Editor's note: This is a sponsored post with our partner UK Trade & Investment
This years Digital Shoreditch was bigger than ever and it was good to see a lot of local companies attending the UK based startup and entrepreneurship festival. Taking place in East of London and the Tech City, the event attracted more than 14 000 people from all of world and we got in touch with some of the attendants to see what role the event and UK in general played on their business.
Once we started talking, we quickly noticed that all of the Finnish startups that we interviewed talked about one common factor that they noticed in the UK - the cultural differences in networking. As it turns out, once you are on the UK soil, you get sucked into networking. The whole startup ecosystem focuses heavily on networking and tries to match people up as much as possible, which does happen in Finland as well, but nowhere near as much as it does in the UK.
Mäkirintala Eija, the CEO of Altonova, a finnish company making corporate education games, told us that "[People in the UK] really take you into their own networks and like to match people up. I wish it was more like this in Finland. That's a really big help."
As I have spent over 3 years in the UK, this is definitely something I can confirm. There is a dedicated networking event absolutely every single day in most big cities such as London, Birmingham and Manchester, moreover the people there love to connect to one another and exchange business cards. This is where I got my addiction to business cards, a trait which has been of great help to me personally.
Mika Ylinen of Frontle, a startup building a social concert platform, also told ArcticStartup: "...the most interesting part of that whole experience was the people I met and the connections created. Like I said- the business culture in London is way different- it´s a lot about networking. People are really hooking up and it felt natural for everyone especially because the settings [At Digital Shoreditch] were created with that in mind. It really seems to me that many startups over the last couple of years have found a solid ground from London and it felt like the entire city would be backing you up. "
We also had the chance to talk to Juha-Petteri Kukkonen, founder of an upcoming social trips planner - Createtrips. Kukkonen told us that "The event was really good place to make new meaningful connections within' the UK digital media scene. The real eye opener was that to see how everyone was willing to help you and your startup."
As many would say, a strong team is the holy grail of successful startups, but I think that being able to build meaningful connections is a close second as it can help your business in a number of ways. ArcticStartup knows this firsthand as it was the connections and being open to people that helped us restart the company earlier this year.
If this process is simplified, encouraged and supported by the whole ecosystem then getting ahead with your startup can be that much easier. From talking to Altonova, Frontle and Createtrips this definitely seems to be the case in the UK and especially so in East London and Tech City.
Getting there, is easy - just choose a date, preferably that coincides with good events, and book the flights. As Mäkirintala told us, people need to be more proactive and check out what else is out there. She told us a story of a big group of startups that were going to go to Digital Shoreditch but ended up staying home because nobody organized the trip for them. She just had to ask: "Why didn't they come by themselves, like us? I am trying to encourage people to be more adventurous, just do it. Do not wait for someone else to do it for you."
This could not be closer to the truth, we definitely have a lot of great local events but to become truly global, you need to join the international startup movement and not just the local one. Going to international events is definitely a giant leap forward and Digital Shoredtich is definitely one of the best ones to go to. In short, do not be afraid to travel, it is good for your startup.