Kiltr prepares to seal funding at Scotland Week

Hughes: widening horizons
Hughes: widening horizons
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SCOTTISH social network ­Kiltr is this week expected to seal its fourth round of funding as it prepares to unveil the second version of its website at Scotland Week in New York.

Chief executive Brian Hughes­ told Scotland on Sunday that his firm is on the verge of receiving £500,000 from ­current funders Barwell, Par Equity and the Scottish Investment Bank, as well as some new investors. Hughes said the cash injection will take the firm through to being “cash-flow neutral” this year, ­after which he will begin talks with venture capitalists about raising a “substantial” sum of money.

Hughes­ said: “We’ve had approaches from venture capitals in the UK, Boston, New York and Singapore who are interested in investing in Kiltr. We have 15 full and part-time staff now and we’ll look to take on people later in the year.”

Hughes praised the work done by former S1 Jobs and STV executive Mike Ferguson, who joined in January as business development director.

Hughes outlined details of his plans to turn Kiltr into a fully-fledged business, with revenue streams including advertising, premium profiles and “research and analytics”, which involves carrying out surveys and gathering other information from Kiltr users on behalf of clients.

He also plans to launch “Off-Kiltr”, an events business that Hughes hopes will allow Kiltr users to interact in real life as well as online.

“Kiltr isn’t just about business users, it’s also about social and culture users,” Hughes said. “I hope we can run events in the UK and abroad and team up with government and other public bodies.”

Hughes also plans to grow revenues through CollectivWorks, the part of the business that creates “white-label” ­social networks for clients ­using the same technology that underpins Kiltr.

The company will hold an event in New York on Tuesday as part of Scotland Week to give users a preview of version two of Kiltr, which will have its official launch next month.

Brands including Harris Tweed Hebrides, Linn Music Systems and the Rockness ­music festival are supporting the event in New York, which will also feature photographer David Eustace, fashion label Folk and Glasgow dance venue Sub Club.

Hughes and chief technology officer Stewart Fraser founded Kiltr in 2009 and launched the first version of the website in 2010. In October, the company unveiled a trio of non-executive directors to help its push into overseas markets – former enterprise minister Jim Mather­, Par Equity founder Paul Atkinson, who is chairman, and ex-Real Time Engineering boss Gerry Docherty.

Mather, who has since stepped down from the board, has been an advocate of using the “diaspora”­ – the 40 million people around the world who trace their ancestry to Scotland – to help reach overseas markets. Kiltr has raised about £1.25 million of funding through its three investment rounds.