Gavin Bell: Three reasons why Scotland’s a great place for start-ups

Gavin Bell, founder of social media agency Blue Cliff Media
Gavin Bell, founder of social media agency Blue Cliff Media
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As a business owner, I’ve been able to see at first hand why so many people love this country.

I launched my digital marketing agency in June 2015 and since then have grown to see why Scotland is such an amazing place to start a business. There is, what I feel to be, a “start-up culture” emerging, similar to Silicon Valley over in the States. 

When it comes to industry and innovation, Scotland has always led the way. We’ve always punched above our weight. Some even say Scotland invented the modern world. Pretty good for a country of only 5.3 million people. Penicillin, television, the Higgs Boson, telephone – you name it, chances are we had something to do with it.

With this sort of positivity and culture, it’s no surprise that Scotland is becoming a hotbed for tech companies and start-ups. Here are three reasons I think it’s an incredibly exciting time to start a business in Scotland:

Start-up culture

As I mentioned above, there is a start-up culture brewing. Take Edinburgh, for example. There is a growing tech and start-up scene, with the likes of CodeBase – it’s the largest technology incubator in the UK and houses more than 60 of the leading tech start-ups in the country. 

We have the likes of Rockstar North (creator of Grand Theft Auto), Skyscanner and FanDuel all within a few miles of each other. There are huge tech businesses literally within walking distance of each other. 

READ MORE: Finding Scotland’s next tech ‘unicorns’

My digital marketing agency is based at CodeBase; the connections and support I’ve had have been amazing. Never have I experienced anything like it. The energy, the synergy is amazing. So many people working towards the same common goal: to grow their business.

Who knows, could Edinburgh become the next Silicon Valley? It certainly feels like it could be going that way.

Close-knit community

Another reason Scotland is such an exciting place is because of how close-knit we really are as a country. The population’s a little more than five million and I’ve found that you’re only one or two people away from someone. 

In business you often hear the phrase “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” and I think that rings true. If you do a good job for someone, word soon gets around. 

I grew up in the Shetland Islands and I thought the whole “everyone knows everyone” thing was something that only happened on the small islands, but turns out it’s the same across Scotland to an extent.

Support

Lastly, the support network in Scotland is huge. The business community has always been supportive of smaller businesses and entrepreneurs, but I’ve found that in Scotland we take it to a whole new level. There are lots of different organisations that offer mentoring too. The likes of Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Chambers of Commerce offer mentor-matching services that can be hugely valuable. 

There’s no doubt, it’s an incredibly exciting time to start a business in Scotland. The opportunity is there. Anyone who is thinking about doing their own thing should do it. Ride this start-up culture wave and you never know – your idea could be the next big thing.

• Gavin Bell is the founder of social media agency Blue Cliff Media