Kim McAllister: Inspired at EiE in Edinburgh

I’m in the middle of recording a radio programme about money for the BBC. I’ve interviewed a number of Scottish fintech apps – but I kind of wish I’d waited until after EiE…

I was at Engage Invest Exploit (EiE19) yesterday (Wednesday 24th April) and, as with the event last year, I was ridiculously inspired.

I chatted to all sorts of entrepreneurs, including the founders of Gigly – a company whose name came up while recording an  interview with Stephen Ingledew from FinTech Scotland, for the radio show.

Co-founder Ali McHugh told me they were looking for £3.5 million of investment – almost apologetically.

“It’s a lot, but it’s what we need to grow” she said.

It sounds like a life-changing amount personally. But of course it’s not personal, it’s business, and actually, Scottish companies are often criticised for not being ambitious enough with their funding rounds.

Another founder I struck up a conversation with (after we both sat on a bench to take the weight off our heels) was Helene Rodger. She would have been great for the show.

Her company MoneyMatix aims to have the minimum viable product (MVP) ready by early summer.

Her goal is to create technology to help the whole family learn about managing money. If my research for the show is anything to go by, she’ll make a killing. Cleverly, Helene has decided her revenue stream is through employers offering the app as an employee benefit. I’m looking forward to seeing the product.

Watching the spotlight pitches at EiE always blows me away – these companies have 60 seconds to explain what they do and persuade us they are worth investing in.

One of the longer, six minute pitches, came from Harry Singh, who I thought pitched confidently, but who revealed he’d actually been pretty nervous.

“It’s the biggest crowd I’ve ever pitched for – but I just looked at the friendly faces and I was OK,” he laughed. The managing director of Edjo – a company that helps combat online plagiarism – came on stage to the “Real Slim Shady” theme tune and kept the energy up throughout the six minutes.

“I graduated from this very hall” was my favourite line from the presentation.

Harry confided to me later that he already knew one of the investors on the panel well, so was anticipating their question, but a couple of the queries were unexpected.

He is hoping to increase the number of staff at the Edinburgh-based firm from five to at least nine by the end of the year, and is confident they’ll raise the £350,000 they need.

“We’ve met some really promising investors, from as far as London and Boston,” Harry told me. “ EiE has been all that it promised and more. We’re excited to start scaling.”

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