The tech sector in Britain is seeing continued growth into 2021 after digital advancement and the uptake of technology during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to research by Tech Nation, the UK tech sector saw investment grow to a record £10.1 billion in 2019. On top of this, employment in the sector also grew by 40% in the last two years, now accounting for 9% of the national workforce with the creation of 2.93 million jobs.
Scotland, as well, has seen increased growth in its tech sector, with the Scottish Government highlighting the importance of investment in technology to boost the economy into 2021.
One sector that is seeing a boost from the growth in tech startups, which have been popping up in abundance across the country in recent years.
Companies focusing on areas such as financial services, smart medicines and artificial intelligence, are available and thriving in cities like Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
At DIGIT, we like to champion the rise of small Scottish business, and more importantly, highlight the movers and shakers having a major impact on the tech sector.
In the run-up to International Women’s Day, we took a look at the driving forces behind some of the female-led tech startups causing a stir in Scotland right now.
Sustainably | Loral and Eishel Quinn
Edinburgh and London-based social good tech firm Sustainably is led by the mother and daughter team Loral and Eishel Quinn.
The pair launched the startup after a successful beta launch in 2017 and being voted Richard Branson‘s startup of the year in 2019.
Once the Sustainably app is downloaded, every cashless transaction made is rounded up and treated as a separate transaction. Once the value of the user’s roundups reaches £5, the cash is distributed to a charity of the user’s choice.
Loral and Eishel have now been running the company for five years. Loral, who serves as CEO, previously held the position as the head of digital marketing and strategy for Aberdeen Asset Management, where she set up the global digital team and helped scale the business from six to 30 countries in 10 years.
Co-founder & Chief Product Officer Eishel has previously worked in ethical retail with Neal’s Yard Remedies.
In February this year, Sustainably smashed its crowdfunding target of £300,000 with a week still to go. The firm can now use the funding to further develop the Sustainably app and explore new markets, the Quinns told DIGIT.
MoneyMatiX | Tynah Matembe & Helene Rodger
The MoneyMatiX app helps with financial management, and aids adults and young people in dealing with their finances.
MoneyMatix had a successful crowdfunding campaign in December 2019 for their financial education app, KUZAKASH, which gets parents and children talking and learning about money.
Matembe is a public speaker, as well as a mentor, Saltire fellow, chartered banker and lawyer by training. She has previously worked in financial services internationally for the United Nations.
The Edinburgh-based fintech was named as the winner of DIGIT‘s Scottish Financial Technology Awards (SFT Awards) Selfie-Challenge in 2019.
MoneyMatiX was also chosen from among three finalists to win the top prize, a donation of £1,000 to a charity of their choice.
The company has made significant changes since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The firm is focusing support towards black and minority ethnic people who have been hard-hit by Covid-19, mostly due to social and economic inequalities.
Matembe said that the company is focusing on helping diverse communities become “financially healthy” and ensuring that young people continue to receive financial education and participate in entrepreneurial activities which are otherwise falling by the wayside due to the adjustments to homeschooling life that schools have had to make during the Pandemic.
In response, Matembe says MoneyMatix has expanded its remit to work with not just the children and young people but also with the adults in these communities, running workshops and courses that are specifically geared towards “ensuring diverse communities survive and thrive even during these difficult times.”
Appointedd | Leah Hutcheon
Leah Hutcheon has many accolades under her belt. She was previously named NatWest UK Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year and a winner of a Scottish EDGE Award, as well as featuring in a BBC documentary on entrepreneurship.
As well as this, Hutcheon also founded Appointedd, a booking tool that aims to “make anything, or anyone, bookable online in as little as two taps,” according to the company’s website.
Hutcheon founded the company in 2011, which now operates across 23 countries and helps firms in a variety of sectors with scalable solutions to scheduling.
The Edinburgh-based startup saw success where others had difficulties during the first coronavirus lockdown with the launch of its Shop Safely app, a post-Covid lockdown service aimed at helping non-essential retailers to reopen.
Appointedd’s automated scheduling service allowed customers to book in-store retail appointments, to help manage social distancing and remove the need for queues.
Demand for the services soared by more than 250% in May last year, as retailers sought to implement new practices to enable them to re-open once the nationwide lockdown is lifted.
In a previous interview with DIGIT, Hutcheon discussed some of the vital qualities an effective leader needs, including communication, company culture, and collaboration.
“I feel it’s important to empower your staff and be genuinely collaborative, and I knew I wanted to be the type of boss that encouraged that and led by example,” she said.
VistalWorks | Vicky Brock
The startup, specialising in protecting users online, secured funding from the UK Government’s innovation agency in November to carry out research and development into the reduction of up to 840,000 tonnes of CO2 a year – equivalent to the energy usage of 100,000 homes.
Under Brock’s leadership, the company also signed a deal with the Lithuanian Government in the fight against illegal trading practices in the country using its intelligence software.
Vistalworks worked alongside Lithuania’s GovTech Lab, which works to help the Baltic State combat online harms, particularly the illicit trade of goods.
And the positive news hasn’t stopped in 2021, either. Just last week, the startup took part in a cybersecurity programme to help the UK lead the fight against cybercrime.
Brock has had previous experience as Non-Executive Director at Open Knowledge International, as well as being founder and CEO of Get Market Fit, whose first product is Brock’s new venture Vistalworks – launched in early 2019.
ShareIn | Jude Cook
Co-founding the firm in 2011, Cook spent previous years helping startups create business plans, financial models and business strategies.
“I started out studying General Engineering at Durham University and specialised in fluid mechanics,” Cook said on LinkedIn. “I then went on to train and qualify as a Chartered Accountant with Deloitte in London.”
And this experience put her in good stead to start ShareIn; an investment software that enables a business to raise funds directly from a network of investors.
Cook started ShareIn alongside Andrew Pickett, who has been “pioneering” web technology at startups since 2000 and brings a similar level of experience to Cook.
In 2019, the pair launched a new payment product, ShareInPay, which targets platforms holding ISA money. The tech integrates with a firm’s system to enable its clients to make pay-ins, hold their money in a segregated client money account, transfer money and make pay-outs.
Cook was also a proud winner at the Scottish Tech Awards in 2019, where she was recognised as CEO of the Year.
MindMate/Citruslabs | Susanne Mitschke
Susanne Mitschke is CEO and co-founder of MindMate, which specialises in cognitive health software for people living with memory problems like Alzheimer’s or dementia, or people with a family history of cognitive decline.
Now renamed Citruslabs, the original company headed by Mitschke was founded in 2015 and has gone from strength to strength, teaming up with Australia-based biotechnology firm Actinogen Medical in 2018 on a series of clinical trials, as well as securing $2 million in funding that year to further develop their app.
For her part, Mitschke brings many years of experience from a variety of sector backgrounds. Originally from Germany, she has worked for organisations working in consulting and leadership roles, before finding her feet alongside Rogelio Arellano and Patrick Renner to found MindMate.
As well as this, Mitschke was named on the Forbes Forbes 30 Under 30 Entrepreneurs, as well as being noted as a winner at the Converge Challenge 2016, the Young Innovators Competition 2015 and at the Scottish EDGE – Young EDGE Award Digital Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2015.
Mitschke said that she believes that “doing good” and “making money” should not be mutually exclusive. “In fact, I see it as the Pareto optimality,” she said on LinkedIn.
Talking Medicines | Jo Halliday and Elizabeth Fairley
Based in Glasgow, the firm’s Medsmart app links barcodes on more than 25,000 UK prescription drugs to information about the medicine and how to take it – greatly reducing the hassle for patients and improving the safety of use.
In May 2019, the startup secured its first major investment package as part of a funding round worth £622,000 and gained a further £1.1 million funding in 2020 to scale up its AI-based data tech. The firm has also previously been named as one of Tech Nation’s ‘Rising Stars’.
At the helm, both Halliday and Fairley have a wealth of experience in leadership roles to draw from. Halliday previously worked as the European marketing manager at Jim Beam as well as marketing director at ThreeSixty, before joining Fairley and Crae to form Talking Medicines.
Fairley also has many years in leadership roles under her belt, having founded biomedical consultancy firm EFB Services. She was also the business affairs director at Mironid Limited and eCommerce manager at Mode Diagnostics in Glasgow.