London SMEs urged to get digital

With new research showing only 15% of the capital’s businesses are online, BQ looks at a few SMEs who have benefited from investing in their digital operations.

Source:, 2016 

03/10/2016, news

Over 91,618 new businesses have already been launched in London this year as the city’s entrepreneurial community goes from strength-to-strength.

This means a total of 975,835 businesses are now currently operating in the capital, however new research from 123 Reg shows that just 15% of these businesses are online.

123 Reg has been supporting the StartUp Britain campaign this summer offering support and guidance to SMEs across the UK as part of its nationwide tour.

Matt Smith, director at StartUp Britain and co-founder of the Centre for Entrepreneurs, said: “Small businesses are the backbone of London’s economy and are responsible for the capital’s reputation as one of the most important cities in the world.

“The StartUp Britain bus tour with 123 Reg has highlighted the need for small businesses to improve their digital skills so they are able to capitalise on the opportunities in post-Brexit Britain.”

One such small business operating in London that has put digital at the heart is Turtle Tots. Turtle Tots is a swimming programme that begins with aqua-natal yoga for mums-to-be and continues with specialist baby and toddler classes, with the business’ website allowing customers to book online.

Caroline Sparks, commercial director of Turtle Tots, said: “Our website is the cornerstone of our business, allowing customers to enquire about classes and book online as well as showcasing our brand.

Another business to benefit is Usheru, a start-up helping people find the perfect seat at cinemas, film festivals and outdoor screenings across London and Dublin. Thanks to curated content and suggestions based on their personal tastes, users can use the app or website to book their ideal film experience.“One of our initial challenges was improving our organic Google ranking so our customers could find us easily. Improving my digital skills has allowed me to reach new customers, leading to significant growth for the business.”

Support from Google Launchpad has been fundamental to Usheru’s continued growth. “We joined Launchpad to build connections. Being linked with Google has given us validation and endorsement, while being part of a start-up community helps us learn and share experiences,” said Catherine Downes, co-founder of Usheru.

Lastly, SwiftKey, which builds technology that makes it easier for people to create and communicate via mobile, has benefited massively from investing in its digital operations. The company has been described as “one of Britain’s brightest young technology firms” and as “a big success in the apps world.”

Launched in 2010, the SwiftKey app, a keyboard typing app, was the biggest seller on Google Play in 2012 and 2013. It was also the most downloaded app in 58 countries. Google Android is one of the platforms SwiftKey uses to build its extremely popular and successful app.

“SwiftKey and Android grew up together,” says co-founder and chief technology officer, Ben Medlock. “Today, our app is used by a staggering 250 million people, which is still kind of unbelievable.”

And those are just three examples of how going digital can boost business. Could your company benefit? 

Source:, 2016