Archive for the ‘Guest Blogger’ Category

[Guest Post] This week, we asked Owen O’Leary of The Locals’ Guide to Edinburgh what the best cafes in Edinburgh for work are.

Oh the joys of mobile working! Now, like smoking electronic cigarettes it can be done anywhere. Walking, waiting, travelling and even going to the park can all be activities done from your office. Of course some places are more conducive than others which is why I’ve pulled together a Locals’ Guide to Edinburgh cafes for the footloose and office free start up entrepreneur. Whether you are a plugged in programmer or a high energy sales person the selection below are my top tips for mobile office working.


BrewLab Brew Lab Bar

Two great reasons why BrewLab rocks: Sockets and students. There’s actually tons of reasons why BrewLab rocks from the fab food and superb coffee but the ones that matter here are all about getting power and being able to sit for a few hours undisturbed. Seating wise there’s a number of tucked away one / two person tables and almost always a powerpoint nearby. Even better with so many students lounging you can crack on with work without feeling like you are the only one hogging tables. Wifi activation requires a check in from Facebook which isn’t ideal for undercover operations but is more than worth it. The seating is pretty snug so save those very important phonecalls for when you have finished your coffee.


Traverse Bar

If you are looking for a bit more peace and quiet then I can’t recommend the Traverse Bar enough. Even at its busiest there should be a corner table free, and its bunker like qualities are ideal for hosting clandestine meetings and hatching plans. Phone coverage is best for O2 in the bar area but you can always make calls upstairs while accessing the wifi next to the Box Office foyer which has tables, sockets and space to pace while you’re on the phone. Less cosy than the bar downstairs its functional feel is just what you need for cracking through a chunk of work. The rewards are waiting behind the bar below. Wifi: TraverseBarCafe Password: TraverseBarCafe


Broughton Deli

“Welcome to my office…” is the well worn phrase I’ve used in the back room of the Broughton Deli for years. A table with two old church pews for seats is the perfect base for strategy meetings over cinnamon scones. The room is just off the main cafe space and if there’s a few of you you can book it in advance. Phone reception isn’t amazing so it’s best used for a well fed session of laptop based work. The food is delicious and the service laid back & leisurely so you’ll not get disturbed too often. Wifi: Broughton Deli Password (at the time of writing): bluetrain


Stag Espresso

I love Stag Espresso for meetings. Based in the Dovecot Studio it’s a hidden oasis of bright clean lines, delicious food and an air of calm. Not quite the place to spend an entire day in (not really a laptop farm) but if you want exude the air of swan-like cool for meeting key targets then let Richard and his team set the scene at Stag. There’s not officially wifi but in case of emergencies the signal from the Dovecot has been known to show up. Ask nicely at Gallery reception for the password.


Waverley Gate

I’m slightly cheating here as the foyer area in Waverley Gate isn’t strictly a cafe although there is a wee coffee kiosk with sandwiches, cakes and coffees in the corner. You won’t be here for the coffee mind. You’ll be here because it’s a great place to take a seat, get set up for the day and work away undisturbed at minimum expense. Of course you might be visiting Amazon or Microsoft in the building and have arrived early or stayed on late to get work done. All of the offices have wifi codes and you can click here to see one regularly made available to visiting guests.

The above list doesn’t take in any of the main chains which are great as you know what you are getting in most places and they have their own individual advantages. It might be:

– Proximity to the train station (Starbucks on Leith St)

– Decent reliable broadband

– Close to other startups so you can bump into folk you might be desperate to meet (cafes near CodeBase, Skyscanner and Rockstar). Prizes for anyone who uses the ordering system to secure an introduction:startup

When you do secure that seed round and finally get a permanent office I totally recommend getting your own coffee machine so you are reminded of edgy early days of start up land every time you try and make a phonecall while somebody is grinding beans or frothing milk.

Ah, the sweet sounds of start up success….






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Whilst I love to hear startup success stories closer to home – I find it equally inspiring and heart-warming to hear stories of entrepreneurs creating enterprises that support families and quite literally change the life of the entrepreneur and the lives of their family for the better.

Today I wanted to highlight one success story which touched me.

Meet Esterlita, a 58 year old lady from the village of Malibangcao, Ozamiz City in the Philippines. At an age when many of us in this country might be thinking about slowing down or retiring even, Esterlita is busier than ever – with good reason, she has seven school-aged children to support.

Esterlita received a loan of $125 from Kiva to get her agricultural business, growing and selling coconuts and bananas, off the ground. Had she not been able to access a startup loan like this then Esterlita would not have been able to expand the business in the way she has which would have had an impact on her ability to support her family, Esterlita expanded her venture by planting and growing more coconuts and
bananas than ever before. By increasing her volumes, she now earns around 5,000PHP or approximately $115 per month which has allowed her to pay off her startup loan and more importantly she is now able to support herself and has dramatically improved the standard of living for her family.

If you want to find out more about Esterlita, you can see visit her page on Kiva.

I personally think it is fantastic to see a woman entrepreneur creating a profitable enterprise to lift themselves out of poverty. Really inspiring stuff I’m sure you’ll agree.

A guest post by Liz Goldman for Wonga.com – the UK short term loans provider and one of
the biggest corporate supporters of Kiva.

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Once upon a time I signed up for Twitter so I could crash the Edinburgh Twestival 2009… and tomorrow 24th March the Edinburgh Twestival is on again! The fun starts 7pm-1am at Hawke & Hunter (near the Omni). It’s a wonderful Twitter + festival party with all sorts of entertainment and cool folks, and many thanks to Geoff Kennedy (@idle_bull) for offering the inside scoop in all his excitement [Tickets here til they sell out!]:


It’s 1.13am Wednesday the 23rd March 2011 and realisation that ‘that Twestival thing‘ I got involved in is iminent!

Well we’ve certainly been ambitious with EdTwestival this year! We’re looking to build on the success of previous Edinburgh Twestivals with even more people there on the night, and if all goes to plan; more cash raised!

As ever the mix is pretty electic. We have bands, cupcakes, a mind reader, drinks (of course), prizes galore (a hell of a lot of prizes), a DJ, a Foursquare Superswarm attempt (very geeky), boardgaming, a photobooth, goodiebags, silent auction, even an opera singer! This doesn’t even cover half of it! (more…)

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Office SpaceAbout the author: Rob Clymo writes on behalf of www.officegenie.co.uk, the UK’s first proper online marketplace for desk space and shared office space.

Starting up a new business involves sorting out all manner of priorities, not least of which is finding office space where you can run the operation. Of course, many start-ups don’t require an awful lot of office space, and individuals are probably happy working from home initially. (more…)

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Why is Dropbox more popular than other tools with similar functionality?” This question was recently posed on Quora, and  the following answer from Isaac Hall – co-founder of a product competing with DropBox – blew my socks off. It is a great skill to take onboard lessons from competition without the usual bitchiness, bitterness, or jealousy that can blind us from learning. I thought Isaac’s insights were very worthy of re-posting, so you can have a look if you haven’t already. Note to self: keep your product simple so you can innovate rather than problem solve, a good video goes a long way, and make sure your PR company has actually tried using your product. Isaac‘s full answer below:


As a co-founder of Syncplicity, a service that competes with Dropbox, this question has been on my mind for years. We launched within a few weeks of Dropbox, we had multi-folder synchronization & read-only sync, and we were a few years older than the Dropbox kids. I’m very proud of the service we put together and am happy to see the service shift towards businesses, yet Dropbox kicked butt. Here’s why: (more…)

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As a startup you have a million things to think about, and unless you’re offering bungee jumping or fire eating lessons, insurance is probably not top of the list. As much as we love a living-on-the-edge lifestyle, we thought it might be helpful to get the scoop on insurance and hear what’s relevant – and not relevant – to rock ‘n roll startup life. Thanks very much to Emma Jowett, resident writer at Policy Expert, for putting this together in response to all our questions! We tried to sing this to the tune of “12 Days of Christmas” but alas… you’re better off reading it here. We hope it helps!

1. Kitchen table kick off
2. The wheel deal
3. Look after number 1
4. Connect and Protect
5. What could go wrong?
6. Well hello clients!
7. Team building
——  (more…)

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Our Stanford REE Series continues with ‘Lessons from Failure’ from Heidi Roizen’s keynote speech. By guest blogger Jill Lin.

Learning from failure is not an unfamiliar theme in the context of business. Heidi Roizen, who is the founder of Skinny Songs, a former Venture Capitalist and a role model of fearlessness for entrepreneurs, provides an insightful explanation and many practical examples in her talk on ‘Lessons from Failure’.

The greatest lesson on failure is that of trying to figure out why, most of the time, the product is great but the company fails. (more…)

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Our guest blog post today comes from Rachel Lane – currently a digital planner at Blonde. Rachel and I were talking about the challenges of managing Twitter, Blogging and general social media in a personal and business capacity whilst catching up last week. Comments below please!

Perhaps it has been the level of tactical detail bolted to social strategy commissions; perhaps it’s the vacuous social networking research which gets crowd-surfed around Twitter or perhaps it’s the pressure to maintain numerous social profiles, but I am so over social media.

It’s frustrating that a territory so fundamentally about people and human behaviours gets shrink-wrapped as a web technology. We haven’t changed how we communicate; we’ve just got more flexibility in communication channels. The flow of words may increase or decrease depending whether they travel by landline, mobile, call, text, instant message, tweet, Facebook message, email, letter … but the dialogue structure is pretty consistent.


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WikiJob logo This post is part of our “Crowdsourcing: Wisdom from the Community” feature which contains guest bloggers from the local Edinburgh startup community. This post is from Chris Muktar, owner and Director of WikiJob, a wiki-style employment site that allows users to swap insight about careers, interviews and assessment days at major London employers.

Although Chris now lives in London, he’s an ex-Edinburgher who still keeps an eye trained on northern affairs.

My business, WikiJob, is a successful company that helps graduates get jobs. This year it will turn over around half a million. I’ve learnt a few things along the way, and I’d like to share them with you: work how much you want to make, invest small amounts of money, and don’t quit. (more…)

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