New Unsung Hero survey shines spotlight on 'magic that happens' to help early-stage Scots start-ups
Nearly 80 qualifying submissions presented a “patchwork of a community rich in advice, time, and bandwidth” in the study organised by The Scottish Founders Survey, an independent project. Individuals from Scottish Enterprise, TuringFest, Startup Grind, FutureX, Dechomai, Energy Technology Partnership, Scottish Business Network, CodeBase, Geovation Scotland, among others, were acknowledged for their advice, support and openness to help founders succeed.
Bayile Adeoti, founder of Glasgow-based social enterprise Dechomai, received multiple nominations highlighting her advice to minority entrepreneurs throughout the UK. She and her team were praised for "giving the community of black women an opportunity to believe in themselves and encourage them to start meaningful businesses."
Veronica Ferguson (The University of Edinburgh) was described as "working tirelessly to ensure that companies coming from [the University] are given the support they need to succeed" while Katy Guthrie (University of Edinburgh & Data-Driven Entrepreneurship’s AI Accelerator) "has designed and runs the accelerator in a way in which makes it almost like a living breathing support system for the companies in it”.
Key themes highlighted included down-to-earth advice. Julie Grieve, founder of hospitality-focused tech firm Criton, was recognised as "super smart and generous with her time – always a great person to bounce things around with" while Paul Crookshanks (Scottish Enterprise) is "one of the people who understands what's helpful (and also what's just a distraction)”.
The professional services sector was also well-represented in responses, lauded for “warmth, empathy, and understanding”, with individuals from Shepherd & Wedderburn, MBM, Burness Paul, Murray Associates, Steedman Accountants singled out. Stephen Gibbens (Accountech) was branded an "accounting engine/superstar who has been quietly running a significant portion of the top early-stage technology business in Edinburgh for the last [roughly] 20 years" while Alisdair Gunn from Framewire was praised for "quietly working away supporting early-stage founders without the [commonplace] bravado”.
Additionally, several investors ranging from independent angels to individuals from Investing Women and others were recognised. Aidan MacMillan from Par Equity was praised for being "smart, hardworking and supportive" while Calum Forsyth (Techstart Ventures) provides "a kind ear, expert guidance and multiple high-value introductions”.
Fellow entrepreneurs found themselves in the spotlight, for example Colin Hewitt (of fintech Float) is "always happy to share insights and knowledge in a candid and open way", while Cameron Graham (StoriiCare) has been "very helpful and always supportive towards companies seeking advice in starting up in the US".
Robert Gelb, serial founder, start-up advisor, and the survey author, said: “It’s been really wonderful to see the generosity of time and expertise that ecosystem advocates, investors and fellow entrepreneurs provide to start-up founders, often going above and beyond without the recognition they deserve. We hope to highlight some of the magic that happens within our vibrant ecosystem, and acknowledge some of those who help founders thrive.
“In Scotland especially, it’s not common to see such an outpouring of supportive reflections about individuals, especially in a professional setting, and seeing the quotations, directly from founders in the report is a great way to bring a bit of positivity to finish the year.”
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