From left - Jackie Waring and Leah Hutcheon
From left - Jackie Waring and Leah Hutcheon

Virgin StartUp launches search for Scotland’s leading startups

Virgin StartUp has launched ‘Virgin Startup10: Scotland', its inaugural search for Scotland’s startup Business of the Year. 

Virgin Startup10: Scotland is open to startup businesses and entrepreneurs, and will offer ‘startup can’t buy prizes’ including mentoring and support from a leading Scottish law firm. 

The top ten finalists will be shortlisted in February and recognised as Virgin StartUp’s 10 Scottish ambassadors. The overall winner will be revealed at an awards ceremony in March and will receive a mentoring session from each member of the all-star judging panel which comprises a mix of Scottish entrepreneurs.

Paul WheelhouseScottish Government Minister for Business Innovation and Energy, who has thrown his support behind the competition, said: “Scotland has a proud tradition of entrepreneurship, and today we have the highest number of registered businesses recorded in Scotland since records began – an impressive achievement which is largely driven by the success of our small business start-ups.

“This is a trend that we would like to see continue and I am delighted that Virgin Start Up continue to contribute so positively to entrepreneurship in Scotland – identifying best practice among start-ups helps communicate that practice to other new businesses, helping to ensure they survive and thrive.  

“This competition and Virgin Start Up’s commitment to Unlocking Ambition shows the faith towards realising the potential of our nation’s entrepreneurial talent.”

Virgin Startup10: Scotland is being sponsored by BDO which supports businesses at all stages of the lifecycle from early stage start-ups to those looking for growth funding.

Judging the process is four of Scotland’s most renowned entrepreneurs, who will also mentor the overall winner as part of the ‘money can’t buy’ prizes on offer to all ten finalists. They are: 

·        Jackie Waring – the founder & CEO of Investing Women and leader of Scotland’s only all-female business angel group 
·        Leah Hutcheon – the founder and CEO of Appointedd, an Edinburgh-based tech company revolutionising the way bookings are made online 
·        Bob Kieller CBE – Chairman of Scottish Enterprise 
·        Cally Russell, Founder and CEO of Mallzee, the UK’s leading multi-retailer shopping app 

Leah Hutcheon, Founder and CEO of Appointedd, said: “I am delighted to have been asked to judge the competition. Being an entrepreneur myself I know how vital it is to have a support system around you so for a start-up company to be in with a chance of winning exclusive mentoring is fantastic – a massive good luck to all those who enter!” 

Jackie Waring, the founder & CEO of Investing Women, added: “As judges for the first ever ‘Virgin Startup10: Scotland’ competition, we want to help find those entrepreneurs who have a real effect on Scottish communities, via the creation of new jobs, and contributing to the Scottish economy. 

“I’m looking forward to meeting everyone and seeing what they bring to the table.” 

Launched in England in 2012, Virgin StartUp is the not-for-profit arm of the Virgin Group spearheading the Group’s entrepreneurial philosophy. They provide Government backed loans between £500 and £25,000 to entrepreneurs who work with the VSU team to build robust business plans. As well as finances VSU also recognises the importance of guiding business owners through their infancy years and matches them with a specific business mentor local to them, there are over 700 of these mentors available.

Virgin StartUp launched in Scotland in 2016 and recently celebrated its first anniversary in the country; during that time it has supported 46 businesses with loans and mentoring, but the not-for-profit has ambitions to fund more entrepreneurs than this. 

Andrew Hutchison, Head of Strategy VSU said: “We want to showcase that running your own business is achievable for anyone, regardless of age, education or upbringing. It’s all about having the passion and belief that will help you keep going through advertsity, which is something we’ve all experienced in business. 

“We’re looking for businesses with a strong thirst for innovation, who want to disrupt their chosen fields. Our hope is that this search will act as a springboard for new businesses across Scotland for many years to come.”