Nick Freer takes a look at the next wave of Scottish tech superstars taking part in EIE17 and their advice to new start-ups.
The findings of the inaugural ‘The Scottish Start-up Survey’ are released next week, taking the closest ever look at Scotland’s tech start-up community, and the main take-away is that opportunities and challenges exist in something not too far off equal measure.
Five of our brightest young start-ups – MindMate, UrbanTide, Amiqus, Pixey and Beezer – will be on show with 55 others at next Thursday’s EIE17 at the EICC, pitching to investors from the UK and across the globe in order to build networks and, potentially, secure funding to further their growth ambitions.
MindMate, co-founded by four non-UK nationals (relevant in Brexit times and another major theme of ‘The Scottish Start-up Survey’) and headquartered in Glasgow, is arguably the pick of the bunch. The team, led by CEO and co-founder Susanne Mitschke, develop apps to combat Alzheimer’s and Dementia, and was the first ever Scottish start-up chosen to join the highly rated Techstars accelerator programme in New York last year. Not bad going for a start-up which only officially launched in 2016.
The app already has 350,000 users and continues to penetrate the US, the world’s largest healthcare market. Susanne Mitschke says: “The great thing with EIE is that we are all going through the same journey and the pool of experience you get through the EIE community is truly amazing.”
Another female founder, Sarah Stenhouse at Pixey, a marketing platform that helps businesses to harness the power of user-generated content on Instagram, has her sights set on team building, opening up new international markets and raising the funds to make this possible.
Stenhouse, currently based at the Entrepreneurial Hub at RBS Gogarburn, says: “One of the biggest struggles with a tech business is how to distil all the technical detail down to a one minute overview to pitch to investors. It may sound like a small thing, but it’s so important. The EIE team has helped me reduce a year or two of hard work into a digestible one minute pitch.”
Amiqus Resolution, led by CEO and founder Callum Murray, has developed its first product – Amiqus ID – aimed at making civil justice more accessible. Murray and team are helping firms prepare for new international anti-money laundering and data protection regulations, a hot topic for UK plc and, in a sign of how highly rated this start-up is, former Standard Life chief Sir Sandy Crombie recently became Amiqus’s chairman.
It’s a good example of how bringing industry experience into early stage companies is increasingly on trend in start-up world – something that was evidenced last year when veterans of the Scottish business scene, George Elliot and Neil Heywood, helped guide virtual reality start-up Two Big Ears to its eventual sale to Facebook.
UrbanTide, a start-up headquartered at CodeBase in Edinburgh, is building its profile and reputation in the area of smart cities and advised Glasgow around its smart cities programme in 2012. Since then, the team led by CEO Pippa Gardner has delivered open data training to over 70 different UK public bodies and has just launched its USMART data platform to help organisations make data more reusable.
Gardner, who will be delivering one of the extended pitches at EIE17, gives some insight into the size of a fast-developing marketplace: “Ninety per cent of the world’s data was created in the last two years and all this valuable data is an asset in its own right. But it is rarely reused beyond its original purpose and is often locked in silos.”
Gardner looks ahead to a time when, “our humble lamp-posts no longer just shine a light but can also monitor noise, movement and air quality”.
Last but not least, Beezer is a groundbreaking new Software as a Service (SaaS) platform that bypasses app stores and allows SMEs to create, distribute and manage mobile apps without the prohibitive costs usually associated with app development. Founder and CEO, Brian Smillie, has an entrepreneurial track record having sold a digital media business in Asia-Pacific and when the Informatics Ventures team took a handful of Scottish start-ups to EIE London last year at the world renowned NOAH investor event, Smillie’s Beezer pitch came out on top against UK-wide competition.
Next up, Smillie takes his award-winning pitch to Berlin for NOAH’s international investor event later this year. He says: “Support for new start-ups is essential and EIE has been a fantastic support.”
Fortunately, we don’t have to go to Berlin to hear Smillie, Beezer and all the other start-up pitches as the excitement builds with a week to go until EIE17.
EIE17 takes place at the EICC on Thursday, May 11.