Tech City: Inside London's digital start-up hothouse

How entrepreneurs in a corner of East London are gearing up to compete with Silicon Valley..., play here".

CEO of similarly long-time Tech City resident Trampoline Systems Charles Armstrong puts it just as simply: "CEOs are lazy. The quality of life here is, and remains, exceptional."

As companies went from start-up to stalwart, a scene developed and gave businesses in the area even less reason to find an alternative home.

Inside ustwo's Tech City office

Inside design company ustwo's Tech City officePhoto: Jo Best/

Somethin' Else has had four moves in its life as it expanded and its office space grew accordingly: "We like it round here - we just don't want to move."

"What we do get is that all our friends are around here, like minds all over the place and collaborations are easier and idea swapping is easier and generally meeting people," he added.

An East London technology community

For many small businesses and start-ups in the digital arena, it's the community that's appealing - the area acts a business dating service, encouraging serendipitous meetings between organisations.

Apps for Good is an offshoot of digital inclusion charity CDI Europe - an organisation which runs a programme for schools, training them how to teach their pupils to build simple mobile and web apps. While the organisation didn't start off aiming to be a Tech City business - rather it ended up in the area because that's where it was initially given office space - it still sees a benefit to having its home in the area.

"This whole East London quarter is the area to be - we wouldn't want to be doing this in West London or Marble Arch," Apps for Good's head geek - a very East London job title - Daniel Morris said.

"There's a community here as well. It helps to be able to call upon people in lots of different ways," Morris said.

The visibility that being in the area gives the organisation - and the density of digital businesses nearby - serves Apps for Good too. On the hunt for mentors for its programme, chance meetings must serve in place of a business development team.

"I don't know if it's the recession or not but we've seen an...

About Jo Best

Jo Best has been covering IT for the best part of a decade for publications including, Guardian Government Computing and ZDNet in both London and Sydney.

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