Fourteen entrepreneurs have been selected to travel to a US tech conference on a Scottish business mission.

The CEOs and founders will travel to the famous South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin, Texas, next month as part of a government-backed tech ecosystem programme.

The participants will travel to the event courtesy of Foras – a programme that specialises in ‘immersive international ​experiences’ for entrepreneurs and ecosystem builders.

Foras is supported through the Scottish Ecosystem Fund 2023–24, Scottish Enterprise, and The Scottish Government.  ​

The trip, between 6-14 March, aims to help founders make connections with the US startup community. It will also facilitate peer learning, investor engagement, and learning best practices for building world-class tech businesses.

This will include a reception with local venture capitalists (VCs) at Wilson Sonsini Austin HQ, and a startup showcase in front of an audience of international VCs, and buyers.

Caro Melendez, Foras co-founder, said: “We’re excited to bring together another diverse cohort, not only in the industry focus and aspiration but also in age, ethnicity, gender and lived experience, representing Scotland’s eclectic entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“These excursions encourage peer connectivity, rapid growth and inspiration, and the importance of looking ‘up and out’ to global markets when scaling a business from Scotland.”

Dan Marrable, co-founder & CEO of EdTech SaaS Startup Forum, said: “We’re honoured to represent Scottish innovation at SXSW 2024, and grateful to Foras for recognising our mission to globally transform alumni engagement and fundraising. This opportunity to learn from industry leaders, build relationships with investors, and showcase our business is a game-changer for Forumm. We see this trip as a monumental step toward our expansion into the US market.”

Ana Betancourt, CEO of audio design tech startup Black Goblin, said: “SXSW is a beacon for innovation and creativity, and for Black Goblin it represents a huge opportunity to connect with US leaders in the Creative Sector as well as understanding the investor ecosystem. We are also very honoured to be given the chance to represent Scotland’s creative industries with our upcoming product Thol in such an important global stage.”

Austin’s region is home to more than 3,000 fast-growing companies. The city’s total combined enterprise value reached $115.3B in 2022. The SXSW 2024 Startup Cohort Programme was designed by Foras co-founders Dec McLaughlin, Nick Murray, and Carolina Melendez. The delivery team also includes Robert Gelb of Campfire and Amy Wallace of Bracken Grove alongside Greg Zienkiewicz of CreateGreg.

The SXSW trip follows the success of similar trips to Silicon Valley, Slush in Helsinki, NYC, and Web Summit in Lisbon. The programme’s goals complement Mark Logan’s 2020 Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review. Logan recently spoke on the initiative, stating, “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, a reception at Wilson Sonsini’s Austin HQ, and a private VC panel, before pitching their businesses to US investors as part of a Startup Showcase at the Department of Trade (DBT)’s ‘UK House’ venue.

The cohort was hosted at Thorntons Edinburgh HQ last week, on the back of the announcement of their long-term partnership with Foras.

The 14-person cohort selected is:
Don Smith of 1nhaler
Colin Gray of Alitu
Ana Betancourt of Black Goblin
Damien Roux of Drimify
Mathew Norbury of FC Labs
Daniel Marrable of Forumm
Joe Gibson of Gibson Robotics
Anne Lanc of Ionburst
Camila Jimenez Pol of Konpanion
Hamish Geddes of Lenz Labs
Sheena Johnstone of Nursery Story
Jen McLean of Raven Controls
Emily Rogers of Reath
Dominic McCann of Siccar