Even start up businesses which would traditionally see themselves as niche and hand made are in existence due mainly to their ability to sell online. I challenge anyone to think of a new business that does not use technology in some fashion.
But this is not news. Computers have been shaping our economy since the 60s when the first circuit boards were created, my old boss Lord Sugar was a pioneer in creating one of the very first personal computers. Today, we see start up businesses that are still shaping the future as Sugar was, but in a very different way.
In my role as Creative Director of Start Up Loans I have unprecedented access to over 9,500 start ups created this year, and 30 per day new business that are transforming the start up landscape. In an internal survey conducted last month, 25 per cent of respondents explicitly say they have an e-commerce function on their site. These are businesses doing all sorts of things from design orientated bicycle accessories, to online pet retailers, to things more sophisticated such as a technology platform to enable schools and universities to house their own e- retail environments and an online booking platform for restaurants and bars.
Take Steve Logon from the West Midlands as a classic example. Aged 30, he borrowed from the Start Up Loans Company to set up Bespo, an online community where artists promote and sell their designs as products to a worldwide audience. All his products are printed and made after payment has been received so there is no stock to carry, thus reducing costs. E-commerce is revolutionising retail, there is less storage, and the market is now worldwide.
As an economic historian at heart, I understand the way in which the changing nature of technology is something that is key to any developing economy. Technology really came into its own during the early modern era (1450 – 1750). That’s when we started to see transportation advance in Western Europe, fuelled by the need to transport goods across the globe, and people from towns to cities. Technology fuels economic growth, and economic growth in turn is reliant on technological developments. This is truer today then ever before. Except that today technological growth comes mainly in the form of disseminating information rather than transportation.
I’m talking about applications that are changing the way we organise ourselves in society. Just as technological advancements in ship building before us now mean it is common place for us to have spices for supper, twitter allows us to know what our friends and peers are thinking and feeling in real time in the palm of our hand. What does that mean for the future?
I heard Matt Brittin MD of Google UK answer this question when giving a speech at the IoD Annual Conference earlier this autumn. He said the future of technology is in how we process information to get it to the right people at the right time, in a format that is bespoke to them. This struck a cord with me and made me think – once we have all the correct information we need to live our lives, at the blink of an eye, surely this will free us up to create even more amazing things, have more time to work and play, and ultimately gift us more time to do more things that we enjoy to do.
Yasmina Siadatan is Creative Director at Start Up Loans
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