How to start a successful business in Scotland

Scottish entrepreneur Rossie Stone of Dekko Comics talks us through the pros and cons of running a business in Scotland.

11 February 2019

Hi Rossie. Tell us a bit about Dekko Comics.

We make educational comics and entertainment. We take the school curriculum for subjects such as maths, English and history, and turn it into comic book stories that convey the same information in a more entertaining way. Currently our comics are aimed at children aged between nine and 12, but we’re looking to expand our age range as we grow.

By communicating the information through visuals and sensory methods, we help children who might struggle with conventional learning due to conditions like autism and dyslexia. We want to make reading material that is easier for them to understand and remember, and that is a more enjoyable alternative for all kinds of readers, even kids who are already doing well in class.

Why did you first decide to go into business?

The business is based on a revision technique I used for my own high school exams. I was dyslexic at school and always did badly in tests. I thought if I was going to fail, I might as well enjoy it, so I turned my revision notes into comic strips. It made everything so much easier to understand. By turning the information into visuals and stories, I managed to turn my grades from Cs into As for the very first time.

I wanted to make more of this method, but I didn’t want to put the power in the hands of someone who didn’t get the vision or who was purely money orientated. It felt like in order to grow the idea and let it become something that would benefit a lot of children, I needed control over it. I decided that the best way to achieve that would be to start the business myself.

What’s the best thing about running Dekko Comics?

I get to do work that I’m passionate about. It’s work that means something to me, and it’s worth getting out of bed in the morning for. You feel you’re making a difference, particularly when you see the testimonials come back from people who have used the comics, saying all these lovely things like “You’ve got my child reading for fun for the first time,” or, “My child doesn’t think they’re stupid anymore”.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of basing your business in Scotland?

The competition in Scotland isn’t quite as saturated as it would be in London or England, so it’s quite a good place to get a business started. There’s a lot of business support here, and because there are less companies to contend with, you can get people’s attention more easily.

The other side of that coin is that the richest pools of sales and attention, where your product can really take off, aren’t always in Scotland. Those opportunities are often in England, or in other parts of Europe and America. It’s a two-sided thing. I think the attention you’re more likely to get is a good thing, but the fact that Scotland is away from the mainstream is probably a disadvantage.

There are also a lot of talented creative people that come from Scotland, but they often move away to places like London or America, wherever the big studios are. As a creative company, I’d like to tackle that by basing my business in Scotland and doing high calibre creative work here. I believe in hiring anyone who’s good at the job, no matter who they are or where they come from, but it will be easier for people who live in the country to apply locally. I hope that I can help contribute to Scotland being a bigger player by basing our business here.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs looking to start businesses in Scotland?

Apply for every grant and competition that Scotland has to offer. Go to networking events, because you’ll get a high percentage of the best and brightest start-ups appearing at business networking events in Edinburgh or Glasgow.

Take advantage of the business help and support that’s on offer in Scotland. The pool of businesses is smaller than it is in England, so you’re more likely to be noticed and receive support.

I applied for Scottish EDGE, a big Scottish business competition, and got into the finals. Although it’s a big event, I felt it was accessible – I didn’t feel like I was competing against millions, just a few thousand. Even though we didn’t win, we still got attention and had people contacting us after the event. So my advice is to take any opportunity that Scotland has to offer, because you’ve got a higher chance of getting noticed here that you would in other parts of the UK.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Rossie.

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