Attended the 26th Business Startup Exhibition at Earl’s Court, today. This is one of the UK’s leading business startup events and includes over 140 seminars, more than 200 exhibitors and opportunities for advice and networking for those building a new business. The exhibition hall at Earls Court Two was packed with exhibitors representing many different providers to help get a business off the ground such as marketing firms, accounting and bookkeeping solutions, website and ecommerce providers, alongside many different seminar strands covering a range of topics including intellectual property, business finance, social media, women in business and online retail.
While the current economic climate may not be ideal, there are opportunities for SMEs right now in the UK. Small and medium sized enterprises are integral to the economy and account for nearly half of all revenue generated by the UK private sector. In light of the Government policies which aim for UK private sector growth to generate tax revenues to help reduce the national debt and job creation to compensate for a shrinking public sector, there is a clear need to support new and existing SMEs. The Government has released £95 million in funding for SMEs to help to stimulate the economy, which may be welcome news for those seeking finance for their endeavour, though a business will need to qualify for a commercial loan before having access to these monies.
The 26th Business Startup Exhibition was full of vibrant young people interested in entrepreneurship, service and product providers focussed on supporting the work of small and medium sized businesses and professionals not content to be ground down by gloomy economic forecasts. Yes, there are some serious challenges, especially around finance, facing SMEs in Britain today, but equally there are many paths to increasing business revenue with a modest outlay, especially growing your business through online channels.
We most enjoyed Joe White’s talk on ecommerce solutions. Joe, CFO/COO and co-founder of Moonfruit, a design-led website builder solution, presented a really interesting take on online brand building and the evolution of his own business. We loved what Joe had to say and as fellow web technologists and husband-and-wife SME team, we felt inspired and just a bit of kinship with the Moonfruit founder. It was clear from Joe’s talk that Moonfruit really ‘gets’ the current state of the web and they’ve taken a completely different tack on ecommerce; they are all about facilitating multi-channel selling. This approach fundamentally understands the state of Internet communications, it is about many devices, it is about many online venues and it is about social. Out of the box, Moonfruit shops are:
- optimised for mobile devices
- easily integrated into ebay, Amazon and Facebook portals
- lightweight and quick to set up
While Moonfruit systems may not be as full-featured as more traditional ecommerce systems nor offer the fine-grained customisation controls of conventional systems, they are forward-thinking, rapidly developing and offer a range of contemporary templates for customisation. This could be the system for a newer business to start on, prove the concept of their business and port away to a more full-featured system as the business matures.
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