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Anthony Gerrard

Spark the imagination

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AT SCOTT-MONCRIEFF we are serious about corporate social responsibility. We are keen to to integrate social, environmental and economic concerns into the firm’s culture by incorporating core values into our decision making.

We actively strive to support local communities and charities and many of our staff and partners volunteer in responsible positions, offer advisory support to charitable organisation and regularly volunteer to undertake a range of community and charitable activities.

We also organise work experience opportunities with local schools and assist individuals who are looking to build a career in their chosen field or looking to combine industry recognised qualifications with valuable work experience.

Our goal is to make a positive contribution to the society in which we live and work. Scotland’s future is in the hands of the next generation, and we want to make a sustainable investment in these young people. Everyone should have access to quality employment and be able to use the opportunities available to them to be part of a workforce that confident, skilled and effective.

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Our clients include a number of inspiring entrepreneurs, start-ups and high growth businesses and this means we regularly see the power of entrepreneurial spirit. Entrepreneurs not only contribute new ideas and developments to society, but also create new jobs for both themselves and their communities.

Often, they think differently, and tackle challenges in new ways. We want entrepreneurship to be promoted to create new businesses, new jobs, and new ideas for Scotland to grow and prosper. The most effective way of capturing this spirit is by instilling its values in our young people, who can be motivated to create their own ideas and start their own projects, if they have the confidence to pursue their ambitions – and we’ve seen from the success of our own clients that this can reap real rewards for both individuals and wider society.

That’s why we are so delighted to be sponsoring the Bad Idea competition in Edinburgh and Glasgow this year. The concept that there’s no such thing as a bad idea and that everyone, no matter where they come from, has the potential to generate that spark of inspiration to create a successful business is something we strongly believe in. 

 

Wemyss Stewart,
partner in Scott-Moncrieff and currently partner in charge of CSR

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Opportunities lie over the horizon

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We Scots are great inventors, generators of ideas, of ways of doing things – from James Watt and his steam engine powering the industrial revolution; to the philosophical thinking of The Enlightenment which underpinned it; from the telephone to TV; penicillin to a range of discoveries in my own field, physics; to the first ever rugby international, which in modern parlance we ‘co-created’ with England in 1871; and a huge collection of other innovations – from beta-blockers to banking; all the way through to Dolly the Sheep and a test for meningitis. 

However, innovation – especially in modern commercial terms – is not such a great Scottish story. As our world-leading universities venture onto the road to commercialisation, neither the public nor private sectors in Scotland are performing well in the crucial area of innovation.

Although some small steps of progress have recently been made, we lag behind our major competitors in productivity – currently ranked 17/32 across the OECD – showing a lack of fleet-footedness, of innovation to drive success. If necessity is indeed the mother of invention, it’s time we gave birth to a big family!

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For an island nation, Scotland appears to lack ambition to compete internationally, to trade our way out of recession – with only 100 companies accounting for 60 per cent of our total export effort! Scotland needs a step-change in our ability to trade overseas. 

And yet, we have some stellar performers. In whisky, salmon and textiles we supply the world with products which continue to evolve, to innovate, staying ahead of the competition, remaining relevant to new generations, ahead of the consumer demand curve.

So why can’t the rest of us grab a piece of that pie and develop the lucrative supply chains that go with such export growth.

SCDI, an active inventor and innovator throughout our 84 year existence with a range of economic interventions to our name, led early trade missions to open-up new global markets in places including China and the former Soviet Union. UKTI and SDI have the ability to innovate with this tried and tested way of working, and open-up a whole new range of opportunities – especially in the emerging markets of Asia, the Middle East and Africa – for the next generation of exporters – making trade missions more agile and responsive to the changing nature of business birth, growth and development here at home. SCDI is working with them to do just that through partnership – now that’s not a bad idea! 

 

Ross Martin
Chief Executive, SCDI

 

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Launch a new kind of social awareness

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Bad Idea is one of a growing band of businesses in Scotland which put social responsibility and business enterprise in the same envelope. 

Social enterprise trade to tackle social problems, improve communities or their environment. Like any other business, they sell goods and services in the open market but reinvest their profits back into their social aims or the local community.

The more-than-profit approach is enjoying support from many areas including Scottish and UK Government, lottery-funding, charitable trusts and foundations, business and individuals.

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Bad Idea is part of a selective group of businesses taking part in LaunchMe, an accelerator programme helping them attract private investment to scale up and increase their social impact.

LaunchMe, the first programme of its kind in Scotland, is a Big Lottery Fund initiative delivered by Firstport, Scotland’s development agency for start-up social enterprise.

Participants receive wide-ranging business support and help to secure private sector investment alongside Big Lottery funding to a level which enable them to reach financial self sustainability. Future profits are either ploughed back into the business or used for specific charitable purposes. No profits are distributed by way of dividends. The company also need to display that it makes a tangible difference to society. 

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My own interest in LaunchMe comes from many years of involvement with Scottish business angels. Scotland has one of the strongest business angel communities in the world and a strong track record in assisting start-up and early stage businesses achieve their ambitions. I’ve been greatly encouraged to see that a number of these angels are also willing to support sustainable social enterprises where the potential reward is significantly less in financial terms but significantly more in terms of supporting disabled, disadvantaged and disengaged people in society. 

Business interests and the needs of our society are often perceived as being at different ends of the spectrum but the reality can be very different. Many Scots businesses channel significant effort and resources into supporting local or national social needs although there is always more that can be done, particularly in the current climate of reducing central resources. Firms can contribute to the fairer society to which we all aspire by supporting, encouraging and trading with social enterprises.

The social entrepreneurs brave enough to embark on the risky road of starting up social enterprise companies are an inspiring bunch. They deserve support from those who can provide it and in turn encourage the growth of social enterprise in Scotland. 

 

Peter Shakeshaft
Business angel and Firstport board member

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Crowdfunding

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Levelling the entrepreneurial playing field

Crowdfunding is a new phenomenon taking the world of fundraising by storm; millions of dollars are donated every day to startups, community groups and charities. But the paradigm is in the way crowdfunding is democratising finance, creating opportunities for women and ethnic minorities.

Traditionally, women struggle to access finance from VCs, private equity houses and, to a slightly lesser extent, angel investors.

  • MIT research showed that men are 40% more likely to get VC funding with the samepitch as women.
  • Only 14% of venture capitalists are female, and women account for less than 8% of chiefexecutives and founders of VC-backed companies.
  • Just five of the FTSE 100 companies have female chief executives and women occupyjust 17% of board seats at Fortune 500 companies.

Numerous studies including those by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor show that raising funds from traditional sources can be much harder for minorities and women. GEM women’s report says “Still, in nearly every economy there are fewer female than male entrepreneurs, and they appear to show reluctance to scale their businesses or to enter new and less tested markets. Yet is this down to will or down to the fact they can’t find funding?”

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The truth of the matter is that people invest in people they know and trust, people who remind them of themselves; when VC teams and investors are mostly men, then it follows that they’ll invest more in men.

A study done by Harvard Business School, University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, and MIT’s Sloan School of Business showed two video pitches for a business to 194 potential investors. The scripts for the videos were exactly the same but one had a female narrator and one had a male narrator. Only 32 per cent of people said they would fund the woman, compared to 68 per cent who said they would fund the man.

But compare this to crowdfunding:

  • On Indiegogo women are 61% more likely than men to meet their goals and womenaccount for 41% of small business, tech and entrepreneurial campaigns that reach their target.
  • 25% of all investments on Crowdcube are by women and 45% of Kickstarter backers are women. (statistics via Hubbub)

What’s key here is that women are actually edging out men in both the number of contributions per campaign, and the total dollar amount raised per campaign. On average, successful women-led Indiegogo campaigns eek out 1.3 more contributions than their male counterparts, and raise, on average 10.75% more money than campaigns run by men.

On Kickstarter, where backers make contributions in exchange for rewards, women-led companies account for less than 10% of technology projects. But roughly two-thirds of women-led technology ventures reached their fundraising goals versus just 30% of technology ventures with male founders.

The report "Gender Dynamics in Crowdfunding: (Kickstarter)," authored by Dan Marom, Alicia Robb, and Orly Sade reveals the following:

  • Women are more likely to fund women; about 40% of women’s investments went to women-led projects. Only about 23% of investments by men went to women-led projects.
  • The more influential women are in a founding team, the more female investors they’ll get; so women-only founding teams had a greater share of female investors than mixed-gender teams, and male-only teams attracted the fewest women investors.
  • Women raise less money, but this isn’t why they’re more likely to succeed; the average funding goal for women-led projects was about $6,300, compared to $9,400 for men. But when the researchers looked at matched pairs of projects – projects that were identical in category, subcategory, and goal amount – the women still were more successful than the men.

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So, why?

Crowdfunding is all about community, making women more likely to both launch and support crowdsourced businesses. Add in women’s natural inclination to rally around and support one another, and it makes sense that they’re a lot more successful when crowdfunding, rather than raising capital through traditional means. While there may be many reasons that women tend not to make as much money as men, it’s often touted that women negotiate less than men do. In crowdfunding, there is no negotiation. There’s also little or no risk (rewards/donation), it doesn’t cost anything to try or to fail. And even if you don’t reach target you’ve still achieved, you’ve still learned. But the things that women are naturally good at, such as team working, forming relationships, nurturing, supporting, sharing – are all aspects of social media, the foundation of crowdfunding, and part of the crowdfunding skill set.

International Monetary Fund’s Christine Lagarde, “All economies have savings and productivity gains if women have access to the job market. It’s not just a moral, philosophical or equal-opportunity matter. . . . It just makes economic sense.”

Promoting crowdfunding as an alternative funding source for women and minorities can create more new business starts, increase tax revenue, jobs, gender inclusivity and economic equality.

 

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It never pays to give up on your own ideas

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Anthony Gerrard, CEO of Bad Idea, is a prime example of what drives the founding and development of this social enterprise. His experience gives him a deep personal understanding of the obstacles of inequality facing young people as he endured periods of poverty and homelessness that left him longing to transform his own future. He approached 27 support agencies with a business idea and was left bitterly disappointed with the support and advice on offer, as well as being left with a very strong sense that it wasn’t for people like him. He decided to depend on the one person who could make that vital change – himself.

“There is no such thing as a bad idea but it took me months of trying to establish a business to recognise that. In January 2012 I was invited to a strategic meeting hosted by Jobs and Business Glasgow, as one of their clients. A year earlier I had started a business called U18 Team, which provided a bespoke website for 13 – 17 year olds for exclusive online creative exchanges and the meeting focused on finding new ways to inspire 16 to 24 year olds to start their own business. At that point Glasgow was 5000 short of the SMEs it should have had for its population size and I have to admit that the strategy meeting annoyed and frustrated me so much because the discussions illustrated my own experience – that business start up is stuck in the 20th century and so superficial.

The first huge obstacle is at the point of entry, when you’re told to go and write a business plan and if you can’t fit that criteria, forget it. Your initial inspiration is that first idea, which gets you going, fills you with excitement and enthusiasm and propels you into a support agency – and then you’re asked to write a 3 to 5 year business plan. You’re young, full of creativity and innovation and given no chance to nurture that idea, to explore where it comes from and what the ultimate aim is. There are some fantastic people in these support agencies but there are also far too many bureaucrats, stifling that creativity with a tick list of must dos.

The only things I got out of that strategy meeting is realising that there is actually no such thing as a bad idea and that there has to be a way of nurturing ideas before they go down the very traditional, very frustrating route. We have amazing young people in this country coming up with original and fantastic concepts which are too often smothered before they come to fruition. Some ideas will never see the light of day, others will change and mature into something else, a few will be developed in their original form. Looking back at my own experience with U18 Team I knew it was time for change, though I didn’t realise then how long it would take to bring Bad Idea to life.

I got really excited and thought I had the perfect solution to the strategy meeting- not to create another support service, but to inspire more young people to attempt business start-up in the first place. However when I tried to get back to everyone involved I was bounced around, eventually met up with someone who more or less told me to calm down, said my plan was too ambitious and said they would be in touch. I was pretty sure they were just going through the motions and I was having none of it. I’d lived and breathed that experience myself and I wanted it transformed for all other young people in Scotland and to introduce the concept of entrepreneurship at a much earlier age.

I’m speaking from experience here – I grew up in poverty and was homeless at 18. I tried to survive on benefits, which is a horrible place to be and at age 26 I decided to study and completed my first year in law at university, but at the start of second year I lost my best friend to cancer and was so devastated the uni decided I should defer for a year. That left me with nothing – no family support, no benefits – and struggling to survive. Sometimes education is the only place kids on their own can survive and by November 2010 I was despairing so in January 2011 I started U18 Team.

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That experience meant I knew what was ahead of me when I started Bad Idea but it was hard. I was sleeping on friends’ couches, surviving on Enterprise Allowance while putting on a brave face, like going to meetings and paying for the coffee knowing that was the last of my benefit money so I wouldn’t be eating that night. I was very very hungry a lot of the time but I had a vision of how this could work and I had to make it happen. Some people made that vital difference – Professor Vic Lally at Glasgow University gave Bad Idea academic gravitas, Liz McGuire, Senior Policy Development Officer at Glasgow City Council gave me sponsorship and James Muldon at the Scottish Government provided practical advice and support through Scotland Can Do. The first Bad Idea competition was a pilot in 2014 and the organisation now has 14 employees in 7 cities and the 2015 competition is in full swing – every minute of effort has been worth it but I hope to make life considerably easier for anyone else hoping to do the same and get their business up and running.

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Article first appeared in The Herald, Friday, May 1 2015

The Future of Scotland

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Our vision is for Scotland’s people to build the most entrepreneurial society in the world.  It is the entrepreneurial, the innovators, the doers, the creators, the entrepreneurs, the entrepreneurs who create the most value, the jobs and contribute significantly back to our country.

We need entrepreneurial people to start, grow, change, renew all aspects of our economy; from start-ups to corporates, in Government, in education, everywhere.

It is all about people, as it is people who make the impact.  These people need connections.  We need to connect them together so they can share insight and experience, access new ideas, markets, opportunities, find the resources they need.  I have seen the power of connections first hand, as Entrepreneurial Scotland already has a Leaders’ tier of membership; people who are leading businesses and generating wealth in Scotland and internationally through innovation.

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We also need to connect the next generation.  For that reason, we recently launched a new Future Leaders’ tier at Edinburgh Castle for the next generation of innovators.  We are attracting talented, ambitious people from a wide range of backgrounds – all able to demonstrate their contribution to an enterprising activity within a business, social enterprise, charity or within the public sector in Scotland and are on a path to leading high impact enterprises.

Together with a shared passion for Scotland, we can build the most entrepreneurial society in the world.

Sandy Kennedy, CEO of Entrepreneurial Scotland
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Inspired young people hold key to a successful nation

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A successful Scotland will always prosper if we put our people first. Great world inventions have emanated from our lands – from Alexander Graham Bell and the telephone to Alexander Fleming and the invention of penicillin. But we are in a completely different world now, digital technology and social media has changed our working and living environments. It has opened up massive opportunities, but only if we are brave enough, and have the tools, to grasp them.

We only have to look at the success of businesses such as Skyscanner, BrewDog and Clyde Space – creating new business models that fit today’s consumer and global environment. These are Scotland’s new entrepreneurial giants and it is their legacy and leadership that must inspire a new generation of inventors and innovators.

But to do this, we must first invest in the future of our young people.

I want to see every young person in Scotland with the opportunities to become inspired, have ambitious plans and feel valued, regardless of their background. This is fundamental, not only in creating an inclusive Scotland, but making sure that Scotland is tapping into the exceptional pool of talent that has always set us apart from other nations.

A trio of Scottish Saltire flags are displayed at the Scottish border at Berwick Upon Tweed, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. Scotland has been warned. If it votes to leave the United Kingdom later this year, then it walks away from the pound. That's the hard-line message presented Thursday by U.K. Treasury chief George Osborne, who ruled out a currency union in a speech in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)

From day one of a young person’s education journey, I want to see Scotland offer bold and ambitious opportunities. This means we have to look to the future and from a business perspective, the future is international and we have to prepare our young people now. We simply cannot let the legacy of Bell and Fleming become relegated to a class in history – their discoveries must be the inspiration for the next generation of Scottish entrepreneurs.

We have proven that we have great entrepreneurial role models – but simply not enough! We need to re-imagine how we promote a global mind-set to our young people and, yes, that requires bold steps and showcasing those that continue Bell’s legacy such as Clyde Space – a Scottish based supplier of spacecraft systems. We need to create an outward-looking culture amongst our young people and this has to start from day one of their education journey, moving towards a model which provides international languages of business as a regular and ordinary element of the school curriculum. This will inevitably support Scotland’s future trade ambitions and will naturally open up a wealth of opportunities for all of our young people to feel proud of their achievements.

It is often stated that we have more world-class universities in Scotland per head of population than anywhere else in the world, but are we becoming complacent, and are we truly ahead of the curve, or are others taking over? We must become bolder and braver in our innovation, consider doing things in a different way to achieve even better results; or example, making international experiences a standard part of our degree programmes. We must also recognise the positive contribution made to Scotland by international students because they are also the leaders of the future. We have to remain an attractive destination and seriously begin to look at adopting a more flexible attitude to post-study work visas, so we can continue to attract top talent into Scotland and also provide opportunities for the international graduates to contribute to businesses in Scotland.

These are all practical tools that can enable an inspired generation to start their own business in the knowledge and confidence that they have the right skills to do so. We all have an absolute obligation to ensure that all of our young people have opportunity and skills enabling all of our community to feel valued, respected and able to contribute to our economy. We need to create a culture where this is a natural decision, the norm. I know that this is rare, so it is up to us, the influencers, to create a vibrant inventor culture for Scotland, where all of our young people can build on the legacies of our entrepreneurial giants.

Liz Cameron OBE, Director/Chief Executive, Scottish Chambers of Commerce

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Prabhjot testimonial (runner-up 2015)

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I thought that the organisation it self was really interesting and engageble for young people. I was proud of myself when I knew when I was in the final and was the 2nd winner. I think parents should encourage there children to do something like this. It was a great experience having met other people and their ideas. If you don’t really get into the finals or the national ones you should never feel bad because at least you tried and got to that point which is a great success.

Thanks to all the BAD IDEA ORGANISATION and you.

Prabhjot
Age 12, John Paul Academy
2015

Demi – Bad Idea WINNER 2014

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My business idea was a new exciting app which will show you what your hair would look like before you dye it. The app offers you easy choices of the colours you want to dye your hair and a social media bar allows you to share your photo on any social network site and get other people’s opinion so you don’t waste your money on dyeing it if other people don’t think it’s nice.

After my win with Bad Idea I decided that business was something that interested me and when I went to pick my Highers for school I choose Business Management even though I haven’t done it before because before I didn’t think I would be interested in it. I am doing a 2 year Higher with Business and I have nearly completed my first year which I have really enjoyed. At various points of the course I can link back to Bad Idea and the stuff I learned. I have just finished the marketing section and one day during the Bad Idea was focusing on marketing which I think has really helped me understanding marketing in school.

Also because of Bad Idea and the presentations I had to do I believe I am more confident; in October my school was taking part in the YPI competition where you had to compete in a competition in a group to present a charity and win £3,000 for the charity. Later on in December I did an event at Apple where Anthony from Bad Idea asked me about my experience and I think this also helped with my confidence. My group won and I think because I did the Bad Idea completion it helped with my presentation skills and with my confidence.

When I am older I would be interested in doing something further with Business because I enjoy it.

Demi, 2014

Taylor testimonial

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The bad idea competition helped me with my confidence, speech and my attitude towards talking/taking part in groups and being able to share my idea with 20+ people. The bad idea has helped me with my confidence because when I first went I wouldn’t even say my name to my group or the answers to the questions, to me it didn’t matter about being able to know all the answers or winning money to me it was about getting my act together and being able to do it!

After I got used to everyone being around me I came out my shell a little and I would share the answers and help everyone else, by the end of the week I could talk to anyone I just wasn’t confident enough to talk out to everyone with the microphone. As I said at the beginning, it wasn’t about the money, it was to achieve my goal and by the end of the week I had also done that. One of the staff at the bad idea Anthony Gerrard he boosted my confidence the most as he was always boosting my confidence because he was always making me laugh.

I would recommend bad idea to anyone, if I could do it again I would!

Taylor, 2015