In 2017 it became clear to Ken Whipp, Programme Director of Scale Up Scotland that the resources out there for businesses looking to scale-up were lacking. In fact, there were a number of options for those in the early stages of a start-up, but companies looking to scale their business were struggling to take it further.
Scale Up launched in 2018, and is a not-for-profit organisation focused on helping businesses with high growth potential transition from startup to scaleup.
We helped Scale Up Scotland build a digital platform streamlining their support methods, and offering business support on a larger scale.
Our Marketing Manager, Rachel interviewed Ken to find out more about Scale Up Scotland and what he had to say about working with us.
Ken Whipp, Scale Up Scotland
Q. So Ken, to start off can you tell us a bit about Scale Up Scotland? What are your motivations and why is your work important?
A. If we wind the clock back to 2017 when the idea for Scale Up Scotland first came about, the motivation behind it was from looking at Scotland and the performance of the economy, and things like job creation.
The economy is really reliant on the SME sector, it’s where growth comes from. However, research showed that Scotland is behind the curb in terms of businesses scaling up. From there we looked at the support out there and realised there really isn’t very much.
This was the basis of the programme – how can we help really good start-ups that have got through that stage and are into growth, really realise their potential.
Q. How has Covid impacted the way Scale Up Scotland operates?
A. It had a huge impact on the way we work, but what it really meant was we had to adapt the type of support we were providing.
We were initially holding zoom sessions twice a week, focused on helping people understand the financial support out there, such as furlough and bank loans etc. It can be difficult getting your head around the funding available and how you apply for it, so our support was initially focused on providing people with that information.
We were then able to move that support to planning and conversations once the immediate panic was over, thinking about how we start planning to help businesses recover and get them back on track
Q. Was it a challenge moving from a physical programme to a digital format?
A. Well, yes actually. The bit that was really difficult to get our heads around was the peer-to-peer sharing of knowledge and ideas online – that’s a big facet of our face-to-face programme.
The biggest benefit of the platform to our users has always been the opportunity to share their problems and challenges with like-minded people they trust, so figuring out how to replicate that virtually took some thinking.
Q. How did GearedApp and the team support you in the development of the platform?
A. They’ve been instrumental throughout the whole project. From the initial project initiation right the way through, they’ve been really involved
GearedApp helped us to figure out exactly what the design of the digital platform was going to look like.
Q. This was a very collaborative project, what was that like for you? Did you enjoy the collaborative nature of the project?
A. This has been one of the easiest projects I have ever worked on, even looking back to my corporate days. It’s been down to the good spirit and good will from the project team, I think everyone found it an interesting project to work on.
Collaborative projects only really work well when there’s mutual respect and I felt that to be the case with GearedApp. Everyone has been readily willing to hear other perspectives and ideas and find solutions. Once we come to a conclusion the work gets done on time and to a really high standard.
From my point of view, it’s just been a really great example of a project team that’s worked well
Q. How would you describe your experience working with GearedApp?
A. It’s been a hugely positive experience. I guess the ultimate test is would you recommend them to someone else? and the answer to that is yes I definitely would.
What’s healthy to see in the GearedApp team is people that really want to do a good job – they show their best work as opposed to the get it done mentality.
I trust them in knowing they will do a good job.
Q. Regarding your experience with GearedApp, what’s the one thing that sticks out in your mind most?
A. The attitude of the people, honestly – it makes life so much easier when you’re dealing with people who are enjoyable to work with. I think that’s hugely important – you can often find people who are really competent in what they do but that doesn’t always mean it’s a pleasant experience.
If I was looking to do another development project in the future, GearedApp are who I would talk to.
Q. What does the future look like for the Scale Up Scotland digital platform?
A. I’d like to think if you’re a business in Scotland going through the challenges of scaling up or you are close to that stage, we’d be the first port of call for looking for help and guidance on that.
The great thing about a digital platform is you can learn at your own pace in your own time – it removes a lot of barriers of entry for helping people. Our digital platform means we can serve remote communities as well as the central belt.
Over time I hope we can continue to provide content that we know is valuable to people on a broader base.
Q. What should the key takeaway for readers be?
A. This is a great lesson in how to approach a technical project. I’ve seen lots go wrong and it typically happens because the parties aren’t aligned in the desired outcome, and the wrong people are delivered to commission them.
For me, this is a good example of being clear on outcomes, making sure everyone is 100% aligned on those, and creating a really clear and realistic plan.
Ultimately it comes down to personalities and how we worked together as a group, we approached things as a partnership over a client/customer perspective.
Collaboration is about the right will and intent – transparency, flexibility and willingness to listen to others.
A Successful Project With Scale Up Scotland
There’s nothing we like better than seeing a successful project go on to make its difference to the world. Working with Scale Up Scotland was a great experience for us and we are proud to work with such an impactful organisation. This projects sits at the heart of our Tech for Good values
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