Comment: Mergers and funding mean a busy week for business

At the Aberdeen Standard Investments Gender Summit last week in Edinburgh, a mix of prominent figures from business, politics and sport gathered to discuss how to shift the dial from the local golf club to the boardroom when it comes to gender balance and pay.

Nick Freer: 'Two of the nation's most fancied start-ups announced bumper funding rounds'. Picture: Stewart Attwood.
Nick Freer: 'Two of the nation's most fancied start-ups announced bumper funding rounds'. Picture: Stewart Attwood.

While a highlight for many was a fireside chat with Nicola Sturgeon and Judy Murray, with an amusing aside when broadcaster Sarah Smith asked if Sturgeon and Murray would like to swap jobs, one of the real nuggets of wisdom came from US Ladies Professional Golf Association Commissioner Mike Whan.

Whan, in town for the Ladies Scottish Open at Gullane, said that while many senior male executives don’t set out to resist gender equality, it’s unquestionably the case that this continues to be the reality across too many organisations. Whan’s eureka moment came when he realised that if your leadership team doesn’t look like your customer base, you’re likely to hamstring your chances of success.

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Actress and comedian Elaine C. Smith tickled the ribs as the collective moved post-summit to Edinburgh Castle for drinks and canapés, where corporate high-fliers like Anneli Ritari-Stewart of Dentsu Aegis, Catriona Watt of Anderson Strathern and a largely female contingent outnumbered a still healthy minority of the less fairer of the sexes. However, when Smith joked about locking the doors of the Great Hall and stripping the men in the room naked, I decided it was an opportune time to make a sharp exit.

Getting creative

Last week saw an outbreak of merger and acquisition activity on Scotland’s creative agency scene. Aforementioned Dentsu, a global media giant headquartered in Tokyo, hit the headlines as it announced it had snapped up highly-rated Edinburgh agency outfit Whitespace. As an erstwhile client, it was nice to see such a newsworthy exit come off for Iain Valentine and his so-called “Whitespacers”.

Arguably, MadeBrave is Glasgow’s nearest equivalent to Whitespace in Edinburgh and last week we supported the Andrew Dobbie-founded agency around its acquisition of Leith-based Campfire. Campfire specialises in creative, high-quality film production and counts Mercedes-Benz, Adidas, Google and VisitScotland among its client base. With Generation Z spending more time on smartphones than all other devices combined and favouring short, bite-sized content on social media, the MadeBrave-Campfire tie-up looks like a shrewd move.


As reported across the business and tech press within the space of a few days last week, two of the nation’s most fancied start-ups, both in the healthtech space, announced bumper funding rounds that put both companies in a stronger position to scale while tackling what are nothing short of massive societal problems.

Care Sourcer, developers of an innovative solution in the beleaguered care sector which matches care seekers with the right providers, raised £8.5 million from high profile investors in the form of Legal & General and Accelerated Digital Ventures (ADV), and is increasingly seen as a good bet for Scotland’s next unicorn. Co-founders Andrew McGinley and Andrew Parfery are former health industry executives who added executive clout with former director of engineering at FanDuel, Graham Jones, joining last year and, more recently, former Skyscanner COO Mark Logan.

On Thursday, Christopher McCann-founded Snap40 revealed it had raised just over £6m, again from ADV and a group of private investors including Skyscanner co-founder and chair, Gareth Williams. Care Sourcer and Snap40 truly deserve their “businesses for good” tag and on a personal level, I’ve been privileged to advise both during their journeys to date.

Nick Freer, director, Freer Consultancy and Full Circle Partners