First and foremost, it was the lively community of businesses in this part of town that appealed. Shoreditch has a thriving ecosystem of entrepreneurs who are excited by the potential of technology to enhance our lives and disrupt the status quo. We’re a disruptive business ourselves, with a tech-enabled business model which is unusual in commercial law. In the three-and-a-half years since we set up in Bristol, our different profile has led us naturally to work with a client base of innovators in the West – and we wanted to recreate something of that success in London.
So for us, coming to London last year was about being quick on our feet to tap into the needs all the exciting companies and entrepreneurs that find the capital such a draw.
That world, that we hoped and imagined was here, is just what we’ve found in Tech City. Not just tech businesses, of course, but a collection of enterprises and individuals who are hell-bent on making stuff happen by pushing at the boundaries: new business models, new technologies, new markets being identified – it’s all going on here in this concentrated community, as well as further afield in the capital. There’s a real spirit of optimism and a conviction that London can compete on the world stage.
Then there’s the fascinating interaction between this community and the rest of the UK. We’re seeing technology hubs emerging across the land, all talking to each other, because geography is no barrier in the digital age. Tech City is inspirational, and it’s part of a wider pattern. As a law firm we’re finding tremendous benefits in having offices in two of the main tech hubs in the south of England – London and Bristol. It means we can go beyond being merely advisers – we can be connectors too.
After nine months we’re able to call London home, instead of feeling like newcomers. It’s a big city, but part of the magic of the place is that it absorbs enthusiastic new arrivals like us so easily. I was recently appointed a mentor at the fintech accelerator Level39 in Canary Wharf, which is an incredible project linking two of London’s strongest industries – finance and technology. And Temple Bright has just won a place on the panel of advisers at the Wayra Academy in the West End, alongside well established legal players like Mishcon de Reya and Taylor Wessing.
In recent months we’ve got busy supporting some deals here in Tech City. Last month one of my partners in London, James Vickerman, helped Blenheim Chalcot, an investment management group that specialises in technology-driven investments, on its purchase of the financial technology portal Bobsguide from a US operator. Three months earlier he also drove another media- and tech-related deal: the acquisition of the Tech City app and web developer Red C by a Buckinghamshire brand engagement agency. We’ve got plenty more in the pipeline as well.
So the year ahead here in our new home looks exciting. It’s the energy here in Tech City that’s so palpable: there’s a real buzz of activity all the time, and it soon rubs off on you.
From The Evening Standard Business Connections, 7 February 2014