Fear, Hope, No Clarity in Brexit Startups Survey

Vote Leave campaigners in city street

The results are in from the first survey of UK startup's attitudes to Brexit. We could cherry-pick some statistics and tell you everything's going to be alright, or that everything's going to be terrible.

What we think the data says is that startup entrepreneurs are a resilient bunch, and tend to be optimistic. Nobody really knows for sure, but they want to do is carry on. 

The survey was conducted by Tech City UK, and should be taken as a guide to attitudes of the UK technology startup scene,  rather than UK startups in general or the economy as a whole.

1,205 people were surveyed between 27 June and 5 July, and sixty per cent of respondents were company founders or CEOs. Two-thirds of the respondents were British citizens. The companies were predominantly emerging startups with ten employees or fewer.

Almost three quarters - 74% - expect the business environment to get worse. But interestingly, less than a third - 31% said they were likely to slow down hiring. 36% are getting on with “business as usual”, and respondents' main worry is that they expect to find it harder to hire high calibre staff if the UK leaves the EU (51% said this.)

They’ll make it over the hump.

The survey reports widespread concerns about visas and freedom of movement. 85% hope the Government will negotiate to remain part of the European Single Market and 70% hoped that EU citizens would still be able to live and work in the UK. These, of course, are conditions that some who voted Leave would find abhorrent.

Tech startups' attitude to raising capital is notably more optimistic. 51% say they plan to raise capital outside the UK in the next year.

Tech City CEO Gerard Grech said he was optimistic:

"It’s these qualities of resilience, as well as risk-taking, that Britain’s tech stars will be drawing on now as they face perhaps one of the bigger bumps in the road yet. And I’m confident that they’ll make it over the hump."

While we take some comfort from that news, we can't see any data in the survey responses about exports, or whether companies' projections relied on access to export markets. This is an issue for companies wanting to raise money through alternative lending, but may be less of an issue in early-stage startups that are pre-revenue.

You can read more about the survey, including detailed results and an explanation of the methodology, on the Tech City UK website.

We ask our readers to remember this is a survey of early-stage technology startups, and the findings may not apply to other sections of the UK economy.