FutureScot
Business & Economy

Fourteen entrepreneurs selected for Big Apple tech trip

From left, Nick Murray, Carolina Melendez, Rob Gelb, Victoria Ross, Michael Cockburn, Leah Hutcheon and Dec McLaughlin. Photograph: Supplied

Fourteen entrepreneurs will showcase Scottish tech to an American audience after being chosen to take part in a business mission to New York.

The startup founders will visit the Big Apple next month as part of a programme supported by the Scottish Government and enterprise agency Scottish Development International (SDI).

Their visit from 10-17 April will include visits to global accelerator Techstars and customer relationship management (CRM) specialist Zendesk. 

Leah Hutcheon of Appointedd, Rowan Armstrong of Bioliberty, Ishani Malhotra of Carcinotech, Kate Cameron of Cytochroma, Michael Cockburn of Desana, Monica Camino Moreno of Dialexy, Paul Mooney of NCTech, Dave Hughes of Novosound, Chris Downie of Pasabi, Rotimi Alabi of RAB Microfluidics, Ian Kerr of Raven Controls, Jude Cook of ShareIn, Laura Garcia-Caberol of Touchlab, and Ian Mackenzie of Trojan Energy will join the first NYC programme put together by Foras.

The Foras cohort programme is aimed at making connections with the East-coast US startup community, peer learning, investor engagement, and learning best-practice for building world-class tech businesses.

The New York ecosystem is ranked at number two globally, and has the second-highest number of early-stage investments in the world after Silicon Valley, with a local startup community valued at $147 billion. 

The NYC 2023 Foras programme was designed by Foras founders Dec McLaughlin, Nick Murray, and Carolina Melendez. The delivery team also includes representatives Elitsa Marinova and Victoria Ross from Scottish Development International’s capital investment team, and founder and community builder, Rob Gelb.

The NYC trip follows the success of similar trips to Silicon Valley, and Helsinki’s Slush conference last year. The programme stems from Mark Logan’s 2020 Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review.

Logan recently spoke on the initiative, stating that, “To succeed, our startups must be as good as the world’s best start-ups. Our founders need to be outward-looking, learning from world-class techniques and frameworks, and from those who have already built global tech companies.”

The cohort will enjoy visits with local success stories, Techstars, Zendesk for Startups, and venture capital firm Insight Partners, before pitching their businesses to US investors. The group will also participate in the Tartan Day Parade, as part of an annual celebration of Scottish culture and heritage in New York.

Michael Cockburn, co-founder and CEO of PropTech scale-up Desana, said: “We’re fortunate enough at Desana to have been servicing customers across the US for the past couple of years, and in doing so have been exposed to just how different the ecosystem there for building businesses is.

“We think this kind of additional exposure to investors and people at the top of their game in scaled US technology businesses is incredibly important in raising the overall ambition of Scottish technology businesses – we’re excited to see what the week brings.”

Leah Hutcheon, founder and CEO of award-winning online booking and scheduling platform, Appointedd, said: “I am absolutely thrilled to be joining the Foras team and cohort on the trip to New York. The trip is packed full of value-add sessions that I’m sure will create lots of opportunities for us as a company, and me as a founder.

“Appointedd has a number of clients and partners in New York, so we hope to get to meet as many of them as possible, but I’m also so excited to spend time with the amazing founders on the cohort. We’ve only spent a few hours together so far and already I’m inspired, so I can’t wait to see what the week brings.” 

Carolina Melendez, Foras co-founder, said: “We’re excited to bring together a richly diverse cohort, not only in the focus and aspiration but also in age, ethnicity, gender and lived experience. Selected from different locations across this amazing country, our delegates are a true illustration of Scotland’s tech ecosystem.”

“We know the trip will bring inspiration and professional opportunities, but the ‘Foras’ model also encourages trust, openness and fostering peer relationships within the group.”

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