After a short break following out really successful Bristol startup month, we crank our necks northwards to Scotland's largest city Glasgow and (for the next month) shall be taking an in depth look at the people, places and events that make it the great self starter city that it is.
To this end, we have enlisted the help of Chitresh and Louis, co-founders of innovative customer loyalty rewards startup Swipii who having started their business in Glasgow, are very well placed to help set the scene for our Glasgow Startup Month!
Over to Swipii
2014 is a big year for Glasgow. With the Radio 1 Big Weekend, the MTV EMAs, the 20th Commonwealth Games and the independence referendum there are a lot of eyes on the city. The city has great ambition and has found itself a new confidence, emerging from its post-industrial era as an increasingly competitive and global city.
This growth in confidence has brought ample benefits to entrepreneurs and startups across the city as a wide range of organisations, both state and private, have sought to boost the city’s standing and startups benefit from a wide range of support, close proximity to universities boasting powerful business, technical and design credentials, as well as an array of reputable tech and digital marketing enterprises with a talent pool to match and autonomous local governments keen to raise the region’s profile internationally. This has lead to the city winning the £24 million Future Cities Competition as well as the development of successful local startups such as Skyscanner.
Our startup, Swipii, began in 2012. Our co-founders Chitresh from Raipur in India and Louis from Paris met whilst studying at the University of Strathclyde, attracted to the city by its reputable business school and low cost-of-living.During our year of study we came up with the idea of a tablet-based loyalty system for small and medium businesses. We managed to secure investment from a renowned local tech investor to begin to develop our idea.
At this stage we approached Business Gateway, the Scottish Government’s business advice and resource agency, who provided us with guidance in developing financial forecasts and business plans, as well as directed us to the Glasgow City Council Start Up Grant for helping publicise the launch of our product. We also contacted the Strathclyde Entrepreneurial Network who provided support and guidance. The University of Strathclyde was named the Entrepreneurial University of the Year at the 2013 Times Higher Education Awards, demonstrating the strong growth of enterprise in Glasgow and the enthusiasm for the local universities in supporting their alumni.
In early 2013 we moved into our first office in Stow College, one of six business incubators set up by Digital Enterprise Glasgow (DEG), an initiative of Glasgow City Council offering office space, networking, advice, subsidised training and access to financial support, private investors and student interns for startup businesses. The incubators are located across Glasgow connected to the major universities and colleges as well as The Hub, located in the city’s media district.
Later in 2013 we entered the New Ventures Competition, a contest run by the Scottish Institute for Enterprise, an organisation set up by the Scottish Government to promote entrepreneurialism in Scotland’s universities and colleges. We came first and were awarded £10,000 to help accelerate our business. Around this time we moved into our own office in the city centre of Glasgow to be closer to our beta test merchants, we were able to get such a great location thanks to the Glasgow New Business Fund, a Glasgow City Council fund which subsidises the rental costs of commercial properties for businesses with growth ambition and the capacity to create employment.
As we approached our launch date our schedule became hectic and we sought our first employee to take control of our marketing, allowing us to focus on other areas of the business. We approached the University of Strathclyde Careers service, who introduced us to the Santander Universities SME Internship Programme, which subsidised half the cost of hiring an intern for three months, followed by an application to the Commonwealth Graduate Fund, another scheme from Glasgow City Council to subsidise half the cost of a recent graduate’s salary for a year.
Internships and local media
Another internship scheme (which we never used but are aware of) is Adopt An Intern, run by the independent think tank Centre For Scottish Public Policy, which provides funding and support in hiring interns for companies of all sizes, including startups.
Glasgow startups also benefit from multiple independent local media companies, with Scotland’s highest-circulation broadsheet, tabloid and evening tabloid all being based in the city, several of which have regular sections dedicated to new businesses. The Creative Clyde hub is also home to BBC Scotland and STV (Scotland’s independent equivalent of ITV), the latter of whom have just launched a Glasgow-specific tv channel, STV Glasgow. The city also hosts most of Scotland’s largest commercial radio broadcasters alongside the headquarters of BBC Scotland. All these channels are keen for local content. The city also hosts many regular meetup and tech events to support the local startup community.
We finally launched Swipii in late May 2014 to an incredible public reception, with thousands of users signing up within our first month, generating dozens of thousands of checkins at our local merchants. Swipii is all about empowering local business communities by giving them the tools to compete against the big box stores and their multi-million pound CRM systems. We build custom and unique rewards programmes for each merchant, offering everything from free high-fives to free flights to India! Swipii is in the final stages of its beta launch and will be coming to a local business near you soon!
Writen by Chitresh and Louis, co-founding members of the Swipii Squad @SwipiiCard
Thanks for the brilliant assessment of th Glasgow startup scene and your journey within it, and best of luck with Swipii!
If you woul dlike to share your story for our Glasgow startup month, or want to tell u about something that's going on then check out "Startup Cities, Glasgow We Need You!" or drop us an email to [email protected] . Or if you fancy learning more about the Glasgow startup scene, check out our recent Glasgow themed posts!
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