Expert Insights: Finding your feet in the UK with Atulya Mittal

Atulya Mittal is the Partnership Lead for the United Kingdom at Rainmaking Expand, and has a wealth of experience in the UK market. As an entrepreneur and innovator, Atulya has an impressive background and is passionate about shaping new ideas and technologies into relevant partnerships.

In this article, Atulya shares his advice for companies looking to enter the UK market, highlights some of the key trends and how to differentiate yourself when entering the UK. As a Partnership Lead, Atulya works closely with companies looking to enter the UK via the Rainmaking Expand: United Kingdom programme.

Hello, my name is Atulya Mittal and at heart I am an entrepreneur and innovator. I grew up in India but after my schooling in Mumbai, I had the opportunity to live in New York, Boston and now London for the last 7 years.

I love shaping new ideas, innovations and technology into relevant partnerships and models that can be applied into the world around us. Consequently, I also get to work with dynamic and highly motivated people – entrepreneurs, investors and innovators – who are keen to move the world in a new direction.

The thing I love most about my experience is that I have had the chance to work across multiple geographies and industries in various roles. I find tremendous value in pollinating ideas from one geography or industry to another.

Why the UK is attractive to international Startups and SMEs

For companies who are exploring their next market to enter, the UK provides some excellent opportunities. The UK is a fantastic platform for companies looking to showcase what they have built.

When considering expansion into the UK I think some of the things to consider are the following:

Global recognition for quality:

The UK is well recognised for nurturing companies that launch world-class products and services. DeepMind and ARM are examples of two UK homegrown companies that have managed to find relevance in global markets, including the US, and attract investors from all over the world, including Japan.

Launchpad for international expansion:

Companies that gain traction in the UK have been able to expand globally, attracting customers and capital. 82% of the revenues of the FTSE100, an index of 100 companies compiled by the Financial Times, came from international markets and this has gone up over the last 10 years. Startups often use the UK as a proving ground before expanding into markets like the US and Europe.

Supportive ecosystem:

Capital, talent and customers are widely available in the UK. The VC ecosystem is thriving with local and international funds eager to support the UK market. There is a large talent pool available locally and the UK government has created various startup and technology-oriented visa programmes to attract the world’s best talent.

The government has also created a number of grants to accelerate the development and scaling up of technology into products through “Innovate UK”.

Lastly, the UK has a large set of consumers that are excited about new products and innovations and are an invaluable resource for feedback and validation.

Through the Rainmaking Expand programme, we can help companies navigate challenges at multiple levels and offer our own expertise and support to enable their success in-market.

Trending Industries within the UK

One area that we support startups and SMEs with is connecting them to our broader network within the UK, identifying key potential partners and advisors to identify potential commercial engagements and take your next steps to signing a deal.

Although there is a wide range of opportunities in nearly every sector within the UK, some key industries that have gained notable traction as of late are:


Digitisation and Artificial Intelligence is still a big theme that is relevant. With the rise of new GPT models we are in unprecedented territory and companies are trying to figure out how best to leverage this ground breaking technology into their business and service models. Startups and SMEs can help larger companies navigate this brand new opportunity space.


The carbon crisis is one of the biggest threats and opportunities of this generation. This is a wide space that encompasses anything from carbon monitoring to energy conservation and new ways of processing materials. The carbon tax that came into effect in the EU in December 2021 will spur companies to invest more in carbon reducing technology.

Energy Transition

The energy transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy creates opportunities for every part of the energy value chain — from how we create energy, to how we distribute it and how we use it. Renewable energy presents challenges in distribution as it is weather (wind and solar) dependent. Grids have to change their basic infrastructure and the software that manages the grids also has to account for this. Similarly, electric motors and all allied components are a massive opportunity as millions of EVs come to the roads in the coming decades. These high-level themes present many challenges and opportunities.

Food and Food Service

This is one of the largest service industries in the UK and with changing supply chains and changing labour availability, there is a need for more effective food supply chain and service models. Opportunities in this space are very wide reaching, and the market often turns to new innovative solutions from around the world to address key industry challenges.

These are just a selection of some trending industries within the UK, but is certainly not the only sectors with opportunities available. It is important to focus not only on the trends, but also on what makes your company unique in order to stand out in the UK market and generate traction.

How to standout and be unique in the UK

The UK is a large market, and is the 2nd largest startup ecosystem in the world, this means that although the opportunities are massive, there is a large importance for differentiating and standing out in the market.

There are a number of companies that are trying to be too similar to each other, often targeting the problem statement, and not focusing on how they are differentiating themselves from their competitors. It is important to map the competition and stay relevant in the market without losing what it is that makes your company unique.

Some ways to navigate this and identify how to stay unique in the UK market is as follows:

  1. A basic value chain analysis is always helpful to understand where your business sits in the context of the overall industry. This helps companies differentiate early on between their customers, their suppliers and their competitors.
  2. Within the competition, doing a deep dive into the top 5-10 startups is useful in identifying the parameters of competition. This doesn’t necessarily mean a deep dive into each and every feature of your competitors’ products but instead gain an understanding of the positioning each of your competitors occupy. In the situation that it is a fragmented market with a large number of competitors, each with small market share, then it is helpful to group competitors into various buckets based on their positioning, similarity and then deep dive into a few.
  3. The simplest output from this competitive landscape study is to identify 2-3 high impact parameters where you can showcase your difference.

To illustrate the above points, let’s take the example of a fictionalised AI Startup called “Intelligent AI” (iAI). AI is a “hot” industry with a large number of competitive companies.

  1. To help understand the competitive landscape the first thing we would do is identify where we sit in the value chain. iAI makes software that helps manage AI models and explain them. They are not in the consumer-facing part of the industry but enable creators of consumer-facing AI to improve their products. Thus, understanding who the customer is helps clarify how iAI should position their marketing efforts.
  2. The next step is to see who else offers similar services. In this case, it turns out that even though the AI industry is filled with companies, very few actually provide this service and so “iAI” has found a niche in the market. There are many companies who gather and generate data set models and a large number of companies making customer-facing AI systems but none of these compete with “iAI” in providing tools to optimise models.
  3. Apart from the niche product offering, iAI also provides data scientists support for free for a certain number of hours to their customers. Therefore, with their niche product and their personal customer support “iAI” has identified two high impact parameters on which to differentiate itself.

This exercise can be very helpful for companies who are looking to expand into new markets, and can help identify how best to position themselves in the UK. Once you are ready and at the stage to begin your market entry journey, companies looking to expand to the UK would be able to leverage the unique and tailored approach offered via the Rainmaking Expand programme. Applications are open all year round, and I look forward to working with you when you are ready to enter the UK.

Interested in scaling your business to new markets?

Rainmaking Expand is for growth stage startups & SMEs looking to accelerate market entry into multiple locations, focusing on business development and leveraging genuine commercial opportunities. Our Rainmaking Expand framework aims to accelerate companies’ speed to market while de-risking market expansion.

Our programmes are accepting applications on a rolling basis. Explore our current markets available and apply now:


Written by
Atulya Mittal
February 21, 2023
Partnerships Lead, Rainmaking Expand: United Kingdom

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