Will Brexit lead to the death of mid-tier tech companies?

Eggplant COO Antony Edwards talks about Brexit uncertainty and what this could mean long-term for UK-based SMBs.

"Shall I be honest? Planning is quite a recent thing for us," laughs Eggplant's Chief Operating Officer, Antony Edwards. "Now, that might sound remarkably short sighted but at the same time, I think it sums up the surrealness of the whole thing."

We're talking Brexit because, well, what else is there to do at the moment other than talk about Brexit? Or, more specifically, we're talking about what the impact of Brexit will be on a UK-based SMB like Eggplant.

"Whenever we sit down and think all right, we need to start planning for Brexit the first question is always ‘What does that mean?'" Edwards tells me. "You go and try to find out from people like the Department of Trade about what the impact is going to be and what we should be doing, and you just get this response of ‘Well we don't know either, if we knew that we'd be in a better position to tell you.'"

Eggplant started to get properly nervous about six months ago, as it became increasingly apparent that the deal that was being worked on was unlikely to ever materialise.

"The feeling that most of our customers and clients have is that the biggest problem right now is the unknown. It doesn't matter what the target was, if we had something we could plan towards then we could do something about it but, in the absence of that, there's just fear, uncertainty and doubt. And that's really hard."

The feeling appears to be mutual across the rest of the UK tech sector, where months of speculation has now translated into a frustratingly stark reality. In late January, there were reports that growth in Britain's technology industry was the slowest it had been since 2015 and $35 billion in IT projects had stalled because of Brexit uncertainty.

Investment is the backbone of the technology industry, without it startups can't thrive and SMBs can't grow. Brexit, unfortunately, has seen a lot of that investment funnelled away from a promising British tech scene and it has Edwards worried.

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