I have to say it’s a pleasure to be able to offer some sharp relief to the gloomy economic fog that still seems to shroud much of Europe and the UK.
It’s been six months since I joined Xero to head up our commercial operations. In 2012 our UK team tripled in size and we still have positions that we are recruiting for. Amid that it’s been fantastic to spend the last six months focusing on nothing but growth, both in terms of new customer acquisition, growing our UK operations and staff numbers*.
I have seen an entirely different side of UK business to the one that has been on the news, that of a flourishing and vibrant start-up and small business community. In the last year alone 497,184 new UK companies where formed, in fact the number of UK company formations has grown by 10% for the last three years straight.
So, even though banks are not lending, good old British entrepreneurs are still finding ways to get funding and start trading, which I think is really positive for the UK economy as a whole.
The tech sector in the UK is particularly strong with the internet economy alone contributing 8.3% of UK GDP which is forecast to rise to 12.4% by 2016.
London is also fast becoming the technology capital of Europe with a growing number of the UK’s tech talent now having the confidence to break out and build their own companies. A couple of weeks ago at Google’s campus in London I had the pleasure of bumping in to two such entrepreneurs and was delighted to find out that both were already Xero customers. It was awesome to hear first hand how Xero was helping them to successfully run their own startups.
And during a particularly busy couple of weeks in February, we ran 22 workshops in different locations and had over 1,000 delegates attend our online and physical events. Being at the events also gave me the opportunity to speak to many of our partners and find our how they were finding business, and the response from them was also positive – their businesses are growing, too.
We have just moved our sales and enablement team out of the old office in Milton Keynes and in to a new space where we’ve doubled the number of desks. No two days at Xero are the same and it’s a pleasure to be involved in a team that has so much energy, passion and talent.
So, yes there are still some chunky structural economic challenges to overcome over here in the Old World, but if you zoom in a little to what’s happening on the street, you’ll be in for a very pleasant and up-beat surprise.