The number of young entrepreneurs in the UK is soaring as millennials shun graduate jobs at large firms to go it alone, new research suggests.
There are now 311,550 company directors under the age of 30, up from 295,890 just two years ago, according to accountancy firm Moore Stephens.
Some twenty-somethings may have initially joined the startup economy because of a dearth of well-paid jobs in the years following the financial crisis, but many now see the idea of founding their own company as more prestigious than joining a big firm, Moore Stephens said.
Previous generations of university leavers broadly saw graduate jobs at major financial or professional services giants as the most desirable option. But that’s no longer the case, according to the accountancy firm.
It suggests that another major contributing factor is likely to be improvements to and reliability of technology. Many startups rely heavily on digital channels to build brand awareness and reach new customers. Reductions in the cost of technology, such as server space, mean that it is now cheaper to launch a tech company than it was a decade ago.
Successful examples of the trend towards entrepreneurialism include 23-year-old Steve Bartlett, who founded a major European influencer marketing agency called Social Chain, in 2014. Today, it claims to be able to make anything trend on Twitter within 30 minutes.
Jack Rivlin, a 27-year-old Cambridge graduate, founded online news network The Tab whilst still at university, which last month received £4.6m in funding from investors including Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.
“The financial crisis in many ways gave rise to ‘generation startup’,” said Mark Ayres, partner and head of Moore Stephens’ startup programme, Hatched.
“Highly intelligent and motivated graduates faced an incredibly tough time finding a job in the years following the recession in 2008.
“Many decided to take matters into their own hands and start their own companies – often challenging and disrupting the status quo.
“Of course, a major contributing factor to this has been the rise of machine learning, artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies.
“Technology gives entrepreneurs – no matter who they are or where they come from – instant access to millions of potential customers across the globe.”