Giving tech start-ups the support they need to change the world


Plato famously wrote: "our need will be the real creator", which over time morphed into the proverb, "necessity is the mother of invention". Certainly, it seems that the world is currently in need of something. 

From the reversal of Roe v. Wade in America last week to the deportation of UK refugees to Rwanda, not to mention anything about Russia, the leadership around the world currently leaves something to be desired.

It is not just politicians, however, who have the power to influence and drive change. Businesses can wield influence and have been doing so in equal measure. For example, in the US, major companies, including Disney, JP Morgan and Meta, have pledged to pay staff travel expenses for abortions. In Russia, global brands have been pulling out of the market in their droves - voting with their proverbial feet. Meanwhile, off the coast of Liverpool, a group of no-nonsense dock workers made their opinions known regarding the Ukraine war when they refused to unload Russian oil from a German-flagged ship. 

Businesses, and the people within them, can drive change and make profits, and nowhere is that more evident than tech start-ups. 

The growing power of tech start-ups

You don't have to be involved with tech start-ups to know that it's a burgeoning market. What's interesting, though, are the market's opportunities for driving social change.

Yes, we know that the world is increasingly reliant on technology. So, if you happen to have the next big idea, there is likely investment and opportunity waiting for you on the microchip-paved streets of Silicon Valley.

What might be news to you, however, is that the influence of tech start-ups is broader and deeper than ever before. 10 years ago, the top tech start-ups were almost exclusively located in Western and English-speaking cities. The 2022 Global Start-up Ecosystem Report (GSER) now reveals that there are thriving ecosystems in every part of the world. Unicorns, as JF Gauthier, Founder and CEO of Startup Genome, writes, now "proliferate on six continents."

How is technology driving social change?

The COVID-19 pandemic did accelerate the growth and importance of start-ups, but the reason was not solely because tech is the sector of the day.

Technology is recognised as a driver of digital transformation, but the nature of such businesses lends the area to social change as well. Take, for example, Saudi Arabia, which has the world's third-highest share of female entrepreneurs - more women are entrepreneurs in the Kingdom than men. There are more female tech start-up entrepreneurs in Saudi Arabia than in Europe. One explanation for this is that despite progress regarding economic equality, the best option for women wishing for complete independence is to launch their own businesses.

While we can all see how technology can be manipulated for ill gain, tech companies tend to embody a democratic ideology (by nature and because it benefits their business). They are in a position to disseminate information reflecting those values, even in the most oligarchical environments. For example, in Russia, many young people have been able to access a different narrative to the one purported by the state, thanks to the likes of TikTok.

We also see technology driving change in the environment (cleantech start-ups), particularly with their capacity to influence and action government agendas for carbon neutrality.

Designed to succeed or designed to fail?

Start-ups have always been an exciting and important sector of the business market. Once they matriculate to SMEs, they make up a significant proportion of the economic market. For example, there were 5.6 million SMEs in the UK in 2021, accounting for over 99% of all businesses. Meanwhile, there were 38,240 tech start-ups in the UK in 2021. That's an increase of 62% from the previous year, and those numbers are only growing.

Starting a business and succeeding in it are two different things. The best ideas in the world can fall foul of a lack of industry insights. As many as 90% of start-ups ultimately fail. The reason for that isn't necessarily the concept but that the execution hasn't been rooted in data and market knowledge. For example, there's often no competitive analysis to establish product-market fit, understand the customer with market segmentation, fully appreciate the capabilities required and assess the right level of funding, for example. 

The key to achieving a successful business strategy along with industry-transforming ideas is combining the visionary enthusiasm of the founders with experienced marketing prowess. However, start-ups looking to conserve their spending are often put off by the expense of employing an established CMO or marketing strategist. 

At gigCMO, we combine our scalable, fractional CMO services with a 'playbook' approach that gives scale-ups the strategic thinking and knowledge of a marketing expert but at a fraction of the cost. You gain the experience needed to test your concept and find your place in the market, and as a result, get a fighting chance of going from start-up to game-changing business. You might even turn out to be a unicorn.

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