Scaling internationally – The Daily Scaleup with Kim McAllister

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I’m like the queen – I never carry cash.

I pay for my parking with an app, I buy nearly everything online with PayPal and in shops I put everything on a card. Even my son’s school lets me pay for school trips and milk online.

I actually get really annoyed when I need cash – the corner shop charges a fee for transactions under £10, for example. How outdated is that?

We’re definitely heading towards a cashless society – and one of the Scottish businesses helping this happen is QPal. Designed for use during live events, it uses an e-wallet topup functionality (fancy name: NFC card synchronisation) allowing data to be passed along appropriately from customer to vendor banks. Fraud is kept to a minimum with a one-off, encrypted signature.

Craig Buchan founded the company early last year.

“Being sole-founder led to a significant workload challenge in the early days… but that was all part of the fun,” he told me. “Having people not move at the same 100mph pace as I wanted to move was frustrating early on, I soon found ways to combat and remedy the disconnect.”

He was driven to solve a specific problem – long queues and missing the key parts of the events – so looked for help along the way.

“We had a number of layers of support in the early days,” he said. “From Elevator who took us under their wing as part of their Accelerator Program, to Scottish Enterprise, who helped us with some grant funding. We were also part of their ‘Start Global’ Accelerator Program.

Critically, I formed an advisory board around Qpal. I’m always surprised how few startups do this. Surround yourself with experienced and connected folk across domains where your expertise doesn’t lie and you’ll do great things together.”

His biggest lesson?

“Only bring people onto the team who understand your vision, fit into the company culture and are passionate about the problem we’re trying to solve,” he said.

QPal has now launched in the UAE and has grown to five members of staff.

“We are committed to launching our solution into the UAE market for a number of reasons,” he said “The smartphone penetration rate in the UAE is amongst the best in the world, there is a rapidly emerging appetite for FinTech solutions that help fight against cash transactions and the commercial partnership opportunities we’ve unearthed will allow us much quicker growth than back home in the UK, enabling us to transform the industry for the better, faster.”

Do you have a story about scaling your business? Drop me a line kim@impactonline.co.uk

Kim McAllister is a Journalist & Communications Consultant and director of Impact Online

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