Most entrepreneurs setting up a company don’t spend hours planning their IT infrastructure, considering the ‘as-is’ and ‘to-be’ pictures, and then crafting the ultimate technology roadmap to get them there. For most startups, the focus is on getting to market as quickly as possible, securing those first few customers, and building the team that can help to improve their offering and ultimately scale the business.

Startups find themselves in an exciting and fast-paced environment and understand the benefits that the cloud has to offer in terms of business agility and reduced costs (when compared to on-premise) and so opt for a cloud-first approach. But the cloud-based apps, systems and platforms are generally selected on a case-by-case basis to meet a specific need ‘in the moment’.

For example:

  • Gmail for email
  • Dropbox for backup and file sharing or G-suite
  • Trello for task management
  • FreeAgent for accounting

And when you’re a startup with perhaps 5 people, it works fine. It’s easy to share information, you’ve got the tools you need to communicate and collaborate – everyone is able to get on with their job and start scaling the business. And yet according to research on Inc., this is where 70% of startups begin to struggle when considering how to prepare their team, infrastructure and systems for growth. How would you migrate from G-suite to enterprise solutions? How is access control handled in your collaboration tools?

Failing to plan means that your business can’t scale, and the outlook is poor: 60% of startups go under within 3 years and 20% close their doors within just 12 months.

How to scale your startup the right way

Most startups will at least consider the need to secure funding, so they possess the internal resource needed to start forming the plan that will help to grow their business. And the investment market has been particularly strong here in the UK. According to research published on Forbes, this time last year, investors had pumped a record-breaking £4.5bn into 889 startup and scale-up companies. Much of this funding was secured by seed-stage companies, who are actively searching for investment at the proof-of-concept stage.

One hub of activity can be found at Oxford Sciences Innovation – an organisation on a mission to help Oxford’s outstanding scientists build and grow great businesses that can improve the world. Over the last 5 years it has raised over £600m to help several startups bring their innovations to market.

“For fast-growing, scale-up businesses it’s essential to get the right technology foundations in place as soon as possible and ensure your staff can collaborate securely and be as productive as possible.”

Head of Property, Oxford Sciences Innovation plc

For startups operating in sectors like life sciences and pharmaceuticals, investors will pay particular attention to security, privacy and IP protection within your business because without it, you have nothing. They want to see that you have the controls in place to maintain a strong security posture as you scale and protect that which is of most value in the business. One startup to emerge from Oxford Science Innovation that understands the importance of ingraining tight security into their DNA is Oxford VR. Harnessing the power of virtual reality, Oxford VR is developing evidence-based psychological treatments for a range of mental health conditions using state-of-the-art immersive technology.

“We have been working with Atech over the last 2 years delivering… a modern workplace environment where users can connect and work anywhere in the world. We have deployed Microsoft security products, the likes of Intune, Bitlocker, ATP, MFA, Conditional Access have been used to increase the posture of the environment. There has also been a focus on speed of deployment and new users to be able to scale quickly with the use of Windows Autopilot for automated deployment.”

Head of IT & Compliance, Oxford VR Limited

But this is just one in a long list of demands from investors. Specifically looking for drive, passion and resilience they need to see that you’re set up for sustainable growth – not a short-term burst of activity that results in failure in less than 3 years.

And to prove that you’re set up for success, 71% of investors state they want startups to demonstrate they have a proven business model.

With the right business model in place, you demonstrate that you have the right strategy, with the right people working in the right roles, using the right systems, processes and technologies to make it all happen. With the right business model in place, your startup can scale with ease. What’s more, it can scale up operations without scaling up risk.

Startups need to professionalise their IT

We’re helping startups, like Oxford VR, create a secure platform for growth by providing access to free services worth $120,000.

A UK-wide programme, we want to help you adopt the enterprise-grade technology that’s going to secure your business and protect your IP, while providing the flexibility and agility that enables you to scale with ease and attract the investment you need.

The programme covers a range of offerings, including:

To find out more and get involved, find out what’s in it for startups like yours.

Scaling up a startup is very exciting. Sorting out your infrastructure may have fallen to the wayside and you have been able to get by with file sharing and email. But do you have the resources to provide a productive working environment for your team with secure collaboration and remote working? How would you implement data protection that complies with legislation and industry requirements? You will need to protect your IP and establish business continuity arrangements in order to reassure your investors.