The only way is up for Scotland’s startup scene - Nick Freer

The Scottish Startup Survey launched this week, a survey of Scotland’s fastest-growing early to later stage technology companies. Run by the EIE investor readiness programme team that is now based at the University of Edinburgh’s Bayes Centre, as an agency we have been involved in the survey since its genesis in 2017.

Tech startups sharing insight to help build successful companies
Tech startups sharing insight to help build successful companies

Scottish startup and scale-up founders and CEOs are being quizzed about investor engagement, valuation, growth strategy, commercialisation, internationalisation, economic outlook, Scottish ecosystem support, hiring plans, returning to the office, new ways of working, the wellbeing of their people and, overall, how they are navigating their way out of pandemic times.

The strength of the survey relies on how much engagement we are able to drive, and having a deep, quality sample of startup respondents across the country. As Novosound CEO Dave Hughes put it in our press release: “The results of the startup survey are a great barometer of the Scottish tech ecosystem. It has helped me to navigate our next stage of growth and, as a founder, realise that other founders share many of the same aspirations and concerns.”

It's always good to hear that our annual findings can be used as something of a peer-to-peer learning tool. There’s no point in doing a survey for the sake of doing a survey, we want people from across the tech ecosystem to have valuable takeaways.We were lucky to get the input of Michael Moore, Director General of the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (BVCA), who says: “This is an exciting time to be investing in tech, especially in Scotland. Shared insight is vital to growth companies and their investors across the country - this survey gets right to the heart of the key issues and its findings will be invaluable to all of us.”

Nick Freer Picture by Stewart Attwood

Michael Moore puts his finger on it, “shared insight”. Nobody can build a successful startup in a vacuum. From many of the founders I respect most, it’s a common theme that the shared insight gained when on accelerator programmes, or when visiting other tech hubs, can be game-changing.

When writing for this column last November, Hassan Khajeh-Hosseini, co-founder and CEO of Infracost, described it perfectly: “In the startup world, your network will not only help you in times of stress, but if done right it will act as a catalyst to your company’s success.”

One of the first Scottish companies to secure investment from world-renowned Y-Combinator, Hassan continued: “Our success is tied to the support of the network, and if we had more strong networks like this in Scotland, we would have more successful startups.”

Elsewhere on the tech scene this week, there is a lot of excitement in the air after the ecosystem’s jungle drums sounded out that the Scottish Government is on the cusp of announcing details of the five so-called ‘tech scaler hubs’ around Scotland - hubs aimed at helping hundreds of new startups get off the ground.

The collective hope for Scotland’s startup scene, as per the Yazz and the Plastic Population pop anthem in the Eighties, is that the only way is up!

Nick Freer is the founding director of strategic communications agency the Freer Consultancy

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