Leah Hutcheon: Capital city offers start-up ventures an excellent base

Anyone who was paying attention at school will know that Scotland has always had a strong innovative streak. And a short walk around the National Museum of Scotland will show you just how much Scots have given us over the years: from the television and the telephone, to penicillin and tarmac. And it turns out that the Scottish capital is still doing the country proud in the world of technology and entrepreneurship.
Scotland has a track record of innovation - and much of that is proudly on display in the National Museum of ScotlandScotland has a track record of innovation - and much of that is proudly on display in the National Museum of Scotland
Scotland has a track record of innovation - and much of that is proudly on display in the National Museum of Scotland

Recently, the Great British Entrepreneur Awards bestowed the title of Entrepreneurial City of the Year on our capital city, confirming what we have long felt to be true. Appointedd, the business I’m privileged to run, is proud to call itself an Edinburgh-born company, taking our first steps in this very city in 2011.

Edinburgh is undeniably a hotbed of startups and entrepreneurship, with 2016 seeing the creation of 6,635 new startups here, as well as big names like Skyscanner and FanDuel calling the city home. But what exactly makes the Scottish capital such a fantastic place to start a business?

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Perhaps Edinburgh’s strong start-up community has something to do with it. With groups such as Entrepreneurial Scotland and ESpark, Edinburgh offers great opportunities for budding entrepreneurs to not just connect with their peers, but to benefit from mentorship and support. Tech Meetup is another great example of the networking potential that starting a business in Edinburgh can offer, while technology startup ‘incubator’ CodeBase represents another arm of the community spirit within the Edinburgh tech start-up sphere.

As well as camaraderie and, in some cases, emotional support, Edinburgh also boasts a variety of financial support opportunities for new businesses: Appointedd as we know it really got off the ground largely thanks to winning one of the first ever Scottish Edge investment rounds, and since then we have won investment from Equity Gap and Investing Women’s AccelerateHER. In the past there has been a perception that to establish a UK start-up anywhere outside London automatically puts you at a disadvantage when it comes to getting a foot in the door to the global arena. That simply isn’t true anymore, particularly for web-based companies whose cloud-based products are not bound to any physical location. Appointedd is the perfect example of how possible it is to export globally from right here in Scotland, thanks to the technology we now have at our fingertips. Without even having to leave the city, tools such as Skype, Zoom, and our own advanced cross-timezone abilities, have allowed this Scottish start-up to establish major deals with multinationals such as ABCN and AEVI, taking our product worldwide from right here in Auld Reekie.

So, although London still tops the UK charts for startups per capita, maybe it is Edinburgh that is uniquely positioned to provide an alternative to the Big Smoke. Away from the intense competition of London - which is valuable, but maybe not the only way to get the best out of British entrepreneurship - Edinburgh start-ups have more space to grow, and more opportunities to find their feet and take root.

Appointedd owes much to the Scottish capital and the cultivating environment it has for tech start-ups. The opportunities it provides have enabled us to develop and hone our product with talented people from all over the world. The community and infrastructure of the city has been there to help us expand and grow.

Leah Hutcheon is founder and CEO of online booking specialist Appointedd