StartUp Grind: Backing Scottish Entrepreneurs
Consider this, you're an entrepreneur with a great idea and a plan in place, but you have no idea how to implement it. Even more frustratingly, you're at a loss of contacts to speak to for advice.
This is where StartUp Grind Scotland comes in, a community of entrepreneurs who host inspiring and interesting fireside chats across Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen who all share a passion to grow successful businesses. Entrepreneurs from across a myriad of industries come together to hear the war tales of respected entrepreneurial heros to gain a fresh perspective on what they can do with their own early stage businesses.
Here Jane Kennedy and Rebecca Ferguson share their key takeaways from this week's events in Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
Jane Kennedy | Edinburgh
There was an impressive turnout at Monday night’s StartUp Grind event in Edinburgh. Emerging entrepreneurs were all keen to hear CodeBase’s Jamie Coleman share his insights on the burgeoning tech explosion that’s taken place in the city over the last few years.
Located in a former Council building, CodeBase is the largest technology incubator in the UK and one of the fastest growing in Europe, housing around 60 tech product companies who develop disruptive and market changing ideas. Jamie believes that CodeBase’s success is down to a combination of factors; including the skills being developed at Edinburgh University and the wider attractions that the city has to offer to those who choose to live and set up their business here. The goals of the CodeBase team are to drive investment in to tech start-ups and to aid the improvement of digital skills for business to help build and grow the next great tech companies.
Jamie offered some valuable insight to those attending but caveated it by acknowledging that ‘advice is based on nostalgia’. He also reminded the audience that it’s more important to understand the advice than to take it - be mindful of WHO is offering the insight and take note of WHAT they are saying, WHEN they are saying it – and WHY?
Jamie believes that the perfect tech startup team should have three core members – a ‘techie’, an experienced designer and above all a person who can knock doors and sell. He described the linear growth of an SME and compared it to the tech start up graph which is fundamentally different and affects how you start the business. ‘Once you have a company model, you are no longer a start-up’ he declared – ‘start-ups seek and discover, companies execute!’
Jamie also advised the audience to consider carefully their investment partners – angel money is valuable IF it comes with expertise, where investors understand what a tech start looks like AND understand the internet! The lack of diversity of capital in Scotland means that companies have to work hard to attract VC investment. He also concluded until we see more year-upon-year of follow-up venture capital funding, Unicorns in Edinburgh will still remain a rare beast.
Rebecca Ferguson | Aberdeen
The life of a startup entrepreneur can feel very lonely and daunting, which is why Eden Scott is supporting StartUp Grind to nurture the local start-up community; actively educating, inspiring, and connecting founders and potential investors/partners.
Last night we were joined by Professor Gary McEwan of Elevator UK, who shared his successes, failures and pearls of business wisdom. We’re all guilty of thinking that innovation and growth in the Granite City is driven solely by the energy industry, but we would be wrong. Gary estimates that only 15% of new start-ups in the local area are energy businesses, with a huge proportion of new ventures targeting the manufacturing, food & drink/hospitality and medical sectors.
Gary left school at the age of 15 with no qualifications and started his very first business the day after with only £20 in his pocket. He’s now CEO of Elevator UK and now devotes his time to inspiring and nurturing other potential business leaders. He is passionate about the promotion of entrepreneurship and is actively involved in public speaking aimed at young people.
It’s inspiring to hear from someone who can spot a true business opportunity and make it work; Gary rightly said that ideas, passion and enthusiasm can only get you so far – you need to adapt and learn quickly if you want to create a viable business.
Sitting around the amphitheatre in the striking Elevator space at The Hub in Bridge of Don, I was surrounded by like-minded people who all shared one thing in common; their desire to make a difference and learn from people who’ve been successful in business.
There are many business lessons we can learn from people like Professor Gary McEwan; for me, he truly embodies the spirit of an entrepreneur. I personally feel invigorated about the future of our local area and would encourage others to join us for the next event in September to find out more.
As an Entrepreneur Partner to Start-up Grind, Eden Scott is committed to supporting Scotland’s start-up community. The Start-up Grind events are an invaluable resource, allowing entrepreneurs to meet new people, grow their networks and develop new business contacts.
We’re recruiting for fantastic startups across the country at the moment. Find them all on TalentSpark, the hub for tech startup jobs in Scotland.