In the loop: Europe’s tech ecosystem’s great year, Small Business Saturday breaks records and Zoopla founder’s new startup secures £30m

This week, read how Alex Chesterman’s latest adventure got funded, how most SME bosses can’t handle micromanagement and find out why UK tech businesses are less optimistic

In the loop: Europe's tech ecosystem’s great year

Alex Chesterman’s new car trading platform closes £30m seed round

From DVD rentals with LoveFilm to the property market with Zoopla, entrepreneur Alex Chesterman has already left his mark on two very different industries. Now, he’s shifting gears after securing a seed round for Cazoo, his new used car trading concept.

Finding funding from VC fims Octopus Ventures, dmg ventures, Stride Capital and Entrée Capital and other investors, Cazoo clocked £30m in its inaugural VC round. With it, the startup aims to launch around the summer of 2019 and to disrupt the used car market. Cazoo promises to bring transparency to the transactions made when customers buy, rent or finance used cars online. 

Britain’s car market is worth more than £50bn each year and annually sells eight million second-hand autos, so Chesterman’s latest adventure certainly looks promising. 

European tech saw $23bn funding in 2018 but houses discrimination issues

It’s clear leaving the EU has already caused some concerns for UK entrepreneurs. Unsurprisingly then that while other European countries are seemingly bursting with optimism, the UK has seen the sharpest downturn of optimism across the continent, according to Atomico’s State of European Tech Report 2018

And the VC firm’s annual report suggests the rest of Europe has reason for feeling bullish. The continent raked in investment worth $23bn over the year, a steep increase from 2013’s $5bn. While the UK tech scene remained the most attractive nation for investment – accumulating over $7.1bn in 2018 – other countries are catching up. For instance, investment in Germany and France jumped by almost 35% and about 46% to roughly $3.8bn in the same period. 

This might be something the government should consider as the exit date on Friday March 29 slouches closer.

Small Business Saturday brought British independents £812m

Small Business Saturday is a campaign founded by American Express, where the nation’s encouraged to buy from SMEs. And its sixth year since being adopted in the UK shows Brits are getting more fond of it.

Around £812m was splashed out on small businesses on Saturday December 1, according to American Express, in a 8% gain from 2017’s £748m figure. And it wasn’t coincidence, given 59% aware of the drive purposely forked out more.

It was notably promoted by Theresa May, Philip Hammond, Sadiq Khan, the Federation of Small Businesses and a whopping 90% of local councils. Additionally, the event ate up social media, with #SmallBizSatUK and #SmallBusinessSaturday occupying Twitter’s top UK trends across the day.

It’s great to see initiatives like these support small-business owners. 

76% of SME bosses don’t tackle small day-to-day tasks properly

SME bosses often do a bit of everything to guarantee business runs smoothly. However, it seems as if many small-business owners are held back by having to deal with heavy administrative burdens. 

Quizzing 100 SME senior managers, Process Bliss, the research software firm, discovered 54% spend one day per week solely handling management process, while 34% dedicate two days to it. This is despite a whopping 76% confessing they tackle repeatable day-to-day to day tasks poorly.

This was further exasperated with 41% preferred to manage the process through individual systems, 30% did it through spreadsheets and 12% govern such tasks in their head, systems that could increase the risk of things going wrong, according to the researchers. 

Clearly, small-business leaders must find new ways to deal with their processes or risk missing out on great opportunities. 

Are employers responsible for Christmas after-party hijinks?

Office Christmas parties lend themselves to good cheer, cheap beer and, sometimes, staff getting weird with each other. Whether that means more than just kissing under the mistletoe or fighting one another, should employers be stepping in?

As The Apprentice finale approaches, Lord Sugar switches firing tactics

As the show entered its penultimate task this week, Alana Spencer, winner of the 2016 series, explains why Lord Sugar shook up the rules.

Britain’s lucrative events industry must embrace new tech to survive Brexit

From AI to apex wifi, the UK’s events industry is spoilt for choice to innovate and wade through Brexit tides, as Richard Green divulges.

Don’t just pick any old AI for your business

There’s been a surge of voice controlled bots entering the market and companies are jumping at the chance to use them in their business. But with all this choice, companies should take the chance to be picky, as Martin Lindstrom explains.

Cashflow doesn’t have to be a drag

Dealing with cashflow is far from easy but small businesses especially can’t avoid it. Fortunately, making life easier for yourself isn’t complicated, as Carlos Carriedo tells.

Do bosses protect their employees mental health enough?

While it may seem as if most business leaders are singing the gospel of mental health awareness, it seems as if almost two-fifths of workers don’t think their bosses supply any support to people struggling with these issues

Angus Shaw
Angus Shaw

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