🏗️ Founder blindness, Rockets in Sutherland, AI for Grandma's Memoir
Here's your weekly Scottish Startup Campfire.
Funding news from SMPNet, Gravitricity, Dyneval; awards for VR Hive and Recast, and we'll say hello to Nikki Gibson who'd like everyone to get into SWURFing thank you very much.
But first, one of the most common missteps that early stage founders make: capital blindness.
🏗️ Do you know what kind of company you're building?
By Robert Gelb
Scotland has a lot of ‘startup stuff’ going on. That’s good on one level: lots of opportunities to connect, get feedback, meet people, and hang with a group of people who have some sense of what you're going through.
It’s also a problem. Ecosystem programmes, resources, and investment strategies are often developed by people without relevant experience in building early stage startups. This leads often to bad advice, mismatched investor relationships, and lots of noise and distractions that celebrate and encourage the wrong things. It presents a one-size-fits all approaches to the entire sector, and ironically, gives too many funding/support opportunities to zombie companies that haven't proved it in the market.
One misstep I often see when meeting founders is a lack of clarity about what scale of business they want to create, and what capital needs that business requires. “Every investor is relevant, all money is helpful, I just need to raise raise raise, then voila I’ll be a unicorn.” Be honest: have you felt that at some point? I know I have.
But it’s a big problem, and one we need to understand and be better at answering to ourselves as founders. We are too eager to give away ownership to anyone who takes a fancy to us, regardless of need, fit, or terms. All for what? Validation? Desperation?
If you need a bit of funding to get to profitability and then expect to run a sustainable business, you do not need nor should you be trying to position yourself as a unicorn-in-waiting. Valuation, for example, isn't as big an issue. You have a responsibility to understand the different expectations and motivations of different types of investors. Power venture isn’t the same as growth or regional VC. Tax efficiency as a primary motivation will affect the risk profile and return expectations.
Success is not based on a single metric. A quick case-study to prove the point in the wonderful world of task management: Asana vs Todoist. Both are task and project management products, both are used by teams. Asana has raised $450m over more than 7 rounds, is a publicly traded company, and is making a loss, while Todoist is entirely bootstrapped, profitable, and unencumbered by investor pressure. They took $40k. And it was a grant.
Which is more successful? What does success even mean for you? We might disagree, and that's perfectly okay. In fact, that's the point.
Disagree with anything you see here? Tell us and we’ll share your response.
👵 Scotland/San Francisco-based Storii just launched an AI biography writing tool that helps a person craft their life memoir over the phone (Campfire readers get a discount found below!). More info here. CI
👏 The Scotland Start-Up awards were announced and saw 24 business awarded for their success - half of which were female-owned. The overall winner was immersive learning platform VR Hive. View the full list 👉 IN
👩🎨 Social Investment Scotland & Creative Scotland are launching the CultureXcelerator Programme providing free one-to-one strategic business support to 8 ‘ambitious cultural and creative leaders’. Application info here. SBN
🏛️ Edinburgh has been named by Beauhurst as the Best City for startups in the UK outside of London. Out of 702 high-growth companies, 20.6% have at least 1 female founder, and AI, fintech and digital security sectors make up 12.8% of the ecosystem. BST
🙏 Asks & Offers
👵 Have a parent or grandparent who you’d love to preserve a memoir from? Get 20% off Storii’s AI Biography Rewrite Tool by using using code CAMPFIRE here. Also available on Amazon in the UK and it's prime-available.
💰 An Angel investor event in Glasgow in May is welcoming applications for founders who are interested in pitching. More info about the event can be found here. 👉 Reply here with a deck or website if interested
👩🏫 A group of founders who aren’t satisfied with the current offering in Scotland for power-venture investor readiness are thinking about running a week-long sprint, specifically targeting companies who want to understand how to run international power-venture investment rounds, without the bs. 👉 I’m interested
🎓 Useful finds
🤖 Jelle Prins has a great thread on twitter looking at some (potential) inside baseball (purported google leak) when it comes to how incumbents are poised to lose out with conversational AI.
🎥 Want to create high-quality videos but don’t have the editing experience? Pictory uses AI to create short social videos from content in minutes.
🖼️ When looking for pitch deck inspiration, it’s easy to find the not-so-useful decks from Uber, Airbnb, etc. What about companies who’ve recently raised and who are earlier stage? The Pitch team has a great set of templates from startups at different stages.
👋 A few questions with Nikki Gibson, Founder of SWURF
Technology that helps remote workers find welcoming spaces to work from.
How did you get involved?
20+ career in Hospitality, most latterly running an events company for 13 years, Naked Events, Covid devastated the industry and with that my events business. Uncertain of the future, I saw an opportunity to help drive a new audience to venues supporting footfall and revenues at the same time as encouraging people to come together and connect, away from the isolation that can come with working from home.
What's the problem you're solving?
A new era of work, people enjoying the freedom and flexibility to work where they work best but with that happening so fast, a missing infrastructure of tools to support.
For remote workers, a growing concern for mental health and loneliness bought about from the disconnection of the office and of teams.
For hospitality venues, reduced footfall and revenues.
What's your solution?
Technology that enables easy search and discovery of spaces that welcome remote workers to work from and introduce exclusive promotions to encourage footfall.
Through further development Swurf will enable remote workers to connect to one another and build new communities.
We have already started this connection through in person co-working meet ups.
What current alternatives exist?
Local knowledge of where they already know and feel comfortable.
New platforms emerging that require subscription but we want everyone to be able to discover, and have access to welcoming spaces which is why our App is Free for users.
What does good look like in this space?
A thriving happy connected community.
What do you need help with?
Download the App and start Swurfing! Swurf started in Edinburgh but you can now Swurf in Glasgow, Leeds and soon, Manchester & Newcastle.
How should folks get in touch?
📅 Events & deadlines
🇬🇧 Upcoming Innovate UK deadlines:
Automotive Transformation Fund Scale up Readiness Validation 2Applications close 11 May
Feasibility studies for Artificial Intelligence solutions Applications close 24 May
Analysis for Innovators (A4I) Round 10 – Stage 1 Applications close 24 May
Net Zero Heat: Design Engineering Innovation Lab Applications close 31 May
Innovate UK Smart Grant: Jan 2023 Applications close 14 June
🛎️ 09/05, 🗺️ Glasgow: Strathclyde Inspire100: Showcase event featuring six Strathclyde-led companies pitch their businesses to an audience of entrepreneurs, investors and experts to compete for a share of £17,500 prize funding. MORE INFO
☕ 09/05 09:30 🌍 Virtual: Scottish Women in Business: May virtual coffee meetup. Connect, Communicate and Collaborate with other smart, successful women in business. Open networking event is for any woman in business. MORE INFO
📯 09/05 11:00 🌍 Virtual: The Essential Guide for International Marketeers Learn the key principles of digital marketing and how to develop results-focused essential skills to grow your international business. MORE INFO
👩💻 10/05, 🗺️ Edinburgh: European Co-working Day. Co-work for free at The Melting Pot for the day. There will also be a lunch and an afterparty to connect. MORE INFO
🙏 11/05 09:30 🗺️ Edinburgh: Workshop: How to get the most out of your team. Learn about coaching and how it can benefit how you work with your team. MORE INFO
💻 11/05 11:00 🌍 Virtual: Email Marketing Tools To Enhance Your International E-Commerce Discover how you can better connect with your customers using email marketing tools with entrepreneur Ben Leonard. MORE INFO
🤝 11/05 13:20 🌍 Virtual: Hello :) A friendly virtual hangout for all startups based in Scotland: come say hello and meet people. If you're a founder, or working for a startup, this is the place to come connect with your peers across Scotland. MORE INFO
🤝 11/05 16:00 🗺️ Aberdeen: ETZ Supply Chain Networking (Digital & Energy Mash up). Food, drinks, networking with energy companies, local tech companies, and digital specialists. MORE INFO
🤝 11/05 16:00 🗺️ Edinburgh: CMX Connect Relaunch - Unconference Style. Calling all community builders in Scotland: come along to meet your peers where you get to decide the agenda - what is most pressing for you? Hosted by 2 of Spotify's community team. MORE INFO
🔒 15/05, 18:00 🗺️ Edinburgh: Cloud Native and Kubernetes Edinburgh. CNKEDI's May event will have a very practical security theme, with talks from Adrian Mouat and Matt Jarvis. MORE INFO
🎯 15/05 🤖 Edinburgh University's AI Accelerator's next cohort applications are open until EOD 15 May. MORE INFO
❓16/05, 12:00 🗺️ Oban: Techscaler Information Drop-In Session. Interested to know more about Techscaler? Join for an informal drop-in session. MORE INFO
👩🏿💻 16/05 17:00 🗺️ Aberdeen: Black Founder Accelerator Roadshow - Aberdeen: Panel discussion and resource session. MORE INFO
🧐 17/05, 17:15 🗺️ Edinburgh: Barclays & CodeBase Edinburgh's Monthly Quiz. Bringing together the CodeBase and Edinburgh community for a bit of fun MORE INFO
📜 17/05, 11:00 🗺️ Edinburgh: Startup Leadership Workshop: Series A Legals. The terms attached to every £ you raise can have a huge impact on your growth, exit plans and day-to-day. MORE INFO
✈️ 17/05, 18:00 🗺️ Glasgow: Connecting Communities and Collaborators. Join the Traveltech for Scotland team, industry partners and guest speakers for an evening of networking and conversation MORE INFO
💰 17/05, 18:30 🗺️ Glasgow: Wealth By Innovation Glasgow Event. Networking, pitching, and talks bringing together startups, investors, and industry leaders. MORE INFO
🤓 18/05, 15:00 🗺️ Edinburgh: Lawtech UK | CodeBase & Legal Geek Launch Event. anyone interested in learning more about LawtechUK. Whether you’re a startup founder, legal professional, investor, government, student, or academic–everyone is welcome! MORE INFO
🇨🇳 22/05, 10:00 🗺️ Glasgow: Succeeding in China: How to Mitigate Intellectual Property Risk. The session is suitable for companies from all sectors and of all sizes seeking to explore a range of opportunities in China. MORE INFO
⛓️ 22/05, 17:00 🗺️ Edinburgh: Monthly Scottish Blockchain Meetup. Speakers announced soon. MORE INFO
🎯 31/05 🧠 The Great British Entrepreneur Awards nominations are open and close on the 31st of May 2023. MORE INFO
🎯15/06 🧱 Product Builder programme from Barclays Eagles Labs: online programme to teach how to develop a digital product and then test, validate and evolve it using customer feedback. MORE INFO
🎯 20/06 📱 KPMG has opened submissions for Tech Innovator in the UK 2023. Initial heat will take place on 20 June to find a shortlist of innovators representing Scotland. Finalists UK-wide will be announced at Web Summit 2023 in Lisbon. MORE INFO
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That’s all for this week - have a great one!