Bringing Silicon Valley know-how to Scotland – Anna Brow

Anna Brow, Head of Communications and PR, Startup Grind Scotland

From across the world, visionaries flock to Silicon Valley to pitch the next Uber or Netflix. It is the new American dream – a world built on selling ideas to the highest bidder. It’s easy to see why. There is an electric pull to this slice of the Californian coast: the sunshine, welcoming people, and the buzz of innovation that draws you in.

I found myself earlier this month alongside twenty of Scotland’s most exciting tech entrepreneurs and the rest of the Startup Grind Scotland team, Dec McLaughlin, Caroline Melendez and Nick Murray. We spent a week immersed in the tech mecca, meeting fellow founders, visiting leading tech companies, and attending Startup Grind’s Global Conference – culminating in a private pitch party with over fifty US-based investors.

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From the outset, we envisioned bringing together a diverse group of founders from various backgrounds, walks of life, and ways of thinking. As Tzaritsa Asante, founder of web3 fashion disrupter Tzar!, said, “In such diversity, you are permitted to grow.” This year’s cohort was a true representation of Scotland’s entrepreneurial sector: a shining example of what we have to offer the world.

The Startup Grind Scotland cohort during the Silicon Valley trip

In his 2020 report, Mark Logan presented his vision of a world-leading Scottish technology ecosystem. Our program funding was based on his recommendations from him, and we are tremendously grateful to the Scottish Government for leveling the playing field and enabling founders from across the country to travel to Silicon Valley.

As forerunners in innovation, it is clear why we look towards the Valley’s tech leaders to incorporate their way of thinking at home. Nvidia blew us away with the company’s deep capabilities in AI, walking a line between science fiction, reality and ethics. Startup Grind’s Global Conference presents creative web3 applications, from decentralized communities to how the blockchain can ensure inclusion in a historically white and male space.

But we must not only look outwards: Scotland’s tech leaders have much to offer the world. At UserTesting HQ, CEO Andy McMillan said, “Scotland has a unique tech industry,” with more untapped tech talent available than he’s seen worldwide. Our next challenge is to ensure that Scottish talent is highlighted on the global map. We’re excited to work alongside Scottish Development International to help make this a reality.

A highlight since our return has been hearing Kate Forbes MSP champion the programme’s success to Holyrood. There is more to learn about how the broader impact of this experience will ripple across tech businesses in Scotland. Given the reception that this trip has already had, it’s easy to imagine what could be possible with more funding, more founders and more excursions.

Scottish businesses are competing on the global stage. Our entrepreneurs are as driven, unforgiving and innovative as those in Silicon Valley, but their magic lies in their empathy and understanding of their businesses’ impact. We may have a lot to learn from the Valley, but we have a wealth to share, too. If this cohort represents the next generation of tech leaders in Scotland, we’re in safe hands.

Anna Brow, Head of Communications and PR, Startup Grind Scotland

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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