Archive for the ‘60 Second Interview’ Category

Life as a start up in Edinburgh, quick view from the inside – conversation with Ben Eliott, founder of startup Legalesign.com

Q: So, first off, you’ve founded Legalesign and based it here in Edinburgh, I’m interested to know the main reasons for this.

A: Well, probably there are three main benefits for a start up in Edinburgh. First of all, everyone in start-ups is keenly aware of their cash flow and Edinburgh is a great place for living less expensively. When I’m in London I find money disappears from my pocket as soon as I walk out the door. In Edinburgh everything is an order of magnitude better priced and the quality of life here is super. I walk everyday to work through a UNESCO world heritage site and take in a fantastic view of one of the worlds great castles. (more…)

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Julius Gunnemann is an aspiring entrepreneur, about to start his 3rd year of university studies in Edinburgh. Having completed the International Baccalaureate in Germany, Julius envisioned a platform of video knowledge focused on helping IB students around the world. Our 60-second interview focuses on what IB Your Tutor aims to achieve and how Julius brought the concept to life.


Could you briefly describe what IB Your Tutor is about to our readers?

http://www.ib-your-tutor.com is first and foremost the largest IB video library worldwide. In 8-12 minute short study videos that cover topics of the IB along the courses’ syllabi, IB alumni explain what they knew and what they wish they had known for their exams – in a an easy-to-remember way. We want to tell our students about IB specific tips and solve hard problems from past papers. But we also want to provide them with hundreds of tests, past papers and an answer service to make the learning experience more efficient.


How did you came up with this idea?

Sitting in one of my maths classes at my IB school in Germany I realised how difficult it was be to find a tutor who helps clarify missed topics in class. While you probably won’t find someone who can teach you Georg Mendel’s rules of Genetics or how to work through complex differentiations with trig equations – in English – in the South of Germany, you might have the same problems in Marseille, Cancun or Jakarta. 100,000 other IB students all learn along the same syllabi to take identical exams. I wanted to create something that allows anyone to study anywhere in the world. Something to help those who are not as fortunate with their teachers or cannot afford a conventional tutor for 50 pounds per hour to have the same chances as those at top IB schools.


What makes this platform unique? (more…)

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BookAdopter homeThe person behind Keepmeout and Quezti, local Edinburgh University student Ali Eslami has recently started a textbook exchange site – Book Adopter. I met up with Ali and asked him about his new web app …


So Ali, tell me about your new startup.

Our latest project is called BookAdopter, and it’s a website that helps students buy and sell their university textbooks. Check it out at http://bookadopter.com.

Why another textbook exchange site? Why do you think you’ll succeed where others have failed?

It just doesn’t make sense that students buy the same textbooks over and over every year. Not only does this have a significant cost for students, it also has serious consequences for the environment.

The fact that there have been so many other attempts at tackling this problem shows us that people recognise the need for a solution. It’s just that up until recently we haven’t had the right combination of tools to come up with such a solution. (more…)

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This week’s 60 second interview comes from Mirren Fischer (Chief Dog-Spoiler @luxuryhound). Mirren is an American architect and entrepreneur living in Edinburgh since 2008. She doesn’t like to acknowledge she’s a techie in public, but she definitely has a geek-streak!

What’s your startup?

Luxuryhound. We encourage people to spoil their dogs. More specifically, we design and make designer dog accessories in Scotland, mostly from leathers and tweeds, but we also have a more urban line of sparkly crystal collars.

Who/what inspired you to go down this road?

Even though I’m not a Paris Hilton type, I had a ‘handbag’ dog, and I took her everywhere with me; she really was a sort of substitute child. I then started noticing that I was part of a global trend of people anthropomophising their pets (and thereby spending more money on them) and yet, at the time, there wasn’t much out there that I thought was special. I was actually pushed to start the company when the recession carried away a lot of the design work in Scotland and I had to figure out something else to do.

What’s the next big challenge or hurdle that the company has to overcome?

I’ve been building my brand online, but in order to make the leap to larger sales I need to start selling wholesale. Shops like Harrods and Saks Fifth Avenue are in my sights, but my biggest hurdle is how shy I am about direct sales. When I talk to people about my products I know I convey passion and integrity; it’s just making the initial cold contact that terrifies me! (more…)

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Persuasion API logoWith the full schedule for the Turing Festival now published, here’s a taste of what’s lined up for August. Our first stop: Arjan Haring, self-described wannabe breakdancer and science rockstar, and Chief Rebel Officer of Dutch startup Persuasion API.

What does Persuasion API do?

We have a learning algorithm that optimizes persuasion strategies per individual website visitor. [This tool was the subject of a recent feature in Wired magazine, which explained the difference between taste profiling, which is what Amazon or Netflix uses to recommend new products you might like, and persuasion profiling. While the former tries to guess what you like, the latter analyses how to pitch it so that you’re most likely to buy.]

What’s your company culture in 3 words?

Fun, handsome and good-looking. (more…)

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I met Dave Black when I started as a Studio Manager at Leith-based, creative design and marketing agency Digital Face where he was the Creative Director, and a generally entertaining guy.

Most days he would bring his Dalmatian, Poppy, into the studio and she would potter about the place endearingly, occasionally letting out a huge sigh before curling up to sleep under Dave’s desk. Dave has since moved on from Digital Face and is now the owner of Black Arts, a specialist digital design and production studio.

He has very kindly agreed to write articles for StartupCafe on design, branding and social media so I thought it quite right and proper to give him a 60 second grilling!  Previous appearances on StartupCafe include: Should your brand be talking through social media? Which one?  and Three common mistakes in self-description.

You can see examples of Dave’s work here and here you can follow him on Twitter: @DaveBl4ck

So, let’s find out a wee bit more about him…

What does Black Arts Studio do? We’re a creative agency who build web sites, branding, design and video at our offices in Edinburgh for clients all over the world

Your company culture in 3 words? Original, intelligent design. (more…)

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Our 60 second interviews are designed as a way for people within the Edinburgh community to find out about each other.

This week’s interviewee is Bruno Panara from Tigatag. Bruno was a recent graduate from the BSc in Computer Science and AI course from the School of Informatics. With a colleague, Bruno built a located based check-in game over the summer as part of a Informatics iPhone app scholarship. Since then, they have turned the app into a business called Tigatag.

What’s your startup?
Tigatag. We get users to use their GPS phones to play games together (think treasure hunts or group games), winners get prizes!

Who/what inspired you to go down this road?
I wanted to be able to choose what I wanted to do and how I would go about doing it. (more…)

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Our 60 second interviews are designed as a way for people within the Edinburgh community to find out about each other.

This week’s interviewee is Craig McKenna. As an experienced business developer who has in excess of 12 years top level business development behind him, Craig uses this knowledge to help other businesses grow. A highly ambitious and motivated entrepreneur he is always looking to push businesses forward.

What’s your startup? 

The Growth Academy

Who/what inspired you to go down this road?
Whilst running another company it became apparent that there was no cost effective but structured mentoring support for small businesses which aren’t funded.


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I always describe Natali Chanany as a little woman with a BIG personality, and of those who’ve met her, I think few would disagree!

Given that we first met at iCUE, a junior enterprise at the University of Edinburgh, I’m not surprised that her interest in entrepeneurism and passion for startups led her to become involved in Scottish startup Van Der. This online fashion startup launched at the end of November 2010 and caught my attention as a result of some marketing activity powered by this wk’s 60 Second interviewee.

Name: Natali Chanany

Your role: Press and Social Media Marketing for Van Der

How old is Van Der? Just under a year.

What’s the next big challenge that Van Der has to overcome?  (more…)

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Let’s give a nice warm welcome to the lovely Diana Proca!  Some of you may recognise her from Launch48, an entrepreneurial events company that organises weekends which bring together designers, developers and business folk with the aim of launching a business in 48hours!  Most of the StartupCafe folk have participated and loved these events, so much so that Jess and Hilary helped organise the first Launch48 event in Edinburgh a few months ago.  Anyway, Diana has kindly given up a few moments of her time to share some of her experiences, offer some advice to startups and reveal a guilty pleasure…

Name: Diana Proca

Your role: Events Manager at Launch48

Give us your company culture in 3 words: enthusiastic, energetic, positive

How old is Launch48? Two years

Based on your experience of startups that are formed during Launch48, what are the most common / most repeated mistakes? (List 3 max)

1. being too enthusiastic but only for a short period of time
2. bad level of communication within the team
3. sticking to the initial vision and lack of flexibility

What’s the next big challenge that Launch48 has to overcome? (more…)

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