Sir Tom Hunter doubles up on 'pre-scaler' business support amid soaring demand

Sir Tom Hunter is doubling up on the support he is offering to fledgling businesses amid “unprecedented” demand.

The Pre-Scaler programme launched by the Hunter Foundation and Scottish Edge has seen demand so high that two cohort programmes will now be run as opposed to the one originally envisaged. Some 40 companies from across Scotland, split into two cohorts, will now participate in the initiative, wholly funded by the Hunter Foundation, that will see entrepreneurs go through a combination of an online and in-person development programme aimed at accelerating their growth and ability to then move to scale.

The programme will kick off with a core module on fundraising, valuation and cost of capital, then complemented with modules on people planning, leadership, sales and marketing. Board and governance training will be delivered by established Hunter Foundation ScaleUp programme partners including David Sole’s School for CEOs.

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Ayrshire-born entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir Tom said: “When we launched this we did wonder if a gap existed in provision in support of potentially scaling early stage businesses and we got the answer. Scaling businesses moves the economic dial and the fact our judges deem 40 companies with that potential is incredibly positive for Scotland. Indeed those that didn’t qualify this time were either too early stage or pre-revenue but showed real promise and we hope to welcome them back in future. As a philanthropy we are happy to step in where gaps exist as we have done with our scale-up programmes.”

The programme will be hosted at the Hunter Foundation’s headquarters. Originally up to 20 pre-scaling businesses were to be selected for the first cohort by four judges, Chris van der Kuyl, principal of Chroma Ventures; Ana Stewart, partner at EOS Advisory; Evelyn McDonald, chief executive of Scottish edge; and Ewan Hunter, chief executive of the Hunter Foundation. Participating entrepreneurs can expect to commit up to five days in total to the programme starting in May and concluding in September, when they will have the option to pitch to a panel of potential investors.

Stewart said: “The quality and depth of ideas from these businesses was very impressive and we see real potential for many of them to go to scale. As highlighted in my recent independent report, we must create clear pathways that connect the dots for our early-stage entrepreneurs to help them navigate through their journey to growth and this pre-scaler programme does just that. Also, I’m delighted to see that 35 per cent of applications were from female-led entrepreneurial businesses with 50 per cent qualifying for the programme. This underpins my own analysis that we need to provide more support and enable the ambition of those businesses in a far more proactive manner.”

McDonald noted that about 50 per cent of the applications for the enlarged programme came from Scottish Edge winners looking to take the next step forward in their business journey. She added: “Being an entrepreneur is often a lonely business and core to this programme will be peer-to-peer learning and support, precisely what’s often needed for businesses on a growth trajectory.”



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