The last seven days have seen the iPhone developer launch a new initiative to attract startups, a London fintech firm raise £115m and UK SMEs consider forming a relationship with Asia
Angela Ahrendt speaking at the inaugural Apple Special event on Tuesday
Apple launches new town squares to attract startups
From announcing three new iPhone models to teasing the Apple Watch Series 3, the inaugural Apple Special Event at the Steve Jobs Theater was packed with new gadgets for tech aficionados to drool over. However, it was when Angela Ahrendt, senior vice president of retail at Apple, took to the stage that the tech behemoth unveiled its plan to create a loyal community of startups.
Ahrendt revealed that some Apple stores will be rebranded as “town squares” and transformed into meeting hubs for startups and the public. While the name may cause some eye-rolling, the idea is that it will establish a strong relationship between Apple and entrepreneurs. The town squares will do that by providing startup founders with opportunities to seek advice from developers and other entrepreneurs and offering classes on everything from coding to how to use Apple products. The first town square is due to open in Chicago in October and the concept will then be rolled out across the globe.
Given the increased popularity of remote working and renting co-working spaces among new entrepreneurs, providing a space to meet and share ideas could be just the thing to bring the next generation of founders closer to Apple and its products.
London fintech startup Neyber raises £115m in series C
Success stories like Funding Circle and TransferWise have cemented London’s reputation as a leading hub for innovative fintech startups. And this week another name was added to the list of flourishing fintech companies when Neyber, the startup enabling companies to lend employees money and recoup the loans through their salaries, successfully raised £115m in its series C round.
Having proven its model and added over 80 employers to its books since launching in 2015, Neyber has now raised £100m from Goldman Sachs and an additional £15m from existing investors – the second round it has closed this year, having raised £7.5m in its series B round in April. The money will be used to further develop the company and to work towards launching a savings product that bundles loans into a tax-free ISA to provide employees with a way to earn higher returns on their money.
It certainly seems as if London’s fintech sector is maintaining its reputation for birthing innovative startups.
Brexit causes more SMEs to look to Hong Kong and China for new opportunities
British businesses certainly didn’t welcome the uncertainties causes by Brexit. And as the UK’s relationship with the EU is seemingly changing from day to day, a third of British SMEs are looking for safer trade deals in China and Hong Kong, according to a new report from the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.
Having surveyed 1,000 small companies, the researchers revealed that while confidence in business growth in Europe and Asia are broadly similar at 57% and 62% respectively, UK businesses worries around Brexit have caused them to look to China for future business opportunities. However, Hong Kong is especially attractive to British firms for a number of reasons. Not only are 51% of business leaders attracted to the high level of English proficiency in the city but 45% also see Hong Kong as a gateway into the Chinese mainland and other Asian countries.
With the negotiations between Britain and Brussels seemingly at a standstill, we can hardly blame SMEs for looking for opportunities beyond Europe.
One in three British office workers don’t want to work from home
Flexible working has long been hailed as an efficient method of boosting productivity and providing employees with a better work-life balance. However, a new survey suggests that 31.4% British employees don’t like to work from the comfort of their own humble abodes.
Having surveyed 2,000 office workers, Crucial, the memory and storage company, found that that 21% of workers who avoid working from home do so because they would miss the human interaction they get from working in an office while another 21% said they couldn’t connect to the company’s IT system. Other reasons cited were slow internet connections, having to do domestic chores and noisy neighbours. Interestingly, the survey also found that there was a generational difference as 40% of those over the age of 45 said nothing would keep them from working from home while only 11% of those between 18 and 34 said the same.
So while working from home may have advantages, this survey reveals that there are good reasons some employees may be reluctant to embrace flexible working.