Why London? Interview with Carl Petrou, PandaPay

London has always been a hub of activity and great business opportunities. With scores of tech incubators and accelerator programs within the city, despite the recent Brexit issues, London still is a great place to do business and now, run your startup from. Thanks to also being a financial services hotspot, another side-effect are the favourable conditions for fintech startups.

We recently had the chance to talk an Aussie who has taken the leap, Carl Petrou of PandaPay, on making his move from Sydney to London almost 11 years ago.

Carl is the co-founder of PandaPay and PandaPayApp.com. From a successful health platform as Wellbeing In the City, to running CoderDojo coding clubs for kids in London, he has a longstanding background in the entrepreneurial space. He’s since now developed PandaPay, which solves the social awkwardness of split payments of your restaurant bills. Carl also mentor teams, both back home and internationally.

Here’s what he had to say:

What made you decide to move your business to London? 

I started my first European startup in London, Wellbeing In the City, and am now running my 3rd, PandaPay. Although I didn’t move these businesses from Australia to London, I’ve decided to create their HQ in London. This was because Australia just doesn’t have the population and it’s too far spread-out with limitation on expanding into other markets for the hospitality industry. Other industries are more able to expand from Australia.

Have you raised money in Europe and how did you find it compared to Australia?

Yes, both personally and have assisted other startups that I mentor in London. Australia seems to be extremely difficult, from what I’ve been told.

In London it’s a lot easier due to the tax rebates and government support. Angels that have come off the back of previous successful exists and now want to invest in London startups is common. The startup community support is stronger and there’s just more money flowing around the economy to support investment rationale. We also received support from Startup Direct and the London Co-Investment Fund.

What it’s like to do business in London?

Australians have, and are known for, their entrepreneurial drive, along with their work ethic. Whereas, the English, I’ve personally found, are very diplomatic and will rarely state how they truly feel. They’ll normally be very support of an idea, even if they’re not. When you’re starting out, you need constructive criticism – not “kindness”.

In maximising your success over here: Play on our chilled fun Aussie culture, it’s a great excuse to get yourself out there and make mistakes. If you make enough right mistakes, you’ll eventually find the right answer. The style of doing business in London is to network and do business together, and there’s a lot of it. The harder you play the the more you will actually achieve. It’s a fun game.

Are you working as a remote team or did the team move over with you? 

Both. In London, depending on your business, I don’t think it matters if your team is from the UK or not. Local talent is great if you’re running a business that reflective of the city.

What do you love about living in London?

The energy, the constant opportunities and the supportive networks. It’s Sydney times 100 (if not more).

Top 3 tips:

  1. Get yourself out there and tap into as many groups as possible, then focus on the ones that will assist you the most.
  2. Reach out to the organisation that assist startups in London – that are SO many! Give me a buzz, and let’s make your idea happen!
  3. Be prepared to network and embrace the London style of doing business. This will help you integrate and get more achieved, faster.

Thank you to Carl Petrou for this interview. You can contact him at PandaPay App.

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