Top tech stats: Entrepreneurial confidence, VR headsets and much more

Top tech stats

Welcome to your roundup of some of the past week’s most interesting surveys, statistics and reports relevant to those involved in the UK tech industry.

This week we bring you the latest stats on entrepreneurial sentiment across the globe, focus on the growing demand for VR headsets and much more.

Entrepreneurial confidence

Some 50% of founders think their own ability to manage a fast-growing business is the biggest risk they face.

That’s according to the latest research released by VC firm Highland Europe. The firm, which polled 175 company leaders across Europe, also found that almost as many (47%) founders were concerned about their ability to change strategy quickly when necessary.

Worryingly, the research shows that startups in the UK are consistently less confident than their counterparts across the world. Although nearly two-thirds of all business leaders believe their company has ‘unicorn’ potential, this figure drops to 47% for businesses in the UK. Some 69% and 73% of those surveyed in Europe and the rest of the world think their company could become the next unicorn.

Despite this, the data suggests that UK companies are no less confident than their international peers about the prospect for tech firms in the UK.

According to the research, the challenges facing scaleups are as follows:

Building sales and customer acquisition (61%)
Finding senior talent and professional management (58%)
Establishing the right organisational structure (54%)
Access to capital (44%)
Establishing processes to standardise areas (44%)

Tony Zappala, partner at Highland Europe, commented on the findings: “Scaling a business successfully is an incredibly difficult thing to do. There are challenges at every turn and the ones that can really trip up a founder are not always the ones you’d expect.

“Interestingly, as a business grows, its major concerns over building sales and customers become slightly less critical. In fact, this research suggests that pre-scaling businesses may overstate the challenge of sales and customer acquisition. As growth continues, increasingly management issues surface, including the ability to hire senior talent and managers,” he added.

Digital business gap

According to the research released by Nockolds, a law firm, the gap in the number of digital businesses being set up in London and the rest of the UK widened again last year.

The number of digital businesses in London increased by 10.6% in 2016, compared to just 7.7% for the UK as a whole.

Additionally, the data shows that the number of digital entreprises in London jumped from 41,940 to 46,405 between 2015 and 2016.

In the North of England, where the government is particularly keen to promote the growth of the digital sector, the number of digital enterprises increased by 7.4% in 2016, from 21,745 to 23,345.

Nicola Lucas, an Associate at Nockolds who advises digital businesses, said: “The digital economy is a UK success story but the gap between London and the rest of the country is widening. Digital businesses benefit from clustering, so this process could accelerate as growing numbers of digital businesses feel that they need to be in the capital where the tech talent and related infrastructure is based.”

“For startups the relatively low cost of being based in regional cities can make an important difference in the critical early years. As business grow, the benefits of being close to peers and talent in London often outweighs the cost saving of being in a regional city where attracting staff can be a headache,” she concluded.

VR headsets

Virtual reality headsets are increasingly attracting consumers.

Data released by YouGov suggests that ownership of VR headwear is in the rise. According to the data, in Q4 2016, only 3% of the population owned some, a figure which doubled to Q1 2017.

This growth, YouGov found, is being largely driven by men, which represent 56% of owners, and young people aged between 18 and 34 (47%).

Additionally, the study suggests that VR is already shifting beyond early adopters, noting that over a fifth of consumers (22%) are second wave purchasers and almost three in ten (9%) are mainstream buyers.

Only 15% of those surveyed are early adopters.

Justin Marshall, associate director of digital, media and technology at YouGov: “The implications of and applications for VR going mass market are huge. While there are obvious opportunities for games manufacturers, the real advance will come for marketers.

“For example, with mass adoption it is worth companies and brands investing in VR-related content, from travel companies giving people a high definition tour of a hotel or destination to sports broadcasters bringing viewers right to the heart of the action for example ITV recently partnering to broadcast the Grand National in VR, and BT who will be broadcasting the Champions League final in the same way,” added Marshall.

The research claims to highlight the extent to which the VR boom is being driven by low-end headsets, which are being seen to popularise the technology at a much faster rate than other recent pieces of consumer tech.

YouGov says the overwhelming majority (79%) of VR hardware owners have a headset that works with their mobile phone, with the most commonly purchased ones being Samsung Gear (22%) and Google Cardboard (21%).

Despite this, the data suggests that top-end products are also gaining traction. PlayStation VR (10%), Oculus Rift (3%) and HTC Vive (3%) account for a 16% share of the market.