Former Google boss Eric Schmidt has declared Britain the world leader in e-commerce, adding that he can see no reason why £100bn technology start-ups couldn't be founded in the country. The 60-year-old, now executive chairman of Google's parent company Alphabet, said it is the UK's "regulatory environment" and role within Europe that boosted its reputation within the tech sector.
"Britain is the leader in e-commerce in the world, far ahead of the United States," he told Radio 4's Today programme. "Britain has every aspect to build £1bn, £10bn, £100bn companies."
Explaining why conditions in the UK are perfect for technology growth, Schmidt said: "You have the right regulatory environment. You've got the right role within continent. Look at the e-commerce plays and service plays that are now happening in London."
He also outlined why European nations would struggle to compete with Britain in coming years, saying: "Europe is pushing on a European digital single market and in the timeframe of you building a small start-up, the Europeans will figure out a way of building a single digital market for your products." He added there were no barriers to launching "a European-scale corporation that is larger than a US-scale corporation".
He said British technology entrepreneurs could learn a few lessons from America, however, in particular not selling their companies too early and reducing the prospect of them becoming "very, very big" as more commonly happens in America. "If you have a strong franchise that's growing quickly, you're probably better off waiting a while [before selling]," he said.
Schmidt also gave advice to would-be tech entrepreneurs, saying: "The only thing that matters is the product quality." He also said fledgling companies should fully embrace social media in order to reduce spending on marketing and advertising, which will level the playing field with bigger brands. If you have three people and a vision, you should be able to raise funds from friends and family, crowdfunding and early venture groups."
Schmidt did go on to say it was key to keep the actual building of the product in-house, though, adding businesses whose developers have a vested interest tend to do significantly better than those who use third-party designers.