Startup Britain is starting up

This week saw the launch of  the UK government backed StartUp Britain, ‘a new campaign by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs’ which aims to ‘celebrate, inspire and accelerate enterprise in the UK’.  Obviously my ears pricked up and I went for a nosey round the website.  First impressions and the website looks good – clean and easy to navigate – although I can do without seeing David’s Cameron’s face every time I go on the site thank you very much.

My initial impressions: unfortunately, I didn’t find anything there that I didn’t know already, and pretty much all of the links I clicked on took me away from the site and to the websites of associated companies offering various deals and discounts to those starting up their own business.  This was not what I was expecting.  Deals and discounts I don’t actually want or need right now.  Although some of the links may be useful at some point in the future (e.g. events, awards), the website states that ‘your questions about starting up, answered right here’.  They aren’t – they are answered elsewhere on already existing websites such as BusinessLink for example.  It left me with wondering what’s the point in this site?  What is it?  And how will it help me?  Particularly as the website has little content (or none of its own) and some sections provide links to very little.  For example, the section on knowing your market gives links to five different online survey tools and nothing else….so is all I need to do is an online survey and that’s that?

Anyhow, I started following the hashtag on twitter #startupbritain to find out a bit more, and it seems that the majority of the tweets were not very complimentary (that’s putting it politely!).   This lead me to a few blog posts reviewing StartUp Britain –  this one on Postdesk ‘Why #startupbritain is nothing more than a government backed link farm’ clarified for me why those with a good word to say about Startup Britain are in the minority.  This one from Tech Europe StartUp Britain Is About More Than Web Design and Special Offers‘ clarified the wider picture; the wider aim to create a spirit of entrepreneurialism and boost to the economy.  Startup Britain – A step in the right direction then.

I’m not a business expert by any means but it looks as though Startup Britain potentially launched too soon and too loudly. The website isn’t ready – there’s no where near enough content and relevant information to meet the (great) expectations of those visiting the site, and whoever is editing the website seems to be having trouble spelling entrepreneur!  I would also hazard a guess that tieing themselves so closely to the current government has not been their best strategic move and has resulted in more criticism than deserved.  Such close association blurs the boundaries and makes the who, what, and why of Startup Britain very confusing.

Initially I was under the impression that Startup Britain was a government initiative due to David Cameron being all over the launch campaign.  Only a closer look at the website and their tweets reveals that it isn’t and it’s a not-for-profit organisation.  Therefore surely we should give Startup Britain a chance to ‘start up’.  A first port of call website of useful resources can only be a good thing right? Although as they are a startup, I’d be interested to know how useful all the links have been for them throughout the process!

Startup Britain tweeted yesterday evening (29th March 2011) “Sorry we’ve been quiet today -we’ve taken on board the comments/feedback & will be sharing our thoughts on next steps soon #startupbritain‘ and that’s exactly what they should do.  Someone told me recently there are two rules of business – 1.  give the customer what they want and 2.  give the customer what they want.  I don’t need links to a load of sites (a few will do), I need ‘proper’ help from ‘proper’ business people.   After all, a good few of the big names and faces of British entrepreneurship are on board – perhaps Startup Britain should make better use of them?

I’d be really interested to hear others thoughts on Startup Britain, and what startup’s need.

P.S. The tide seems to be changing a little today.  More positive comments are coming through on my twitter feed!  Also companies offering deals and discounts for a range of different services – as long as they are useful and relevant resources, that’s the spirit!

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3 responses to “Startup Britain is starting up

  1. Great post Jenna.
    Really spot on and full of constructive feedback.

    Indeed, I had a look at the website and it does not make me stay there for long. One thing that kind of ‘annoys’ me about how some people are *exploiting* the web today is the fact that they think they can just aggregate content from other sources. All find and dandy – I can even see the benefit… sharing stuff others might not come across… but creating a database of links is not going to help me.

    Yet this is becoming a fashion! I often look for – and rarely find – a website that provides relevant information by creating their own content or part of it. Linking to complementary resources is important, but if that’s all you have got to offer that ain’t much. I fail to see the originality and the value as I get lost in the abundance of links .

    In short, I don’t think this site is addressing me but rather trying to sell those who are already well established entrepreneurs

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  2. The blurry “who, what and why” you mentioned really interests me. One could put the airbrushed David Cameron Photoshop extravaganza down to naiveness but a few seconds on the site proves otherwise. I suspect it’s some Tory chums in the business of ‘entrepreneurship’ that have whacked up StartUp Britain on the (back-handish) request of the Conservative Party. Afterall, it would be too obvious a contradiction of the Tories to promote ‘Big Society’/stateless-society on a government website developed by a state-funded organisation.

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  3. Hi both, sorry for late reply on this one!

    I hear what both of you are saying. I’m more in favour of websites that enable interaction. I want to write a comment on something on that site and I can’t…I think things need to involve two way communications always these days.

    They are getting more offers from more companies for better deals for startups but are they deals you need? Still not sure its for the good of the individual at the start line. I think they should allow people to comment on the deals and feedback whether they have used them and whether they were useful.

    I think companies need to be careful of ‘celebrity’ endorsement (inverted comma’s as not sure where Cameron fits on this one) – it’s not always the best way forward. Look at Wayne Rooney: dropped by coke, and dropped by Sky TV for Street Striker this week for swearing. Maybe these companies should be more careful who they aline themselves with in the first place.

    JC

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