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Think Bigger – Build companies not products

Last week StartEDIN partnered with KPMG to launch the first in a series of Tech Leaders dinners in Edinburgh. Hosted at the delightful La Piazza restaurant, we invited along 12 guests from the Edinburgh community for an evening with our highly respected guest speaker, George Elliot.

With over 25 years working in the tech sector across various roles such as business development, sales and marketing, production, business planning and having held the position of CFO at Wolfson, George had many valuable insights to share.

Having been introduced by our host, Russell Dalgleish, George began by sharing his colourful story with the entrepreneurs around the table.

George spoke of a very successful career operating as non-executive chairman for 18 companies, being behind the workings of 3 IPO’s and maybe better known in the Edinburgh tech scene for closing the Two Big Ears deal with Facebook (you must ask to hear the story if you meet him). Still bringing merit to those he works with, George currently sits on the board of Craneware, Calnex, Cooper Software, Optoscribe, VisionWare and Par Equity.

Once everyone was aware of George’s background, Russell invited those around the table to direct the conversation and explore challenges of individuals at the dinner.

Over the course of the evening, we touched upon technology, business planning, selling and marketing, competition, raising finance, managing, building a team and the entrepreneurial mind-set.

As the evening came to a close Russell asked everyone to share what they had learnt from the evening which was energising as I believe everyone had received value from George and were eager see how these lessons could be applied to their business the next day.

Some thoughts I’ll share with you from the evening:

  • Whether you like it or not technology companies compete on a global stage
  • Being first does not mean that you will succeed
  • Large companies find it difficult to be innovative, this creates opportunities for smaller companies
  • It’s harder for large companies to find and connect to small companies, much easier for small companies to find and connect with large companies
  • Think big! – build companies not products
  • Be passionate and focussed –work hard and never give up!

Thank you, George, for sharing your advice and stories on the above and more it was of great value to myself and our guests.

I would also really like to thank our sponsor KPMG, La Piazza for the service provided and those who came along to the first dinner, I personally found a lot of value in the openness and advice shared by the group.

We have received great feedback from the dinner:

the group was small enough to allow everyone to participate, but large enough to have a diverse range of opinions shared”

An atmosphere was created where “people felt comfortable enough to be honest and open about experiences”

“for the entire course of the evening everybody remained on topic in one conversation that we all participated in”.

We are excited for the next one and I’m delighted to have the privilege of being able to welcome along Michael Anderson, San Diego based author, speaker and Leadership expert as guest speaker to our next StartEDIN Tech Leaders dinner on Monday 10th of April.

Check out other opportunities to meet with Michael Anderson here.

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