Customer acquisition viewed as biggest challenge by new tech businesses 

Finding or growing a sustainable customer base is identified as the biggest challenge facing UK-based tech start-ups today, research finds.

The start-ups surveyed also highlight other important contributors to their business growth, the top three being establishing the right product-market fit (54 per cent), having access to reliable and good public infrastructure such as pervasive connectivity (48 per cent) and finding suppliers (44 per cent).

The research, spearheaded by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), Singapore government technology arm, engaged 193 UK-based early stage tech start-ups, to better understand the business challenges they are currently facing, and what it takes for them to consider expanding their business overseas.

The start-ups surveyed include young UK tech businesses with less than five years of operations, with majority at the early stages of raising their seed, angel or Series A funding. To date, they have received, on average, £1.1 million in funding, and state that they need an average of £650,000 over the next 12 months to meet their business goals.

The majority of the founders surveyed have built high tech businesses that aim to tackle challenges in a diverse range of sectors from financial services, public/government services, education, transportation, to healthcare, using big data and analytics, mobility, and future communications and collaboration technologies.

On their global aspirations, the survey reveals that over half of the start-ups have an eye on international growth, 15 per cent having already expanded their business abroad, 17 per cent having plans to grow at least part of their business overseas and a further 19 per cent considering international expansion in the future.

The start-ups cite the ease of doing business (79 per cent), a strong public infrastructure (72 per cent) and policies and regulations that support innovation (70 per cent) as important factors when considering a potential city for expansion.

With technology and connectivity enabling aspiring entrepreneurs to expand their start-up business globally relatively quickly, the UK is becoming home to innovation-driven tech start-ups with aspirations to go global.

Steve Leonard, executive deputy chairman of IDA says, ‘The UK and Singapore are natural partners where it comes to building tech start-ups that have the potential to scale globally. Both countries are working to tackle important shared global challenges arising from the realities of increasing urban density and ageing populations that have an impact on areas such as healthcare, transportation and resources sustainability.’

Further reading on customer acquisition

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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