole situation, I want it to be resolved, I want the country to get on with it now.
“I don't think it's going to affect my business, it may do when we come to scale and take over the world but right now that's not on the agenda.”
CEO Tim Langley of IT firm Canddi agreed: “I'm a massive remainer, I'm now fed up, and I wish it would just get on and happen. It's going to have zero impact on the way that we operate.”
James Mulvany, CEO of Radio.co and Podcast.co was also tired of Brexit taking over the news and how it could affect having talented employees across businesses.
“Sick of hearing of it - it's just dragged on and on,” was his honest assessment. “I've got plenty of people in Europe who work with me, skilled people have come and it would be a great shame to lose them or be a great shame to restrict hiring people in the future.
“It's been going on for far too long, I don't like turning the news on anymore to be honest.”
Dean Cookson, marketing director of Purple WiFi, said: “I think it's led to a standstill. While the country could be doing more to get more digital skills, because everybody knows how important it is, we've been chatting about the same thing for two years. Selfishly from a tech point of view, it's bonkers.”
Another concern for some of the roundtable members was the impact Brexit will have on recruitment, especially since many UK companies employ staff overseas.
Clockwise from left: Abdul Alim, CEO & founder, Bidooh. Dean Cookson, head of marketing, Purple Wi-Fi. Gemma McCall, co-founder and MD, Culture Shift
Commerical director of Hiring Hub Alex Belford said the pressure was on for recruitment to create suitable people for the sector.
“We've got unemployment at its lowest since 1975 so I don't just want to naively say it's business as usual but it does feel that we are just getting on with it,” he said.
“We need to be developing more talent that is fit for what the world is going to look like and that means reskilling and upskilling. I think if we embrace that it's business as usual.”
But it was far from all doom and gloom, as Bidooh CEO Abdul Alim agreed that the sector should use Brexit as an opportunity to develop our talent in the UK.
He said: “Personally I don't think it's an issue. I think we need to grow talent here, what Code Nation do is fantastic and we need more of that to grow here.
“I don't think Brexit will give us an issue. We see an opportunity and we can build on that opportunity.”