Meeting Virgin StartUp entrepreneurs in Edinburgh

While I was in Scotland to celebrate the groundbreaking of Virgin Hotels Edinburgh, I also wanted to experience the entrepreneurial spirit of the city. Virgin StartUp had invited three business founders to a special mentoring session – so I couldn’t resist dropping in and seeing how they were getting on.

They were halfway through the session when I sprung my surprise on the entrepreneurs, and they quickly got me up to speed on their companies. Celia Hodgson shared her brilliant business Hey Girls, which is tackling period poverty with a ‘Buy One Give One’ model. I particularly loved the packaging, which featured women who had volunteered to support the business and were customers too. It reminded me of how we always try to involve our wider teams in the design process at companies like Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Trains. Hey Girls was the winner of our first Virgin StartUp 10: Scotland – our search for best 10 start ups in Scotland – and I could see why.

Pooja Jain discussed CogniHealth, a digital companion for people with dementia and caregivers. The app offers innovative ways of approaching dementia care, an issue we have supported for many years. Again, I really liked the design, and could see how important personalised support for carers could be. 

The mother and daughter team behind Sustainably told us about Sustainably, their fin-tech start-up that gives to causes you care about every time you shop. I loved the simple idea of rounding up everyday transactions and giving your spare change to chosen good causes. Another Virgin StartUp: 10 Scotland finalist, I liked their expansion ideas too, soon adding options such as Instant Happiness to allow one-off donations.

Our Virgin StartUp10 Scotland Judge, Jackie Waring, was leading the discussion. Having run three businesses, she also leads Scotland’s only all-female business angel group, which has made several investments in female led tech businesses. I’m sure it was very valuable for the other entrepreneurs to gain her insight too.

It’s always great to hear from new entrepreneurs with fresh ideas – and they often spark new ones from me too. As always I had my trusty notebook on hand, which I’d recommend every entrepreneur and inquisitive person does. Best of luck to all the entrepreneurs and I look forward to crossing paths with you again soon. If you’re eager to launch or grow your business, head over to Virgin StartUp.

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