What do startups want from the EU referendum?

On Thursday 23rd June, the UK will see a referendum to decide whether we should stay in the European Union, or leave. It’s a huge decision, one that’s provoking heated debate across the country, and one that affects everybody.

Whether you're a huge business or one just starting out, what could change for you? And with both sides presenting their arguments and making their points, what decision is ultimately best for UK startups? We asked Richard Reed, founder of Innocent Drinks, as well as three of our Virgin StartUp ambassadors, for their views.

Richard Reed, founder of Innocent Drinks and Jam Jar Investments

Richard Reed is one of the nation’s best-known entrepreneurial heroes, and also the Deputy Chair of Britain Stronger in Europe. Unsurprisingly then, he’s an outspoken proponent of staying in the EU. He believes staying in is the best for startups - here's why.

"Being part of the EU is a massive opportunity for UK entrepreneurs.  The EU is the biggest market in the world and gives every UK small business the ability to sell to 500 million consumers rather than just the 65 million in the UK.  I know from direct experience the benefits of being part of the EU.  Seventeen years ago I started a business from a market stall, and now that business exports to 17 countries within the EU.  And while over half of the products we sell, we sell into the EU, over 80% of the jobs we’ve created are here in the UK.

"Time and again surveys of business people have shown that employers large and small want Britain to remain in Europe. This is because leaving puts all the benefits of being in Europe at risk, with less market access, tariffs on trade, and zero influence over trade rules we would be forced to follow. Coming out will mean jobs go down and prices up, and that’s no good for anyone. There is no credible business case for Britain walking away from our largest trading partner."

Richard’s verdict: In

Oli Hawkins, co-founder of G2 Brewing

Oli Hawkins is the co-founder of G2 Brewing, a microbrewery based in Kent.

“I have always been very pro-European - I think the benefits of being part of something bigger than what we are and having the chance to work with people from all over the continent can be nothing but positive. Of course the EU has its issues, but I feel saying we are not playing anymore because the game doesn’t suit us perfectly makes us look a little spoilt. The fact is, if the EU is strong then so is Britain, and I believe we can do more in the EU to make it suit us than we can do out.”

Oli’s verdict: In

Matt Doyle, co-founder of Launchcloud

Matt Doyle is the co-founder of Launchcloud, an innovative software company that provides businesses with a smarter way to capture and analyse offline and online data.

“I believe we need EU reform, and if the reforms that the Prime Minister has outlined can be achieved in a sensible time scale then we should stay in. But if his reforms are delayed, or outright overruled but the European High Court, then we should make strong plans to remove ourselves.”

Matt’s verdict: Reform or out

Suzanne Noble, founder of Frugl

Suzanne Noble is the founder of app Frugl, a marketplace showcasing the best things to do in London for under £10.

“I'm for staying. The EU has provided the UK with funding for tech startups, provided the ability for talent to live and work here, and opportunities to export easily. As we know the Start Up Loans are part-funded with EU money so, for an entirely selfish reason, I'd like us to remain in the EU!”

Suzanne’s verdict: In

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