How does being a scaleup in Scotland compare to the rest of the UK?
Well, one UK tech accelerator, Ignite, was in Edinburgh for the first time last week, so I asked programme director Gabi Matic what she thought.
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“It’s funny because my own company, MindMate, started in Glasgow, but we had to move to Newcastle to get the right funding,” she said.
“In the last two years things have really changed. We got a lot of support in Glasgow but we reached a stage where we needed investment to scale and we struggled to find a good fit. Now, there are some really exciting businesses in Scotland. It just shows me more than ever the need to not just focus on London. There are so many great businesses all over the UK.”
Ignite is an early-stage investor which accepts applications on a rolling basis and then invites successful applicants to their “offsite” events where they spend two days in workshops and mentoring programmes.
“We also interviewed 14 people to hear more about their businesses,” Gabi told me. “There was one we are very keen on and several more we’ll keep a close eye on.”
The networking element of Ignite is held in high regard – in Edinburgh several companies who passed through the programme four years ago were invited back to share experiences.
The participants enjoyed workshops on topics like Analytics for Startups, building a great founding team and PR for startups. They also had the chance to ask frank questions of Matt Lanham from Geckolabs, who shared his business journey.
Mentors like Cally Russell from Mallzee, Colin Hewitt from Floatapp, Martin Lind from Senient and Jon Bradford and Christian Arno of Lingo24 provided the afternoon sessions.
Read more about Cally Russell – [insert page=’mallzee-now-downloaded-million-times’ display=’link’]
Companies who are selected after the offsite events receive £25,000 of investment, a six month mentoring and support package and access to a network of founders and investors.
“Ignite is like a non-exec director for these companies,” Gabi explained. “Our investment helps them scale and lets them build their company where and how they want it. There are a lot of exciting companies coming through.”