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News

Opening up Scotland’s scaleup conversation

Now that the Scottish Government has published the ambitious National Strategy for Economic Transformation it is time for all stakeholders to work together to turn ambitions into action. When confronted by a challenge most of us are hardwired to act quickly, now might be the moment, however, to actually pause, listen and reflect on what is needed if Scotland really wants an economy that will deliver on a triple bottom line.  

One of the most important set of voices we must hear is that of the leaders of the scaling  firms which will be the powerhouse of future economic transformation in Scotland. It is these businesses that will do the heavy lifting, translating policy into performance, innovating to create net zero solutions, opening opportunities to build a just and equal society. The leaders of these firms are, however, busy people, they work in many diverse sectors, they are located across all parts of Scotland. 

By running a series of Discovery workshops with 50 leaders from these scaling firms and their support ecosystems, we have made this task of listening easy. A summary report that communicates the significance of these businesses and the needs of their founders and leaders has just been published through the Scotland Can Do initiative.

It is clear that the scaleup agenda must be prioritised in Scotland to deliver improved access to talent, markets, investment and know-how. The report details how those doing the heavy lifting want to see this happen. To deliver real change this won’t be about pursuing business as usual, everybody in the support ecosystem needs to acknowledge a step change is needed. Colleges & Universities need to deliver on the real skills needs of scaling firms: Why does no Scottish University have a Professor of Sales? Why is there such a gap in digital skills within the Scottish workforce? Networks of peer-to-peer learning are needed, scaling firms are at the cutting edge of whatever they are doing, they want advice and insights from near peers, those who have just tackled a similar challenge, but does current signposting and networking support this? Collaboration across silos is needed, over compartmentalising a relatively small economy doesn’t open up Scotland’s cross-sector innovation potential. Scotland’s takes a relatively public sector heavy approach, is this significant investment of taxpayer’s money acting as a catalyst by procuring in innovative ways? Is everybody in the ecosystem working to build a clear brand in the minds of potential investors who are increasingly located outside Scotland? 

If Scotland listens carefully to these voices, it has an opportunity to develop actions that will really deliver on the ambitions of the National Strategy for Economic Transformation. Take 20 minutes out of your day to read the report and reflect on the voices of scaling firms before you suggest an action that might seem logical but simply promotes the status quo.  

Read the full Scaleup Report here.

Want to learn a bit more about about the report or submit any feedback? We would love to hear from you. Contact us: hello@cando.scot

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News

Raising Partners Live: Funding in Focus – Hybrid Conference set to empower start-up industry with inclusivity and incredible opportunities

Raising Partners Live: Funding in Focus, the latest hybrid conference, is coming to Glasgow next week, which gives young businesses the ability to pitch their companies to the panel of VC’s and gain invaluable feedback. The day-long conference commences on Tuesday 10th May and will focus on everything that’s needed when it comes to raising investment. With limited free tickets available, attendees will hear from an array of world-class speakers, take part in practical workshops, meet investors, and even have the chance to pitch business ideas to the professionals.

Founded in 2017, Raising Partners was created to bring a much-needed specialism to the notoriously hard to crack investment world. Raising Partners offers first-class support and investment through strategy series and angel investment syndicates. As experts in early-stage investment, Raising Partners collaborates with clients to establish a solid investment strategy. This support also gives clients the opportunity to be introduced to relevant investors and gives them the confidence to execute funding campaigns successfully. The work of Raising Partners creates a level playing field for businesses, from Pre-seeds to Series- B, by de-mystifying the investment landscape.

Raising Partners Live: Funding in Focus will allow Entrepreneurs to gain essential skills to raise their next round of funding and learn from founders as they share their fundraising success stories and here from an investor panel, including Edward Keelan (Investment Principal of Octopus Ventures), Avent Bezuidenhout (Head of Investment of Earth Capital) and Julien Callede (Co-Founder of Made.com). Attendees will also get the chance to meet with fellow entrepreneurs and investors, which is an excellent opportunity to share ideas, connect and gain confidence in the environment.

Creating inclusive spaces for entrepreneurs, start-ups, and scale-ups, is such an integral role in maintaining and nourishing the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Opportunities such as Raising Partners Live: Funding in Focus, is also a huge building block for Scottish businesses, as they can change the entire trajectory of the companies. 

Managing Director of Raising Partners, Helena Murphy, says:

Raising Partners Live is the event I wish had existed for me when I first raised investment for my ecommerce business 10 years ago. I’m thrilled to be able to bring together a room of world-class investors, experts and entrepreneurs to deliver inspiring, practical and action-orientated content in my home city of Glasgow. 

Ticket holders will be able to attend the event online or in person, and will have the choice of participating either workshops or watching online bonus sessions which will include:

  • 3 Fundamentals of Getting Investor Ready
  • A Practical Guide to Raising Your Seed Round
  • Raising your Next £1m+ from a VC
  • From Seed to Series A – A Tactical Guide.

Raising Partners Live: Funding in Focus takes place on Tuesday 10th May, from 09:15-17:00 at the Technology and Innovation Centre in Glasgow.

To find out more about the Raising Partners Live: Funding in Focus conference, and to secure your ticket, visit their site.

Categories
Blogs

Hybrid Working: Re-writing the Norms of Office life

The newfound popularity of hybrid working could be argued as a ‘happy accident’ to many people in Scotland and across the globe since the pandemic hit.

A recent study by the Timewise Scottish has found that 27% of roles advertised in 2021 mentioned flexible working options. This comes from the previous year having 25% and pre pandemic years 19%.

This proves that flexible working is seen, by both employers and employees, as an attractive and safe attribute to a job role. So what could hybrid working look like in the long run, and how, and more importantly, where, do we work?

It can be hard to guide others in the right direction when it comes to working space and flexibility, especially when you may already have a preference to something yourself. We hope to open the realms of hybrid working possibilities to you, in which should, in turn, help guide others to the best working options for their company.

What really is Hybrid working?

So, you would think that after the time we have spent working from home, whilst slowly trying to integrate back into the office again, that we would know what hybrid working is… but do we?

The term ‘hybrid working’ could be considered as different to every company: whether it is hybrid working hours, location, or both. The trouble with defining hybrid working is that ironically, it is such a varied working model, so much so that it can vary week to week for an individual. And that is arguably the beauty of it – hybrid working lends itself to flexibility.  

Hybrid working is an active step towards flexibility; and that level, or type, can vary from company to company.

Keeping options open

One of the wonderful things about hybrid-working is that you have options. And plenty of them. So much so in fact that it can get quite overwhelming. What is the right choice to make? What if this doesn’t work out?

But the possibilities are endless, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all of them are right for everyone. It is important to make sure that the right choices are made; either for yourself or a company you are supporting. Often, trial and error is the best method in which to do that. But if you are pushed for time, already decided or not even sure where to go from here, flexibility is, and always will be, key for success.

A way to dip the toes of many companies into the pool of working environments, is to suggest trying co-working spaces. A simple search of ‘coworking spaces in Scotland’ can bring up a lot more spaces across the country than you would think. From hot desks to meeting spaces, co-working spaces boast flexibility and many offer an extensive variety of membership packages, to meet every need.

Helen Denny, Strategic Innovation Lead for co-working space, The Melting Pot Edinburgh, states:

“The way we work has changed forever, with a growing shift away from the traditional 9-to-5 working week. The pandemic has only accelerated this change with recent research  showing that 84% of Scottish workers have or want flexibility, of this percentage a further 69% would like more flex, this includes control over where, when and how they work. There are many reason why people want flex including; caring responsibilities, a better work-life balance to improving wellbeing. For employers who offer hybrid and flexible working the impact has been positive, leading to an increase in productivity, employee retention to a better work-life balance across the business. However implementing hybrid and flexible working which meets the needs both of the individual and the business doesn’t come without its challenges. Research shows that the benefits far out way the challenges.”

Still unsure?

If you are still feeling apprehensive about navigating through all the possibilities of working environments for the long-term,  you are not alone. With the uncertainty from the last few years, it would only make sense that most will still be uncomfortable when it comes to transitioning back to a ‘new normal’.

The Can Do Collective have teamed up with The Melting Pot Edinburgh to bring our partners a workshop all about hybrid-working. This will also give Collective members the chance to use and explore The Melting Pot’s facilities.

Helen Denny notes:

In our facilitated conversation on the 27th April, we will explore some of the common challenges that employers have faced, solutions and dig into why hybrid / flexible working is core to the future of work.”

The Hybrid Workshop, facilitated by Helen Denny, will be an excellent opportunity for guests to:

– Look at inclusion and proximity biases

– Delve into the challenges and opportunities of hybrid working

– Be provided with insightful tips and tools to help you on your journey

The Hybrid workshop and Collective social will take place on the 27th, with three main activities taking place: An opportunity to use The Melting Pot’s co-working space, a facilitated Hybrid Workshop, and a Collective Social event. Members can choose whether they want to attend for the full day, or just certain activities.

Find out more about the Hybrid Workshop and Collective Social.

Interested in joining the Collective and taking part in our events? Learn how you can join us.

Additional Sources

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/hybrid-working-revolution-has-already-happened-for-scots-gv63frn3m

Categories
Case Studies News

Startup Grind Edinburgh take cohort to the Silicon Valley

As part of the Scottish Government’s Technology Ecosystem Fund, Startup Grind Scotland will take 20 Founders from across the country for an immersive week in San Francisco and Silicon Valley in April. 

The cohort will enjoy a week immersed in the entrepreneurship mecca, complemented by meetings with investors and visits with global tech companies including Alchemist Accelerator, Salesforce, User Testing and Nvidia.

The team have designed the programme using Agile Methodologies in their evenings, weekends and around their family responsibilities, day jobs in tech startups, (Caro Melendez at WelcoMe, Dec McGlaughlin and Nick Murray at Frog Systems) and studies (Anna Brow, Strategic Comms Masters Candidate at QMU). 

The Can Do Collective caught up with the Startup Grind Scotland team and some of the partners that have helped bring this ambitious venture to fruition. 

How did the idea for this programme come about?

Dec McLaughlin, Startup Grind Scotland Director:

“We saw the news of the funding and knew we wanted to throw our hat in the ring. We’ve been hosting monthly fireside chats and panel discussions throughout the pandemic and lockdown, and have really brought an excellent community together. We wanted to do something bold that could support founders beyond of the education and inspiration they get from our events”

The Scottish Government launched the Technology Ecosystem Fund following the 2020 Logan Report, an independent review of the Scottish technology ecosystem. The report, led by former Skyscanner COO Mark Logan, provided recommendations on developing a world-class technology sector, calling for greater investment in activities that assist peer learning, networking and more connected, community-led initiatives to support entrepreneurs in Scotland.

Nick Murray, Startup Grind Scotland Co-Director:

“We read the Logan Review and saw Mark was advocating to get Scottish leaders out of their comfort zones and their respective geographical bubbles. He spoke about the need to inspire entrepreneurs at international conferences, take best practice from world-leading accelerators and globally-recognised scaleups, and put them on the radar of US tech investors. Dec and I had been out to San Francisco in early 2020, and we knew that a group trip based around the Startup Grind Global Conference could tick all those boxes”

Support from within the entrepreneurial ecosystem

Once funding had been secured, the entrepreneurship community opened applications from technology startup founders and c-suite executives from across Scotland. The group were inundated with responses and closed after just 18 days with 178 applications from technology startups and scaleups from 26 locations across Scotland. The final cohort was selected with the help of an independent judging panel, comprised of Collective members Evelyn McDonald (Scottish EDGE), Dr. Poonam Malik (Strathclyde University) and Stephanie Anderson (Scottish Enterprise).

Nick; “I knew that when it came down to the selection process, we needed expert support. As a longtime Collective member, I went straight to the relationships that I had forged there. I knew these three were experienced at reviewing and qualifying applications for pitching competitions like Scottish EDGE and that they would likely know many of the businesses so would have a good idea of who could benefit most from the opportunity. The judges were very generous with their time and expertise, and soon we had our final 20.”

The group had attracted attention, not just from founders, but also from other business support organisations from within the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Scottish Development International’s (SDI) Capital Investment Team were monitoring the projects that had received funding and took particular interest in what Startup Grind Scotland were doing.

Elitsa Marinova, Investor Relations Manager at SDI:

“Our department connects international investors with Scotland’s most promising startups. We’re essentially investor-venture matchmakers, so we keep a close eye on what we can do to maximise exposure for high-growth potential businesses. The Tech Ecosystem Fund gave birth to some incredible initiatives across the country, but this one was particularly ambitious. We got in touch with the team to find out more about the plans on the ground in the US and if we could support with VC introductions. We hit it off instantly and proposed to leverage our network in the Bay area so that companies could make the most of their time there. For example, we put together a pitching event where our team and our US-based SDI colleagues, led by Pendy Pendyala, would invite our investor network and give cohort the chance to showcase their businesses and ask for investment”

Pendy Pendyala, Senior Vice President at Scottish Development International;

“At one point I think about four people in my emails trying to introduce me to the Startup Grind Scotland team. I thought, I better see what these guys are doing! My team in San Jose has supported many similar trips to the Valley, but nothing since the pandemic struck, and certainly not with this many people. The San Francisco area is still recovering from the pandemic, but in recent months we’ve seen a real appetite within the business and investor community to get out and socialize. We’ve had numerous international video calls across timezones to ideate and organize different activities for the cohort and I’ve been delighted to open up my network to ensure the team and the cohort get the most out of their time here, both in face time with investors and soaking up the various marvels that the Valley has to offer.”

Making some noise in the US

Across the pond, the project had attracted the attention of GlobalScot and Scottish Business Network President, Ian Houston.

“What struck me was that this initiative came at a key moment. I have used the term SCENTER which means encouraging Scottish businesses across sectors to Enter the world in a creative and bold way. This initiative is doing just that. It affords an opportunity to showcase the power and diversity of Scottish innovation on the grandest scale. As a proud Scot, I knew I wanted to amplify this opportunity whether it be through introductions to Government and Embassy officials here in the states or through the GlobalScot network. The initiative also has reach well beyond the actual physical time that will be spent in Silicon Valley.” 

Pendy and Scotland-based PR consultant Nick Freer have been key in making introductions to US-based establishments and individuals to enrich the programme activities. The cohort will enjoy visits, time and exclusive fireside chats with Nvidia AI, User Testing, Alchemist Accelerator, Werqwise, and numerous international investors and VC groups.

What did you learn when you originally went to SV?

Dec: “When we were out in 2020, it was a gamechanger. We learned to appreciate the importance of immersing ourselves in a different ecosystem, and the near-endless possibilities of what is possible with the right mindset and support. It’s so easy to get caught up in our own little world and forget about the thousands of inspiring companies overseas who are truly pioneers in their space. We learned that who you surround yourself with is critical to success as well as a willingness to take educated risks and believe that you too can outcompete larger organisations and survive in a fierce environment.”

How will this programme impact the participants and their businesses?

Nick said:

“We know the trip will bring inspiration and professional opportunities. The conference is an incredible two-day event that takes over the whole of downtown Redwood City. We’re expecting around 3000 people to be there. The talks, workshops, exhibitors and networking will be a truly immersive experience and we’ve tried to ensure our cohort’s elevator pitches aren’t too rusty after 2 years at home and on Zoom!”

We’re also being very considered and intentional about the dynamic of the cohort. We have a truly diverse group of people from all walks of life, and encouraging trust, openness and fostering peer relationships within the group will be a strong focus of our activities. We have co-designed workshops with Laura Westring from Amiqus who has experience facilitating cohort connection exercises overseas with FutureX. If we never have the chance to do something like this again, at least we know that these founders will have this shared experience, and more importantly, will have each other for support as they navigate their business journeys.”

Dec: “The key focus for us is ensuring that the trip provides a long-lasting legacy that will live on far beyond the seven days that we are in San Francisco. One of the most exciting potential outcomes personally is the peer-to-peer relationships that will be forged along the way. There’s something powerful about the idea of such a diverse set of founders and leaders becoming not only friends but mentors and mentees to each other.

We believe that the cohort will return to Scotland inspired by the opportunities that Silicon Valley has to offer and that they will spread this optimism and self-confidence to fellow founders in the ecosystem. For the participants, their businesses will benefit from world-leading advice from a variety of topics from fundraising to hiring a team and scaling. The possibilities really are endless.”

What the cohort are looking forward to

Sheila Hogan, CEO of Biscuit Tin Planning said;

“For me, it’s about connections all the way; potential partners, investors, peers, collaborators, friends, learning, growth, support, brand awareness and so much more. Having just closed our first round of investment, this cohort is perfect timing and an amazing opportunity to sow the seeds for our global plans and next round of investment scheduled within the next 12 months.”

Hannah Mercer, Founder and Director, DragonflAI

“I am looking to learn from others who have made the successful leap from ‘interesting start-up’ to a scale-up and viable business. People really drive both DragonflAI, and me personally, and I think being surrounded by either knowledgable or eager to learn people, will be invaluable for our business. It is rare that location, opportunity and people fall together in the same place, and I would really appreciate the opportunity to push our business to the next level, and bring the knowledge back to Scotland.”

Thomas Gillan, CFO at BR-DGE said

“We plan to enter North America later in 2022, so getting more hands-on experience on the ground and the opportunity to grow our partner base will be extremely helpful. I’m excited to connect with a global range of stakeholders, from leaders of other tech businesses to investors and payments related companies ahead of our Series B round.”

Wendy Lamin, Managing Director at Holoxica said

“I want to learn from the best in Silicon Valley and from my cohort peers, avoid mistakes others made, network like crazy, pique the interest of others with a view on collaboration or investment and accelerate our growth internationally.”

Roy Hotrabhvanon, CEO at PlayerData said

“PlayerData is looking to continue to build its network within the States in preparation for a US market launch in Q4 2022. I’m keen to learn from the heart of the world’s startup ecosystem, form new connections and share our experience with other founders to give back to the community.”

Jodie Sinclair, Founder and CEO of Theo Health said:

“I founded this company during the pandemic and so networking has been carried out almost completely virtual. Being amongst an atmosphere of visionaries, innovative thinkers and highly-driven entrepreneurs would be an experience that would be invaluable for the continued journey and growth of Theo Health, and also as a motivational and inspirational boost for myself as an individual.”

Find out more about Startup Grind on their website.

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Blogs News

Welcome Q+A with Janet Robertson, EQFM

New Can Do Partner, Janet Robertson, European Foundation for Quality Management (EQFM), joins us to discuss her role within the organisation and her attraction to collaborative communities…

Hi Janet, welcome to Can Do! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?:

I’m Northern Ireland born, long-time Edinburgh based.  Like many folk, both are “home”.  My background is in Housing gradually transitioning to Business Improvement.  I’ve been with EFQM, the European Foundation for Quality Management, since April 2021.  My role is focussed on developing the EFQM community in Scotland, supporting organisations across sectors and of any size, to perform better.  I’ve been working with the EFQM Model myself, since about 2010, when I introduced it in the organisation I was working with at the time, to make sense of all the performance and improvement activity we were undertaking.  So I know it works!  Since then I’ve had the privilege of being a trainer, and also an assessor for organisations going through EFQM Recognition.  There are always opportunities to learn by sharing, and I want to continue to help organisations to do that.

EFQM is hosting an event in Edinburgh on Thursday 24th March 2022, and we are looking forward to welcoming new faces as well as EFQM members, colleagues and friends.  If you are curious, you can find out more and book here.

About EFQM?

EFQM helps organisations perform better.

We are powered by the EFQM Model, a globally – recognised framework for organisational change and performance improvement.  We create data-driven insights backed up by industry experts, to fit your priorities, your purpose, and your people.

Through our integrated and carefully designed portfolio of products and services, we work side by side with leaders as they manage cultural change and digital transformation to deliver positive performance and meaningful benefits for all their key stakeholders.

EFQM works with a broad and diverse number of organisations, locally and globally, and across sectors, from large multinationals to small and mid-sized companies, supporting them through Training, Insight and Recognition.

What motivated you to become a Scotland Can Do Partner?

I’m drawn to communities that believe in sharing – with a common Purpose, through collaboration, we can achieve much more and do it better.

How do you contribute to the Scotland Can Do ambition; for Scotland to be the most entrepreneurial and innovative society for all?

In an increasingly complex world, I think people and organisations have to continually challenge themselves, to reflect with purpose and structure, on what they are doing and how well they are doing it.  That applies to innovation and transformation as much as to incremental change.  The EFQM Model framework helps organisations to do that in a holistic way, with a shared language, more conscious of the impacts that changes in one part of their ecosystem can have on another, or on their stakeholders, for example.

Just for fun… can you tell us your favourite coffee spot and what your got to order is?

I don’t have a favourite coffee spot as I like trying out different places, but the order is usually a double espresso and cake!  I’m especially fond of Cannoli from The Sicilian Pastry Shop in Leith.

If you are interested in the data-driven support that EFQM, then visit their website, or email: Janet.Robertson@efqm.co.uk.

Categories
Blogs News

Scotland Can Do Partners join cohort #2 of Resilient Leadership Catalyst

Resilient Leadership: What we ‘Can Do Collective’-ly

In November 2021, we were delighted to offer 10 Collective partners the opportunity to join the first cohort of the Can Do Resilient Leadership Catalyst, in partnership with Entrepreneurial Scotland and Babson College. This interactive, educational programme was designed for members of the Collective who were ready to use their influence in leadership roles to amplify impact and positively influence their organisations, the entrepreneurial ecosystem and Scotland. The programme takes place across two cohorts – November 2021 and March 2022.

Today, we are pleased to announce that 9 Can Do Collective partners will be joining the second cohort of the Catalyst Resilient Leadership Programme. This programme is an excellent opportunity for our partners to understand and utilise their role as a leader within the entrepreneurial ecosystem and where they can connect and interact with likeminded individuals within the Can Do Collective community.

The fully-funded programme features webinars led by Babson College, where participants are taught the fundamental concepts, methods and tools of resilient leadership; including how to find resilience in your daily routine and build a culture that supports high performing, resilient teams. The cohort are encouraged to deconstruct, apply and embed the learning within their own leadership, unlocking the potential of their organisation and the Collective. Taking place over three months, the Resilient Leadership Catalyst will be a combination of self-guided and structured education, including individual assignments, group work, discussion groups and case studies.

Meet the 2022 Can Do Cohort:

Andrew Barrie, Founder, Community Lab

Janet Black, Director of Operations, Entrepreneurial Scotland Foundation

Jo Chidley, Founder, Beauty Kitchen

Tom Craig, Senior Policy Executive, Scottish Government

Lyndsey Dougan, Geovation Scotland Delivery Lead, Geovation Scotland

Fiona Godsman, SME Strategy Specialist, Board Member, EIT Food/GCC

Susan Harkins, Head Of Innovation & Entrepreneurship, SOSE

Julie Nairn, Membership Officer, Association of Scottish Businesswomen

Michaela Turner, Enterprise Executive, Edinburgh Innovations

We hope that our Collective members enjoy their time over the three months, and it is great to share their excitement:

“I was over the moon to be accepted onto the programme and I am looking forward to being part of a great group of people who also want to learn more and challenge themselves.

Entrepreneurial Leadership is a really interesting subject and being part of this cohort will give me the opportunity to develop my skills in this area, and then share these skills in my role within SOSE.

The link to Babson College is also fantastic, it is the No. 1 school for entrepreneurship in the world for the past 25 years – and sets high expectations for participant engagement.” – Susan Harkins, Head of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, SOSE (2022 participant)

“It was exciting to meet my fellow participants and to learn a bit more about what they do, where they’re at and why exactly they wanted to take part. For myself, I was in entrepreneurship policy for eight years, during which time I got to know Scotland’s entrepreneurial ecosystem VERY well.  Certainly part of my reason for taking part is that I want to maintain that connection, and keep it fresh, so that I can use my network to benefit my current role in advanced manufacturing policy.  And any subsequent roles I may assume.” – Tom Craig, Senior Policy Executive, Scottish Government (2022 Participant)

Are you a leader keen to put collaboration at the heart of entrepreneurship in Scotland? Visit our Partnership page to find out more and join the Collective.