Reaching 20 years old would indicate to some that we are a well-established business, particularly so at the confluence of the rapidly changing industries of media and technology. However, compared to many other companies we’re still a baby. I like to celebrate both of these perspectives – we have some history of which we are proud but we also like to behave like a startup, nimble and independent.
At this point I could indulge in the success we’ve had with our market-leading Journalist Enquiry Service and high-quality, intuitive Media Contacts Database. But instead I want to talk about our home of 15 years, Croydon.
Croydon has an exciting startup scene and is currently seeing huge development, but it wasn’t always like that so I thought I’d share my story of how we found ourselves celebrating the majority of our 20 years in the town.
In 1997 I founded the business in a spare room in my rented Battersea flat. This rather run-down abode was not an ideal place to run a business so within a year we moved to a small office above Lloyds Bank in Clapham. After a few more years we were once again running out of space. I looked around and chose to avoid central London because of the punishing cost of rents – for a self-funded startup it just wasn’t an option.
Croydon just seemed to tick a lot of boxes – the wide range of suitable office space, great transport connections with London and Brighton and substantial catchment area of talented people. Back in the early-noughties it may not have been the first place people thought of as a place to base a business, but it made sense to me.
During ResponseSource’s time in Croydon we grew from a handful to around 50 people as we became established as a major provider of PR software in the UK.
I feel Croydon has been a great place to grow a business and these days it’s better than ever thanks to the vibrant startup and SME community and the substantial development occurring in the town.
Matthew Sims, CEO of the Croydon Business Improvement District, claims public and private investment in Croydon will reach £5.2 billion over the next five years. That’s a hell of a lot of money but the success of the town as a startup hub, exemplified by the hugely successful grass-roots Croydon TechCity group and the wider community around the Matthews Yard ‘creative hub’ [for disclosure, I am a minority shareholder in Matthews Yard], pre-dates the significant property and infrastructure development currently going on in the area. Croydon has in fact been attracting more people like me to base their businesses here for some time. Recent developments like Boxpark are certainly making the town an even more attractive place to do business but it’s fair to say the town’s renaissance began from within.
The fact that it started from within means there is a great community here for startups and entrepreneurs. That’s something as important as physical infrastructure for young businesses. Quite possibly ResponseSource would have grown even more quickly if Croydon TechCity was around back in 2001 . It’s certainly heartwarming to know people starting and running businesses now in Croydon have access to such a great network.