Manchester was the birthplace of the industrial revolution, the home of the first stored program computer and, fittingly, is now the largest emerging fintech hub outside of London.
Manchester is a city that dares to be different and exists to push boundaries, making it the perfect place to nurture new and disruptive Fintech companies. That’s what drew us here and that’s why we’ve made ourselves at home, but the process wasn’t without its difficulties.
I wanted to share my experience of starting and building DueCourse in the city and the impact it's had on the business.
Access to capital was definitely the biggest issue we faced when setting up in Manchester, as the majority of the capital in the UK resides in London. It’s a commitment to a lot of train journeys, but meeting with your potential investors face to face and building personable relationships stands you in much better stead to get access to the capital you need.
Distance from banks was another problem we initially faced when setting up, as startups do need their support whether we like it or not. Predictably, most bank HQs are located in London, so although an inconvenience, again it’s only two hours away by train.
Finding fintech talent is also difficult outside of the capital. We found that most of the experienced executive talent was concentrated in London, which makes sense as this is where the largest and original fintech scene has always been historically.
Getting the best people to join our team was a challenge for this reason, but we invested in a talent director to help us seek out and meet the best talent in the industry, which eventually led to former London-based Apple engineer, Dylan Smith, joining us as our new technical architect.
Thankfully, the benefits of setting up in Manchester far outweighed the challenges...
There’s not a huge amount of competition in Manchester when compared with the now saturated market in London. While the city’s fintech industry is growing rapidly, we set up in the earlier days when competition was low, which helped us establish ourselves as a leader and attract the best talent from the region and further afield. We’re solving a tough cashflow problem with a really innovative solution, so this helps us stand out in this still relatively young fintech environment.
The startup ecosystem isn’t on the same level in Manchester as it is in London or Silicon Valley, easing the pressure on new business startups like ours and allowing us to knuckle down and focus on building a real business that addresses real problems. It’s far too easy to get caught up in the startup hype, which can afflict businesses setting up in these bigger regions.
The cost of operating in Manchester is also far lower than it is in London, especially when it comes to renting premises, staffing and insurance. Office space rent per square foot can cost double or even triple in London when compared with Manchester, making it a total no-brainer for a cash-strapped startup. Standard of living for employees is also much higher in Manchester for the same level of earnings as in London, making it much easier to attract the kind of talent we need for new positions.
Setting up in Manchester was one of the best decisions we ever made, and we’re really proud to be part of this city’s emergence as the biggest fintech hub outside of the capital.
I am the CEO and co-founder of DueCourse, a cloud-based invoice financing service for SMEs. We help small businesses keep on top of their cash flow by allowing them to unlock capital from unpaid invoices, meaning they can concentrate on growing the business.
I am very passionate about helping other start-ups and SMEs get off the ground, and I want to share as much of my knowledge as I possibly can to encourage the next wave of entrepreneurs to make that big step into the market.