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Ask HN: Move to the UK to start a startup as EU citizen?
18 points by throaway984375 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 27 comments
As per the title, before brexit, London was easily the best place to go in Europe to start a startup (VC landscape, availability of talent, general feeling towards new enterprises).

How do you think Brexit has impacted that, in practical terms?

As an EU citizen, would you still move to London to start a business, if not, what's the next best place?

some reference material I have been reading on the matter:

0: https://venturebeat.com/2017/10/31/london-continues-to-dominate-europes-tech-scene-despite-brexit/ 1: http://www.cityam.com/278258/londons-tech-scene-pulls-record-gbp25bn-2017-venture 2: https://www.politico.eu/article/tech-brexodus/

I'm at at an accelerator in Canary Wharf, London (mainly fintech focused) and despite initial concern straight after Brexit the attitude is very buoyant. There's also been good news recently about the transition period [1] which gives everyone more time to work out the details.

Yeah, rent is high – residential and commercial – but it's a truly fantastic city to live in. I moved to London from Manchester 5 years ago – I love that city too but it's a different world from a business and startup perspective (and climate!).

[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-43456502

I'd really consider Barcelona and here are a few reasons why:

* Compact and easy to travel around

* Ton of engineers looking for interesting startups, engineering quality is higher than the average in the UK.

* Beautiful city, easy to attract talent.

* Engineering salaries are much cheaper so less money needed to start hiring.

* Lots of awesome co-working,meetups and cafes to work in, goes hand in hand with being easier to travel around.

* I've lived in the city on 12k euros before and still had a very comfortable life, gives you more runway!

Reasons that Barcelona isn't suitable:

* The legal system and bureaucracy is much more complex and slow which can result in a lot of costs.

* If you start as a sole trader equivalent here you have to pay around 250 euros a month regardless of whether you turn a profit (or even bill anything) which is just maddening.

* Transient population, there are a lot of folks that move here from all over the world and move on again after a year or two. It can be harder to start,keep and maintain professional relationships.

* The official languages are not English, they are Catalan and Spanish. Everyone is bilingual but it does bring challenges in communication, learning two languages and also can be trickier targeting the US/UK market for example (whilst developers here will have English sufficient to work in if needed copywriters/marketers won't always have the native level needed).

* As with most major European cities there are direct flights to London/Madrid/Berlin/Paris/Milan/Rome/Prague/USA etc

As someone who lives in the UK not even I would move to London; it is the economic hub of the UK but with that comes huge rent and high competition to find office space.

Look at other cities like Cambridge, Manchester, Norwich; all of which would open their arms to new startups.

Brexit will make all this extremely awkward no matter where you choose without access to the open market and new immigration laws that will come into place.

>and high competition to find office space

This is less of an issue in recent years. I've not really struggled to find suitable, affordable office space. There are tons of co-working spaces like WeWork et al popping up that also offer private office space.

London is a great city, and I think that if you could offer most people the opportunity to own a house (or even rent) near their work for a reasonable price, they'd jump at the chance.

The problem with London is that it's simply too expensive, and as such it's tricky to land experienced developers. It's also an expensive place to set up shop, due to high cost of office space and higher salaries expected.

If you're looking to move to the UK I'd look into another city. Bristol is probably the biggest tech hub for startups outside of London, and even though house/rent prices are skyrocketing in recent years the tech scene is growing at a crazy rate. It's also growing at a crazy rate, due to Londoners choosing to leave the capital to settle down. Finally, there's a handful of solid VC's in the area. Manchester has also had a lot of success in recent years, probably thanks to MediaCity.

I hate that people think you can't find a place walking distance from work in London for a (for London) decent price. It's totally possible anywhere in London, but as most people aren't originally from the area and there is this stereotype, they don't even try!

Pretty sure Manchester is second to London.

Maybe a while ago, and I guess it's down to what sector you ask, some will say neither.

Bristol has been touted as the second city for a lot of agencies, so a number of large contracts now go through the city. Outside of large businesses and hardware/microprocessors, the startup culture is thriving, and there have been a few successful exits to large companies (i.e. Twitter, Microsoft).

I'm no expert, but it seems like a risky proposition when agreements on future relations with the continent and any reciprocal rights of abode haven't been defined yet.

Go to Germany. Better ROI for hiring tech, gonna stay in the EU, also cheap Ltd equivalent (UG).

VC landscape - Yep, it's great but it's not unrivalled. Berlin and the Nordic regions are rapidly improving.

Availability of talent - Lots of talent sure but there's also an enormous amount of competition for said talent which means freelancing is abundant and salaries and rates are rapidly increasing.

Where are you customers? I'd go there.

I'd also consider if you want to accept payments, wether it's going to be EUR or GBP, that could be another layer of unnecessary complexity at the beginning.

For taxes I think Ireland (or Switzerland) are the best places. For startup community and social life I'd go to Berlin or Barcelona.

>Where are you customers? I'd go there.

Probably the best advice in this whole thread.

You might need a visa for you and your employees in the future. It's quite likely that Berlin is replacing London as the tech hub (I personally would place a startup in Berlin now, if I could choose, no doubt)

I don’t agree with the premise.

It is very hard to imagine the EU completely blocking the UK from the common market.

On the other hand there is no shortage of extreme idiocy displayed by Brussels the last 10-15 years.

It’s a bit like asking if you should invest in bitcoin.

Well, it takes two to tango. This is not so much about the EU blocking the UK from the common market (there are clear rules for access to that market after all) but the UK not wanting to be part of that market anymore.

Call me naive, but as a EU citizen I believe there is way less uncertainty with the UK than there is for the euro-zone.

Yeah, maybe it's gonna be ugly for a few years while the UK recovers its independence, but eventually they will essentially go back to functioning just like 90% of the countries on earth. In the mean time, with the situation in Greece, Italy, Eastern Europe getting pretty nasty, who knows what's gonna happen in the EU in the next 5 to 10 years?

The UK is not regaining independence, it was never lost.

I think it is naive to assume that in the current political climate with huge actors (US/China/Russia/India) and the potential for trade wars that the UK will come out better from this especially with their previous privileged position.

They are regaining full autonomy and won't need to comply with directives coming from Brussels if you prefer.

There are plenty of countries way smaller than the UK that do just fine on their own, and don't feel the need to merge with their neighbors. There are pros and cons to forming alliances with other nations, but 1) they don't need to be as involved and permanent as the EU, 2) they don't need to be primarily based on geography.

As various people have pointed out, as a matter of realpolitic the UK will have very little choice in complying with most directives because the alternative of maintaining two markets or not shipping to the EU are infeasible. The requirement of not having a hard border in Ireland which the UK has already conceded means that Northern Ireland will almost certainly have to follow EU directives.

e.g. https://medium.com/@gordonguthrie/no-deal-wont-happen-e185f9...

Realistically the options are "disaster Brexit" (fail to make other trade arrangements, lose NI and Gibraltar, huge airline losses, shutdown of nuclear reactors run by EDF, etc) or "pointless Brexit" (everything remains roughly the same, except the UK loses its vote)

I’d wait till the dust around Brexit settles. There’s really no way to tell before the final deal is agreed upon.

The transition period will probably end in December 2020 - that's a long time to wait and see!

Yes, that’s the problem with Brexit, isn’t it? No one seems to have an actual plan of how it’s supposed to be in the end.

Moving to and founding a company in a country that might expel you in a few years if you’re not a citizen seems a bit risky to me.

In theory it's all supposed to be put to bed before the transition starts, I have my doubts though, in fact I still have doubts whether it will happen at all.

London has insane rent.

I worked in one of the London's financial centres (Canary Wharf) until 2013 for Morgan Stanley. I lived back then in East London (Leyton) and it was a 30 minute door to door commute. I bought a house there in 2000 for £185,000. In 2015 I sold it for £550,000. You can see both sales (number 47) on http://www.rightmove.co.uk/house-prices/detail.html?country=... I moved to Boston (Uk, Lincolnshire) where £315,000 bought a 2 bed house plus annex plus almost 2 acres land. Rentals in East London back then were £1400 a month for two bed property, around £2,200 in West London. In Boston for the same they were £500 a month. I couldn't afford to move back to London now.

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