Founder Series: Andrew Morrison, MD of AM Bid

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Andrew Morrison
Andrew Morrison

What does your company do?

We help organisations by writing winning bids, tenders, proposals and award submissions.  We have an 80% bid win rate, regardless of sector.  AM Bid is Scotland’s largest bid and tender specialist.

What do you do there / what is your role?

Managing Director

What was the aha moment that led to the company founding?

Recognising that I could start a business that could offer the benefits of an experienced outsourced bid team to organisations on a pay per use basis rather than having to carry the costs of a standing bid team.

Why did you launch the company?

I spotted a gap in the market for an outsourced bid team approach.

Where did you get assistance when you started?

Some advice from my local East Lothian Business Gateway – thanks to Al Bryce.  Also, good early engagement with both Edinburgh and Midlothian & East Lothian Chambers of Commerce. 

Give us a brief history of the growth of the company

Rapid growth now moving firmly into scale-up territory.  We have been profitable every year and have no investment or debt.  We have permanent staff in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester and London. 

Have you taken any external funding? If so from who and when?

No funding.  I paid myself a bit less than the market rate in the early days to help the business get off the ground.

So what does it look like now with regard to staff and turnover?

Revenue: £91k in Year 1; £268k in Year 2; £464k in Year 3; £729k in Year 4; and now well on track for £1 million in Year 5 – our first quarter has seen a 46% increase on last year’s Q1.  We currently have 8 full-time, 2 part-time and around 20 associates working with our business – more staff will be joining us shortly.

What’s the difference between when you started and now in your marketplace?

Many organisations now understand that they can get the benefits of an outsourced bid service rather than having to struggle (often unsuccessfully) with tender responses.

What is your target market –  Who is buying your product / service?

We can write bids in any sector.  Our largest markets are currently in Construction, Professional Services, Facilities Management, IT & Telecoms and Utilities.

What is your background?

I worked in Scottish local government for 12 years (including 9 years at West Lothian Council with Martin Armstrong – now Chief Executive of Wheatley Housing Group); followed by 9 years in the private sector, bidding mainly to the public sector.  This included 4 years managing 5 bid teams across the UK for British Gas.

What are your goals for your business?

To change the face of bidding so that organisations will bring in external bid specialists as a matter of course.  To continue helping our clients achieve transformational business growth through winning bids and tenders. To help grow AM Bid to be the UK’s largest bid and tender specialists.  To continue to provide development opportunities for existing and new team members.

What are your biggest current challenges?

We have just established a Senior Management Team with the appointment of a Head of Bids and a Head of Operations to assist David Gray, our Bid Development Director and myself with running and scaling the business.  Ensuring that this new management team works well together is one of my main focuses – and it’s got off to a great start! 

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What has been the biggest challenge so far?

Helping new members of staff settle into a remote working model. Based across Scotland and the UK, we do not have central offices but instead work remotely, in our clients’ offices and in city centre meeting rooms.  It works very well but does not suit everyone, so recruitment, training and support are all key.  

What do you do outside work?

2019 is a year in which I am taking a keen interest in my health and fitness.  I am on a campaign to lose 1 pound a week for the year.  Then I will be back to my trim Year 2000 wedding weight!

What do you know now that you wished you had known earlier?

Just how hard you would have to work to get a business off the ground and grow it successfully!

What’s the secret to good leadership?

Don’t take yourself too seriously.  Consider your leadership footprint.  Bring people with you.  Ensure you are passing on your skills to others whilst giving them room to try some things their own way … sometimes it is better than yours!

Where do you see the company in five years?

As the UK’s largest bid and tender specialists, going international and perhaps with a franchised offering.

How can the Scottish startup/entrepreneur landscape be improved to help more businesses start up and grow?

There are a lot of good things happening in Scotland.  I have received some excellent training at Entrepreneurial Scotland training events.  More mentoring – both receiving and giving would be good.  Entrepreneurial networks are great … I love the Scottish Business Network.  More businesses should also use AM Bid … we know how to grow businesses – both yours and ours!    

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