Ignore the hype around Start up’s, Scale up’s are the place to be! It’s a bold statement, but it’s where I’m starting. Let me explain why.

The tech world loves nothing better to wax lyrical about a start-up. The positives have been well documented; the autonomy, the fast pace, the variety in the job role, those early successes, the feeling of flying by the seat of your pants. What a buzz!

Tech professionals are leaving established brands and mature businesses to join start-ups in droves. They’re swayed by the potential to be part of a business they can make more impact, dreaming of the journey to tech unicorn status, the potential to leave a real legacy, perhaps even the desire to earn handsomely, walk away and retire into the sunset with a dream well and truly achieved.

All sounds amazing right? It’s enough to make you giddy! But a cautionary note potential doesn’t guarantee success. Time for the harsh reality on tech start-ups:

  • 60% of start-ups fail inside the first 3 years.
  • 20% of business don’t make it past 12 months!
  • According to The Growth Institute only 1 in 200 start-ups ever becomes a scale up.


I hate to say it especially as a Co-founder of a start-up business myself the odds are stacked against us! It goes without saying joining a start-up is a risky game and not for the feint hearted.

So what’s the alternative for those who can’t tolerate the “we’ve always done it this way” culture of a mature business but don’t want to play career roulette on a risky start up??

Join a scale-up!

Scale-ups opportunities are highly valued, these types of businesses who have not only survived the pandemic but thrived. The Deloitte scale up program is estimated to create 150,000 new jobs by 2024. Put another way it has the potential for an extra 225 billion pounds for the UK.

Here’s my top 5 reasons on why scale ups are the place to be!

  1. The winning formula – for the best scale ups it’s an indication they’ve already validated their product or services in the marketplace. These businesses are economically sound and looking to develop into dominant market leaders.


  1. Expertise – The variety of job role in start ups can often feel overwhelming. In comparison scale up’s will tend to hire expertise that doesn’t exist within the business. so you’ll have a much more defined role, less internal blockers and more structure to work with.


  1. Culture – Many scale up’s tend to feel much more confident and comfortable in their own skin. They’ll now be striving to work more efficiently but whilst still maintain the camaraderie and flexibility of a start up.


  1. Progression and Financial reward – Share options, greater financial rewards and opportunity for more team members to progress quicker. The linear and flat people charts in a start up gives way to a more structured hierarchy which suits top performers.


  1. Access to company leaders –Joining a scale up will almost certainly see you working in tandem with inspiring leaders of the businesses. These interactions are a great sell to new employers, a way to learn from the best, pick up advice and insights.


The scale-up v start-up debate has split opinion amongst respondents of my own poll this with 51% of respondents preferring scale ups. Are there downsides to working in a Scale-up? of course! More on that in next weeks blog!

I’d love to know what you love and find challenging about working for and in a scale-up too!

This article was written by Alex Hall, Co-Founder and JavaScript Partner at Digital 51. Do you agree with Alex that Scale-Up is the place to be? Or is it?! Reach him on to discuss further.