What it’s like founding a start-up in Scotland

When Andrew Dobbie quit his job in 2012, he had a two-week old baby and £1000 in the bank. Since then, his brand-led digital marketing agency Made Brave has grown to accommodate 30 staff offering a full service agency working for clients in Scotland and beyond.

The can-do attitude of the start-up culture has made waves across the Scottish tech industry, with support centres and organisations helping would-be entrepreneurs take the important next-step in turning a dream job into a reality.

Scotland has a rich and diverse technology culture spanning gaming, cloud computing and social networking. The Technation 2016 report cites a 129% increase in Dundee’s digital growth turnover between 2010-14 and Edinburgh saw an average 26% increase in digital technology salaries in the same period.

The Made Brave founder singles out the support network for new Scottish businesses as the biggest contributing factor to the new wave of tech start-ups.

“We have a really strong ecosystem here in Scotland,” says Andrew.

“Organisations that support Scottish businesses like Scottish Enterprise, E-Spark, Power of Youth who all do a really great job of helping young start-up businesses get on their way.”

Andrew admits the biggest challenge for any new start-up is that initial leap – leaving a job when you have a secure wage and you’ve got bills to pay at home can seem like a scary thing,” he says.

“If you’re passionate about something and you’ve willing to go that extra mile anything is possible.”

In the colourful offices of Made Brave, the founder is keen that any one of his staff’s idea can be made into a moneymaker. The agency keeps ahead by following their creative instincts and building a capable roster of staff, on the belief that “iron sharpens iron”.

He says: “We try and encourage a culture where anyone’s idea can be the best idea, so it’s not always about the most creative people in the business having the best ideas – sometimes your job as a creative person is pulling an idea from someone else.”

Having made the perilous leap from a secure wage to starting a profitable business, Andrew Dobbie has good advice on offer to any young future CEOs with a good idea and a little patience.

“Be brave,” he says, “be authentic and don’t be afraid to be yourself. If you’re authentic and you don’t imitate, you have no competition.”

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