The London Entrepreneur’s Startup Survival Guide

London is a bustling hub for innovation and creativity and offers countless opportunities for startups to thrive. Here’s your ultimate startup survival guide to navigate Entrepreneurial London.

Entrepreneur, founder and CEO of, Alexandria Procter has uncovered the best-of London’s Start-up scene to a Tee. Here’re her top-picks for everything you need to start up and run your business in London.

1. Best Places to Work:

Maybe it’s because I in work in property, but I take the spaces where we live, work, create and love very, very seriously. I believe we are a product of our environment. If you want to create incredible work, you need to be in an incredible space. London in many ways is the center of the world, so just being here you’re already going to be flooded with inspiration. These are some of my favourite spots:

1. Coworking spaces

While there are the usual “chain” coworking spaces scattered about the city, I would rather recommend finding one of independent, smaller-scale options. They’re often way more quirky, beautiful and foster a great sense of community. Don’t just pick the obvious one, go visit a couple, spend a day at each and see what feels right.

2. Cafe culture

Humans are not made to sit in an office all day. So change it up, get out there, plug into cafe culture and partake in some fantastic eavesdropping (only half joking). On my blog I list more than 50 options across this remarkable city, but some of my top spots are The Roasting in Pimlico, Farm Girl in South Kensington, Milk Beach in Queen’s Park, Hally’s in Parson’s Green, Colombia Coffee Company in Soho, Redemption Roasters by Hampstead Heath and Jolene in Hackney.

3. Museums and Art Galleries

This one is a bit left field, but one of my favourite hacks. I love London for a million reasons, but one of the main ones has to be the free access to the world’s greatest museums, in what I would say are some of the world’s most stunning buildings. During the week, they’re always a lot quieter than on weekends. The Picturehouse cinemas and BFI riverfront are also pretty iconic. So head to the museum cafes, soak up the history and culture, and get inspired!

2. What to Eat:

One of the greatest joys in life has to be wandering one of London’s endless markets, eating some of the tastiest food in the world. My favourite ones are:

1. Borough Market. Yes, I know it’s touristy and crowded, but it’s like that for a reason, and that’s because it’s unbeatable.

2. Broadway Market. Just up the road from the crazy Colombia Road Flower Market, you’ll come across Broadway Market which is a lot more chill and has, at least in my opinion, the better food options of the two.

3. Greenwich Market. Make a day of it and hop on one of the boats that head down the Thames to Greenwich. Make sure to have a churro (or two) when you’re there.

4. Maltby Street Market. Authentic, edgy, bright, fun, quirky and raw. I love it.

For something a bit more formal, I wouldn’t dare write a list of my favourite food spots and not mention Dishoom. Dishoom just gets it right. And by it, I mean everything. The food, the ambience, the service, the architecture. 10/10, every time.

Finally, if you’re a brand new founder with a startup that’s just weeks or months old, and living on a shoestring budget, then nothing will save your life more than a Meal Deal from any of the main supermarkets. A sandwich, a drink and a snack. Lunch of champions.

3. Work-Life Balance:

Exercise is the main tool you have on your side when it comes to managing the stress or startup life. It’s essential to make it a part of your daily routine. London is filled to the brim with loads of parks, some huge and some smaller, but all of them are great spots to base a good run around. Throw on your trainers and hit the pavement and feel the endorphins! You can also sign up for a half marathon every now and then as something to work towards with your running.

On top of that, find a sport you love to get you away from your desk and computer on weekends. Tennis, horseriding, cycling, yoga, rowing, squash and long, gorgeous walks in the countryside. Your best bet is to join a sports club close to you so that you keep the commitment of going regularly. Personally, I’m not a fan of gyms, but lifting weights can also be a great way to get the endorphins!

4. Where to Find Funding:

Ah, the million dollar questions (pun 100% intended). Once you’ve validated your model, built your MVP (minimum viable product), tested it with customers and think you’re ready to formalise and scale it, it’s time for some rocketfuel.

London is an absolute hotbed for startup funding. There is a lot of money in this city. Unfortunately, funding is a bit of a who-knows-who club (as is it in all cities). A lot of startup-adjacent organisations will try set up events to intro founders to funders, but the best deals always happen through warm introductions and often feels like serendipity.

So your task is to increase the surface area of your serendipity. Go to every single startup event, conference, meet up, talk, all of it. Make it your KPI of the evening to speak to at least 10 people and connect with them on LinkedIn. Tell everyone what you’re raising and what for, and even if you don’t meet the right investor there, most investors know each other and they’ll pass the lead on to one of their mates if you impress them with your pitch, so keep your game face on.

Shamelessly reach out to every single VC (venture capital fund) that shows up on google search, sending them all your pitch deck, follow up relentlessly, and ask for feedback when they say no and try get face-to-face meetings to build the relationship, because they might invest later on as you show more traction.

As you build up your online network and presence, post non-stop about your startup’s updates, progress and lessons. Remember all you need is one person, the right person, to see it and reach out. Sometimes it takes 100 posts to get the 1 that makes all the difference.

5. How to Stay Motivated:

Remember why you started. When you first got the idea for The Thing you probably wrote down a million ideas in a flood of excitement and inspiration about how you’re gonna change the world with your amazing product or service or idea. Keep those documents always, and whenever you lose sight of what you’re doing, go re-read them.

There’s this proverb we have back in South Africa that says “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”. Finding a community of other founders to share war stories, check in with, laugh with will be a crucial part of your journey. Check out the meetup website and pop by some of the events that catch your attention. Put yourself out there and make friends in the community. It’s so helpful to know that you’re not on this journey alone!

Working from a coworking spot is also key. This increases your chances of bumping into other founders that could even turn into future collaborators!

Finally, mentors and advice from people who have walked the journey are another great resource. There’s mentorship programmes you can join, or you can just start reaching out shamlessly on LinkedIn. You’ll get a hundred rejections but eventualy someone that you greatly admire will be keen to do a call with you or meet up for a coffee to give you some advice and guidance on your journey.

6. Where to Meet Like-Minded People:

Startup incubators and accelerators are a great option, and not only for first time entrepreneurs! And you’re in luck, because London has some of the best startup incubator programmes in the world. If you’re looking for a cofounder, startup guidance, a cool place to work from or to get a crash course to all things startup and investment, seriously consider applying for an incubator. Some of the top options in London are:

1. Entrepreneur First
2. Antler
3. TechStars London

7. Transportation Hacks:

Navigating London efficiently is key to saving time and money whilst seeing and doing more. Here are my tips and favourite apps to make your daily commute a breeze.

Oyster card: Get an Oyster card for cheaper and hassle-free travel on London’s tubes and busses. Most people will tap in and out of tube station with apple pay or a credit card, but the great benefit of using an oyster card is that you can link your rail card (an absolute must buy if you travel a lot) and get incredible discounts on your journey! This also helps is your company will be covering the cost of your travel as it keeps all costs contained and easy to reconcile.

Biking: Consider using the Santander cycles (Boris Bikes) for short commutes or use apps like Lime and Jump for electric scooters. I eventually bought my own bike because it made more financial sense, and I love biking around the city in the warmer (and drier!) months.

Tube apps: Google Maps and citymapper are going to save your life if you’re new in town! Be prepared to take the wrong train many, many times while you figure out the idosyncricies of the network. Eventually you’ll get a feel for it and then won’t even need the apps! Nothing made me feel more like a Londoner than when I could finally naviagte the tube network without needing an app (only took me a year, haha!)

8. Legal and Financial Advice:

While your main focus with an early stage startup is getting traction and, as Y Combinator puts it, building stuff that people want, you’re going to want to make sure you’re creating the best and correct financial and legal infrastructure for your startup from the get-go, otherwise this can be a real pain later down the line!

Legal clinics: Seek free or low-cost legal advice from organizations like The City Law School Legal Advice Clinic. A lot of startup accelerators in the city will also be able to recommend legal resources

Accounting services: Use online accounting platforms like Xero or QuickBooks for managing your finances. Use a payroll service, because navigating all the tax laws can be a time-consuming and incredibly confusing task and tax is something that you don’t want to get wrong.


I moved to London to set up my startup’s international headquarters for our global expansion, coming to the UK on the Tech National Global Talent visa for tech entrepreneurship. So my entire life from my visa application to opening up bank accounts, finding offices, getting clients has been startups. Of the 18 months I’ve spent building in this city, I’ve never once regretted the decision. In many ways, you’re at the centre of the world in London and the opportunities for highly ambitious founders are endless. Get stuck in!

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