We’re thrilled to have recently expanded our services into Scotland, aiming to encourage more new businesses to start up and thrive. Over the last three years we’ve supported 1,500 business across England, distributing £15 million in Start Up Loan funding. And now we want to continue this with businesses north of the border, carrying on the entrepreneurial tradition of Scotland.
The two first businesses to receive support from us really shows the range and originality of startups in the UK today. Gillian Poskitt, of Aberdeen, received £25,000 to start up her environmentally-friendly bin-cleaning service Bin Bath. And Mohsin Muhammed from Kirkcaldy, a medical student, also received £25,000 to open his sweet subscription service Love Sweets.
“I’m delighted the first Virgin StartUp Scottish businesses have now received funding,” Richard Branson said. “Scotland has always been a place close to my heart – my wife Joan is a proud Glaswegian and my parents are from Edinburgh. I know Scotland is a place where new businesses can thrive, which is why I hope more follow suit and the funding, mentoring and business advice on offer through Virgin StartUp for Scottish entrepreneurs will act as a springboard for new businesses for many years to come.”
To celebrate this, we held a meetup at the Virgin Money Lounge in Edinburgh with Sir Brian Souter (founder of Stagecoach), Gurjit Singh Lalli (founder of TedX Glasgow), and Margaret Coughtrie (co-founder of Investing Women). Here are some of the key takeaways of the evening.
On starting up in Scotland
"Some larger countries have high barriers to import – it’s important to think about this when exporting from Scotland" – Sir Brian Souter
"On the digital front there are exciting things happening in Scotland, & we've always been pretty good at science and biotech" – Sir Brian Souter
"We need to do a lot more to nurture enterprise - but it's nature too. Entrepreneurs take more risks, we need to nurture that" - Sir Brian Souter
On doing good with your business
"Making an impact with your business should be in it's DNA" – Gurjit Singh Lalli
"There is this shift in culture happening, where people are more interested in giving back & doing good" – Margaret Coughtrie
"Whatever your philosophy, it will come through your business at every size, from startup to major organisation" – Margaret Coughtrie
On startup logistics
"You might understand your USP, but you need to know where this stands amongst your competitors" - Margaret Coughtrie
"If pitching for money, know your financials. People might challenge it, but at least you can argue back"- Margaret Coughtrie
"You need to find something you enjoy if you're an entrepreneur, as you'll end up doing it about 120 hours a week" – Gurjit Singh Lalli
"Saving up and putting your own money into your startup proves to investors you're serious about it" - Sir Brian Souter
"Overconfidence can be undesirable, but you need to have that vision - to see the opportunity others don't" - Sir Brian Souter
"Go for it - try, fail fast, be nimble. See what's the tip of the iceberg rather than thinking of what's underneath" - Gurjit Singh Lalli
"Determination is key. An entrepreneur is a person whose heels go in deeper and is more determined to succeed" - Margaret Coughtrie
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