Forget the doom and gloom, ‘tenacious’ Scottish tech companies are taking their place in global digital markets
Staring down the barrel of a recession while the earth burns and a war rages in Europe, it’s easy to think we are all doomed. But, when it comes to the business landscape in Scotland, I think we have more reasons to be cheerful than we may realise.
I was recently invited to a Scottish Government event where someone made the very salient point that the news is often filled with doom and gloom, and so we come to think the world is. If only we could see more examples of tenacity overcoming the odds, it might give us all the boost that we need to succeed.
The comment reminded me of a conversation I had recently with one of our advisors at Appointedd, a Global Scot who grew up in Scotland and has built amazing success in California. On a recent trip to visit some of the companies he works with, he said that he had forgotten just how negative and pervasive the media was in the UK. “It must be so hard building ambitious companies with that constant backdrop of negativity,” he commented. “How do you keep your teams motivated and believing that it’s possible to succeed against the odds?”.
How indeed? But, it seems, we do. The tenacity of Scottish companies is shining through, and there are many examples of success bubbling away in the wonderful melting pot that is the Scottish startup ecosystem. So I thought I’d share a few here.
DirectID has secured a €9 million investment from Ikea venture arm Ingka Investments. DirectID uses open banking data and predictive models to track credit risks in real-time, providing insights into affordability, income verification, and financial distress. This investment will power an inflection point for the company that has already proven success at scale in an exciting sector.
Cally Russell, from Unfolded, the Edinburgh-based ethical and sustainable slow fashion firm that is revolutionising the fashion industry, turned down investment offers from the Dragons on “Dragons’ Den” for the second time. Almost unheard of, there are only two founders who hold this bizarre accolade, and while Cally said the experience was pretty stressful, he’s not going to be licking his wounds too long, having trebled in size since pitching to the Dragons.
Scottish digital pharmacy startup Phlo has raised £10m in a Series A funding round. Founded in Glasgow in 2019, Phlo provides same-day medication deliveries that patients can track on a smartphone app. The new funding will support the company’s expansion across the UK, but the money itself came mainly from Scotland. The Series A round was led by Scotland-based investment firm Thairm Bio, while additional capital came from Scottish Enterprise and a number of angel investors.
Having been awarded over £3M of Innovate UK funding support, Photon Force are developing next gen single photon sensitive cameras and sensors. The company, which started in 2015, is a team of 10 people powering real scientific advancement, right here in Edinburgh.
Topolytics, a data analytics platform making the world’s waste visible, verifiable and valuable, has raised £1.5m from high-net-worths and UKRI to launch its waste management product. The award-winning company is doing some great work in one of the most important fields of our time, and it’s been done from CodeBase in Edinburgh.
Desana, a leading B2B global hybrid workspace platform, has closed a $7.4m funding round to accelerate global expansion. The platform, which has seen rapid growth since launching in 2019, offers employers on-demand access to workspace in over 600 cities across more than 60 countries.
Graphy, an early stage startup based in Glasgow is racing up the ProductHunt charts with the launch of their Graphy Lite product. An intuitive and beautifully designed platform that transforms data into gorgeous graphs, it’s a handy addition to anyone’s stack of tools.
And, here at Appointedd, we’re pretty proud of our recent successes too. Having launched our multi-language booking tools, we are now powering bookings in 167 countries – 87 per cent of the world – and have signed global brands such as LEGO and Musti to our platform.
So, where did I find out all this great news? Well, it’s all bubbling away on the invisible networks that have been started by the founders themselves. But there’s also some exciting things happening formally.
The first Tech Scaler cohort starts in April – it’s so exciting to see the result of the Scottish Government’s £42m investment into the startup ecosystem really kick into gear. And we also have some fantastic events on the calendar. Turing Fest, which is on June 28-29, will be one of the biggest yet, with keynotes like April Dunford, Bob Moesta, Des Traynor. And the Founders Dinners series, run by the team At Turing Fest are selling out in Edinburgh and Glasgow. I’m also super excited about the new founder-focused news site Campfire, which launches soon.
Would I have started Appointedd without the support of so many amazing peers? I honestly don’t think it would have been possible. From the 20 fantastic female founders I met at a Girl Geek Scotland retreat, who helped me to realise that I wasn’t the only one who was bonkers enough to want to start an ambitious tech company in a recession, to the 1,600 founders I shared the biggest ever TuringFest event with, every single moment of our journey has been sparked, shared, or amplified by an amazing Scottish founder. A rising tide floats more boats – we just have to remember who we’re on the open seas with.