Brighton small business insights with South East Angels

Runway East

19th April 2023

If you've been living under a rock, you might have missed that we're opening a Brighton space! So we've been chatting to some local legends about all things business-y and Brighton-y.

First up is Kristina Pereckaite, Founder and Managing Director of South East Angels and Chapter Director for Startup Grind Brighton.

Tell us about you

My background is in small business marketing and running accelerator programmes for startups. In November 2020 I founded Brighton's #1 most active business angel investor group: South East Angels.

Our mission is to increase investment activity in the region whilst creating the most valuable community for angel investors where they can gain experience, make connections and share opportunities.

In 2023, we have launched our Future Angels programme to encourage more women into the investment community.

How have small businesses in Brighton changed?

The ecosystem in Brighton has developed significantly over the last decade. Over the last few years, I have seen Brighton's startup scene really grow and thrive, and that has been reflected in the number of new coworking spots and innovation programmes we have seen popping up!

Brighton has always been known as this laid-back holiday place (and it still is) but we are now seeing a real increase in ‘serious’ business activity alongside this with some very notable funding rounds and exits.

A few exciting stats that came out of a recent report from the British Business Bank showed that Investment value in the South East grew by 59%. Brighton is a core part of the South East Region, significantly contributing to this activity.

Which businesses are you most excited about?

We are, of course, very excited about our Brighton portfolio companies: Percept Imagery and Lucidity. Both of these startups have really strong founders and teams behind them and are at really pivotal times in their business growth journeys.

What’s the coolest innovation you’ve come across recently in Brighton?

It has to be Sussex University spin-out Universal Quantum. They’re building quantum computers to tackle real-world problems that would take today’s fastest supercomputers billions of years to solve.

It’s super exciting to see a local company involved in the race towards what is very likely one of the biggest technology developments we will experience in our lifetime. 

What are the biggest challenges for 2023?

I foresee two big challenges, the first is hiring, which small businesses are already experiencing. Finding great people has always been tough and there are so many shifts happening, from changes in people’s expectations to technology advancements.

The second is that in a market like this, strong foundations are crucial to survival. Investors are going back to fundamentals when evaluating a startup, and so should founders.

Do you actually have a really strong product/ service? Are you solving a real problem? Are you close to your customer and understand them better than your competition? Do you have a viable financial model in place that considers multiple scenarios? Do you understand what is happening in your industry today and is this the right timing for your business?

If you have all of this in place, then starting out in times like these can actually be a huge opportunity.

What difference does it make to businesses working in person?

You will undoubtedly face challenges as an entrepreneur, and it can sometimes feel lonely and isolating.

Being part of a local community with other like-minded individuals to share the good and tough moments with is one of the most valuable things you can have in place throughout your business journey to keep yourself sane.

Any advice for entrepreneurs?

Focus on solving a real problem. If you’re doing something that truly adds value, the rest will fall into place. 

Work in Brighton?

Check out our swanky new coworking space in Brighton with infinite (decent) coffee, Cake Wednesdays and Dogs on Demand.