What was your first job after leaving school/further education?
During University I ran a small events company and coached at George Heriot?s.? When I finished, my first full-time job was as President for the Edinburgh University Sports Union.? I was elected for the job and was in charge with running sporting affairs within the university.? Long hours but a lot of fun and responsibility.
When did you start your business & what prompted you to do it?
The brainwave for LoCa came during my second stint at University.? I incorporated the business in Aug 13 but didn?t start work on it till the following year.? I was studying an MBA, decided I wanted to carry on being my own boss and did some research into the industry.? It felt like the right thing to do.
What did you find most challenging at the beginning?
Securing investment; like many other business owners, capital was difficult to come by but a bit of perseverance helped change all that.
Who did you ask for advice & why did you choose them?
I went to my network and through that was able to meet a talented team ? Stewart, Keith and Chris.? Stewart, my mentor and a director in LoCa has a lot of industry knowledge having run one of the largest Whisky companies in the UK.? Chris and Keith had both worked with Stewart before and run their own design agency.? Off the back of that team, we managed to get Ernie, Gavin, Jock, Colin and Mark on-board and together I am delighted with the level of experience and talent we have at our disposal.
How did you fund your business?
A chance encounter with a CEO of a footwear retailer led to a meeting which lead to an investment.? I had other options available to me, but Colin and his partner, Mark, seemed like the best fit.
What would you do differently now looking back?
Nothing, during the fundraising and design processes, I got very frustrated with the lack of pace with regards to developments.? My mentor and I clashed on the topic but he kept me patient and as a result progress so far has worked out perfectly.? Ask me again in 5 years and I am sure there will be a whole string of mistakes to share.
What or who has helped you to grow your business the most?
Stewart, my mentor has been the strongest influence.? He is a great coach, and is very experienced.? His belief in me helped convince others, in particular the investors, to get on-board with this venture.? Without his support and guidance this business would no doubt have failed already.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced?
Naivety and inexperience are always my biggest enemy but they also are a strength if used correctly.? On the day of production I realised the cases we ordered for our bottles weren’t fit for purpose and re-ordering the correct options would have been very pricey.? Luckily the distiller we were using uses the same bottle as us so we were able to buy some off them.? Had we not been able to, we would have spent ?3.50/case as opposed to ?0.95.
Relying on other parties also creates a risk but picking the right suppliers is key and ensuring good communication channels is a must.
What are the future plans for your business?
Grow, grow, grow!
We are looking to create a multi-national brand, right now we have 2000 bottles in a warehouse, in three years? time I?d like that to be 20,000.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to set up their own business?
Go for it, it is hard work but it is also very rewarding.? Once you?ve taken the leap, you wonder why it took you so long to make the transition in the first place.
Tell us something about you that isn’t commonly known.
An exciting fact is I once held the world record for the longest Jaeger Bomb train.? If you look hard enough you?ll find the video on Youtube.
And finally, why did you join WeDO?
Belinda charmed me!? I had heard great things from friends who were involved and it seemed like a great community of like-minded people.