Most bosses of South West tech firms value purpose above money, survey reveals

January 12, 2022

Nearly three-quarters of tech firm executives in the South West put purpose before profits while just under 80% prioritise relationships over success, according to a new survey.

The region also boasts a far higher number of female tech entrepreneurs than the national average – 36% against 22% for the UK as a whole, the research reveals. 

And the survey results also highlight two further areas where the South West is breaking down traditional barriers to entry compared to the rest of the country – some 29% of tech firm bosses are non-white while 23% do not have a university degree.

The research was commissioned by Bristol-based Antidote Communications and staged in conjunction with TechSpark, the not-for-profit network dedicated to connecting, educating and strengthening the digi-tech cluster in the region.

They quizzed more than 300 executives from small and medium-sized tech firms across the region to find out why – as often reported – it is so well suited as a location for new and experienced entrepreneurs to set up shop.

This is borne out by results showing tech executives are predominantly first-time entrepreneurs, with 90% of those surveyed never having sold a business before and only 19% receiving funding for their business.

However, experience did seem key in securing a leadership position – 80% had helped bring a product to market previously.

The survey results also confirm the region’s reputation as a breeding ground for purpose-driven businesses with 72% of tech leaders taking part saying they put purpose before money and 79% prioritising relationships over success.

Age was a key factor in the way the South West’s tech leaders run their businesses – some 90% of the 26-30 age group placed purpose above money, while only 40% of the 56-60 age group did the same.

New ways of working are also being explored by the region’s tech leaders with 74% moving their business to a hybrid work model, allowing face-to-face interaction but creating an environment that works best for their employees.

The pandemic appears not to have impacted growth plans as 58% say they are recruiting more than they were pre-Covid and 96% describe themselves as highly confident about their business. 

The survey also asked the individuals how they viewed themselves. In response, 67% said they were rational, 56% described themselves as innovators but only 42% as trusted leaders.

While 68% believed they are risk seeking, female tech leaders are much more risk averse than men – 43% against 26%.

Antidote Communications CEO Becca Williams said: “Despite the pandemic, the last two years have seen a record number of new businesses erupt onto the tech scene.

“These findings show why many chose to set up shop in the South West while also exploring what it takes to be a successful tech leader.

“It’s highly encouraging to see that the majority of these leaders are purpose driven, looking to form connections, build strong relationships and make a positive impact.”

But she said that while these figures showing the region had fewer barriers to entry, they were only a step in the right direction and showed much more work needed to be done to reach equality.


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