TVSquared points the way - Chris van der Kuyl

The Scottish data analytics company TVSquared was acquired last week by the US-listed company Innovid, an advertising delivery and measurement platform for the world’s largest brands.

Chris van der Kuyl
Chris van der Kuyl

In a decade, TVSquared has grown from a germ of an idea into a global leader in media measurement and attribution. Its 150 employees, more than half of whom are in Edinburgh, are now a vital part of a multinational group with huge ambitions.

Reaching TVSquared’s stage and level of success is rare and deserves to be recognised. A key character in the tale thus far is chief executive Calum Smeaton, a world-class technology entrepreneur who has repeatedly proven his abilities and a willingness to bear risk.

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Telling and re-telling the stories of business leaders like Calum – saluting their successes and respecting their failures – is critical in cultivating an environment where creative entrepreneurialism can flourish.

Much has already been done to make Scotland a place where businesses like TVSquared can thrive. TVSquared was one of the first recipients of a Scottish Edge award, which allowed us to focus on the US as a breakout market. But we must do much more to ensure national strategies for education and economic growth secure both a pipeline of human talent and opportunities for those individuals and teams to flourish.

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There is more than sufficient capital in the world to invest in great ideas. Indeed, one benefit of last week’s deal is that money has been returned to serial investors and will unquestionably be redeployed in other promising high-growth businesses in Scotland.

That requires homegrown talent supplemented by the best brains from overseas. We will only attract the latter if we produce the former in sufficient quantities and encourage them to stay here by creating conditions in which they can advance brilliant concepts and grow innovative businesses.

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TVSquared boasts a fantastic team of engineers, designers and product specialists here, who were a massive part of the appeal to Innovid. Those people will benefit from working with their new colleagues in the US and beyond.

They will spark off one another and invent new ways of doing things. Knowledge will be acquired, shared, and applied over and again. Being part of the journey, some of those people may, in time, put their experience to use in developing new ideas in a different niche or another sector altogether. It is a virtuous circle, but it relies fundamentally on talent, creativity and ambition.

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Scotland has a blend of technical talent, execution, and creativity which is incredibly hard to replicate. It makes me excited to wake up every day here. There’s nowhere else in the world that marries technical and creative endeavours the way we do.

Until we view the nurturing of that talent as something our society has collective responsibility for – and a vested interest in – Scotland will not repeat the success of TVSquared as regularly as we should.

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Our investment in talent must begin at birth and reflect a sustained effort in our schools, colleges and world-class universities, as well as the less formal – but no less formative – extra-curricular creative and team building opportunities.

Chris van der Kuyl CBE, Principal, Chroma Ventures

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