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Insider UK
Kenny Kemp & Peter A Walker

35 rising stars of Scottish business aged under 35

Scotland’s future does not and must not depend on government hand-outs.

A post-pandemic nation will flourish on the back of young entrepreneurs with the vision and the ‘get-up-and-go’ to make things happen. This is why Insider is recognising 35 Rising Stars of Scottish Business, all under the age of 35.

Why choose 35? It’s an age and a point in time where business people can reflect on their first dozen or so years in the work environment, learning how to deal with colleagues, build networks and develop their thinking.

Of course, our list includes several people in their early 20s who are already impressing their peers and, we hope, will continue on their positive journeys.

Furthermore, we are not discounting the fact that most successful entrepreneurs in Scotland emerge long after the age of 35. Experience coupled with entrepreneurial opportunity are a benefit of successfully reaching a later working age. However, anyone enjoying those senior years of retirement will look back and wistfully says that 35 was a brilliant age, but they were often too busy to enjoy it.

Our selection is refreshingly diverse, with individuals from across Scotland’s industry sectors. All have been nominated by admirers, business associates and peer leaders.

So here's the list in full:

1. Chris McCann, 32, Current Health

Without comparison, one of the business success stories of 2021 has been the progress of Current Health, which has been bought in October by US-based consumer electronics retailer Best Buy for £293m.

Co-founders Christopher McCann and Stewart Whiting began the company with a focus on how technology could help the sickest patients receive care at home and avoid hospital admissions. This led to the creation of an all-in-one device that continuously and passively monitors patient health with the same accuracy as an ICU monitor.

Chris said: “Over the coming decade, significantly more healthcare can be delivered in the home - we started Current Health to make that exciting transition radically easier for healthcare providers to achieve.”

The size of the deal makes it one of the biggest exits of a Scottish start-up and Europe’s second-largest digital health exit. Edinburgh-based angel syndicate Par Equity can expect a huge return after it invested in the business over six rounds.

Business Inspiration: We’re guessing that Chris is a big fan of venture capitalist Reid Hoffman, who he follows on social media.

(John Jeffay)

2: John Souttar, 25, Maison Dieu Coffee Roasters

John Souttar is currently enjoying his finest spell as a footballer with dominant displays for Heart of Midlothian, a first goal for the national team and an imminent summer move to Rangers.

It is a remarkable turn of events after a career blighted by injury. But it was following a setback after his second achilles tear in August 2020 that John began to consider a life away from football. This is where the idea for Maison Dieu Coffee Roasters took hold.

The coffee roaster and cafe, established with partner Kayley and former teammate Euan Spark, opened in Brechin, in November 2021. John has thrown himself into every aspect of the business, from roasting beans to becoming a proficient barista. He is also conscious of the ethical issues facing the coffee industry and, as such, Maison Dieu has a close relationship with its partner farms to ensure growers are paid a fair price.

Business inspiration: His father, former Brechin City player and coach, Jack Souttar.

3: Dr Ishani Malhotra, 28, Carcinotech

Dr Ishani Malhotra, chief executive and founder of Carcinotech, has eight years’ experience in oncology and stem cell research and a certificate of achievement from Harvard Medical School in cancer genetics.

She was listed as a Director of the Year Regional finalist at the Institute of Directors Scotland 2021 awards and has established significant international partnerships to advance Carcinotech’s vision of providing personalised drug testing platforms to help those suffering from cancer.

Ishani founded Carcinotech in 2018 to solve the issue in cancer research that leads to 90% of drugs failing at clinical trials.

Business inspiration: “Our chairman Albert Nicholl who has been advising the company’s strategy for more than a year now.”

4. Kieran Coyle, 32, Premiership Partnership

Kieran Coyle is an award-winning business leader, having created Premiership Experience aged 19, following a brief career in professional football.

He has grown the business from an initial concept in 2010 to become a global brand that works in partnership with the most prestigious names in the sporting and entertainment world, with offices in the UK, China, the Middle East and Australia.

Kieran has also ventured into property development and investment as well as market-entry consultancy.

Business inspiration: “My family. [Kieran’s Dad was a professional footballer too] I’ve been brought up with old-school values to work extremely hard, maximise opportunities and remain humble.

5. Ross Powell, 25, Cashmere Circle

Ross Powell, an energetic environmentalist, is driving greater sustainability into the fashion industry as co-founder and chief executive of Cashmere Circle.

Recognising the importance of garment care and repair to sustainability, the company blends traditional textile-mending techniques with seamless logistics and a luxury touch to keep quality knitwear pieces in circulation for as long as possible.

Business inspiration: Belinda Dickson. “As my co-founder and adviser, she has instilled in me a business toughness and never-say-no mentality and has been an incredible mentor that I’m very grateful to have met.”

6. Calum Crichton, 25, Murrayshall Country Estate

Last year, Murrayshall Country Estate at Scone appointed a senior management team with high-level experience at Gleneagles, Turnberry and The Belfry to lead the development of its 40-bedroom hotel, restaurants and golf courses.

At just 25, the youngest team member was sales and marketing director, Calum Crichton. He was previously sales manager at Dundee’s Holiday Inn Express and sales and marketing coordinator for the GI Group.

Calumhas played a leading role in re-positioning and re-branding Murrayshall, significantly increasing its average daily room rate, despite the pandemic and preparations for major expansion.

Business inspiration: Andy Main, global chief executive of Ogilvy, who is ‘truly inspirational and also a Fifer’.

(Stewart Attwood)

7/8. Alasdair Crawley, 33 & Mikey Crawley, 29, Fanbase

Mikey Crawley played rugby at Scotland Under-20 level before becoming a product owner at PayPal.

Alasdair Crawley has worked at FTSE 100 companies as a management consultant, going from business analyst to board director at Optima.

The brothers spotted a gap in the market in 2019 when helping a local rugby team – that there was no well-designed software to help teams easily engage with supporters and manage core revenue streams digitally.

Business inspirations: “Our Dad has always been two steps ahead, is a high-energy, creative thinker and has built successful companies. Also, Marty Bell, creator of Tens Sunglasses and Poolsuite.”

9. Diana Peralta, 34, DP Global

Diana Peralta is the founder of DP Global, an international business development consultancy that works with chambers of commerce and governments, in Scotland and overseas, to unlock opportunities for Scottish businesses internationally.

She is also the founder of LATAC Scotland Network, a newly-created social enterprise that promotes Scotland in Latin America and the Caribbean region, helping create cultural connections and trade opportunities.

Business inspiration: “My inspirational businessperson is Poonam Gupta OBE at PG Paper. As a female entrepreneur who also made Scotland her home, I admire her determination, self-belief, and resilience in building a successful business.”

10. Bruce Walker, 22, Purist Gin

Bruce Walker is the 22-year-old founder and chief executive of award-winning Scottish start-up, Purist Gin. Entrepreneurial from a young age, he built the business from scratch during the pandemic, drawing on distilling and sales experience.

Six months after launch, Purist Gin won London Dry Gin of the Year at the Scottish Gin Awards 2020. Since then, leading a team of four, his focus lies in further expansion. In 2021, Bruce was shortlisted for Young Business Person of the Year at the Glasgow Business Awards.

Business inspiration: Steven Bartlett, founder of social media agency Social Chain.

11. Caitlin White, 28, fatBuzz

Caitlin White began her career in the marketing industry six years ago, after graduating from Strathclyde Business School.

Having initially started as a part-time assistant, she has had experience in every marketing role within fatBuzz, and is now head of marketing, servicing clients from almost every industry from property security to hospitality.

Business inspiration: “My Dad, Gordon White, managing director at fatBuzz. I learnt so much in the first few years of my career from watching how he works. He taught me the importance of client relationships, and this has really shaped the way I work today.”

12. Chris Hughes, 26, Present Pal

In 2014, Chris Hughes was a student with dyslexia at the University of Strathclyde and realised the results of his business degree would rely largely on his ability to present to his peers.

After consulting with the university’s disability service and dyslexia experts, Chris realised that there was no direct or accessible solution for presentation anxiety.

With Chris determined to ensure that his public speaking fears didn’t lead to his exclusion, he created Present Pal, a presentation support software that enables users to deliver more confident and prepared presentations. He was named Young Business Person of the Year in the Glasgow Business Awards 2021.

Business inspiration: Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn.

13: Matthew Lamb, 28, Journey Specialist Consultant

Matthew Lamb strategically enhances the customer journey for an ever-growing client base using his inimitable ‘wallpaper technique’. This year looks bright for him, with continued corporate application while completing his PhD in customer journey.

Matthew’s new book Around the World in 80 Events reflects on his global feat of attending 80 different international events in succession. It will be followed by a second book Double Decker Bus , where everyone gets to go on a journey.

Business inspiration: Bob Iger, former chief executive of The Walt Disney Company.

14. Milly Batchelor, 29, NatWest/SFE

Milly Batchelor works in youth banking at NatWest Group, chairs Scottish Financial Enterprise’s Young Professionals Network and was named Rising Star at the 2021 Women in Tech Excellence Awards.

She is passionate about unlocking the potential of future leaders and technology to amplify the positive role of financial services in society. The 800-strong network provides support, development and access to senior leaders and policymakers, enabling members to drive change on topics they care about.

Business inspiration: “The co-founders of Too Good to Go, Jamie Crummie and Lucie Basch, who are combatting food waste. I’m also inspired by what Mark Carney is doing on climate change.

(Chris Watt)

15: Andrew O’Riordan, 27, SnapDragon Monitoring

As an inventor himself, Andrew O’Riordan understands the ramifications of intellectual property infringement, working diligently and professionally to keep global clients’ brands safe online.

Over three years, he has developed into a senior team lead, directing eight professional and expert specialists, delivering outstanding results, such as removing fakes from Amazon in less than four minutes.

Andrew’s contribution to SnapDragon, and the removal of more than £100m of fake goods from online platforms in the last year, is significant.

Business inspiration: Elon Musk. “He’s inspired me by positively disrupting every industry he has worked in.”

16: Varun Sudhakar, 30, BetDEX

Varun Sudhakar is the chief executive and co-founder of Edinburgh-headquartered BetDEX, a cryptocurrency sports betting platform, which recently secured the largest seed investment round into a UK start-up.

He co-founded BetDEX with former FanDuel colleagues Nigel Eccles and Stuart Tonner, and says of Eccles: “Nigel has been an invaluable mentor and sounding board over the years, always encouraging me to make the leap to start my own business.”

Business inspiration: Nigel Eccles, chief executive of Vault Laboratories and chairman and co-founder of BetDEX.

© Sandy young Photography 07970 268944 AccelerateHER Awards Semi Finals at the Technology and Innovation Centre, Glasgow E: W: ** credit should read** (Sandy Young,

17: Dr. Alicja Dziecol, 32, SilviBio

Dr. Alicja Dzieciol founded SilviBio, a tree-seed coating start-up, to respond to the growing global tree-seed shortage.

With many net zero pledges relying on ever-growing tree planting commitments, limited tree-seed stocks must be used effectively. Here, Alicja’s technologies increase germination and seedling survival rates, thereby directly addressing climate change.

She is currently working with Forestry and Land Scotland to help increase their nursery productivity and also works with international clients to address their forestry needs.

Business inspiration: Her business development advisor, George Lindsey, a GlobalScot with 30-years of upper-level business experience.

18. Chris Sibbald, 28, Finsbury Glover Hering

Chris Sibbald started his career in the founding team at Charlotte Street Partners, before joining Tesco Bank as head of communications, and is now part of the founder generation at Finsbury Glover Hering.

He passionately believes business can enable greater social and economic inclusion and is an advocate of young people being better represented in decision-making, especially through culture and the arts.

Business inspiration: Sir Angus Grossart, for his belief in long-term investing and supporting talent.”

19: Habibur Khan, 25, The Radhuni Restaurant

Habibur Khan, 25, is managing partner of The Radhuni Restaurant in Loanhead. At the age of 23, in 2019, Habibur became the youngest person to win a major award at the British Curry Awards.

Starting as a kitchen porter in the family business as a teenager, Habibur has led the 120-seat Indian-Bangladeshi restaurant to a series of awards including Scotland’s Curry Chef of the Year.

The Radhuni’s latest honour is inspiring a flavour of Walkers Crisps. The Madras Curry flavour was inspired by one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes.

Business inspiration: My father, Matin who is a former Scottish Curry Chef of the Year.

20: David McIntosh, 23, KPMG UK

The first apprentice to specialise in management consultancy in Scotland in a Big Four firm, David is pioneering a new path.

His work within KPMG’s infrastructure government and healthcare team has contributed to positive outcomes for communities across Scotland, leading to winning 2021 Best New Apprentice at the MCA awards and 2020 BPP UK Apprentice of the Year.

David joined KPMG in 2017 and established the firm’s social mobility network in Scotland. He is now founder and chair of KPMG’s UK Social Mobility Network leading more than 500 colleagues and representing the firm globally on social mobility.

Business inspiration: Ben Francis, chief executive of Gymshark: 'a transparent visionary – all stakeholders are part of the ride'.”

21. Gaynor Duthie, 32, Genoa Black

Since joining at its inception in 2013, Gaynor Duthie has helped transform Genoa Black from a start-up with one client to a business with a multi-million-pound turnover.

In 2020, having secured the UK’s highest-ranked B2B strategic consultancy award, her relationship management and drive to deliver quality culminated in her being appointed to managing partner.

She’s since grown the company’s international offering with offices in Edinburgh, London and Houston.

Business inspiration: My father, Peter Duthie, chief executive of the SEC. He has a strong focus on the importance of excellent people management, talent development and building great teams to succeed.

22: Helena Murphy, 31, Raising Partners

Helena Murphy founded investing firm Raising Partners in 2017 after she struggled with £100,000 of personal debt from a business venture that failed.

The growth of the business led her to create an angel syndicate to invest in start-ups that she has helped nurture through Raising Partners.

Murphy says her team has helped raise about $41m. Its angel syndicate lets active investors access high-quality investment opportunities that have been through rigorous fundraising processes.

Business inspiration: Colette Grant, co-founder of Grant Property. “I’ve worked with Colette for over a year and she’s completely transformed how I approach business and my personal life for the better.”

23/24: Emily Rogers, 29 & Claire Rampen, 31, Reath

Claire and Emily are the co-founders of Reath; an Edinburgh start-up using digital passports to tackle the global pollution crisis.

Together, they authored the first Open Data Standard for reusable packaging, providing a blueprint for how single-use items could be transitioned to reusable, with the help of digital technology.

They have been backed by organisations such as Innovate UK, The Open Data Institute, and funded by investors such as Techstart VC and CVC Philanthropy.

Business inspiration: For Claire it's Peter Williams, former CEO of Telefonica Alph, and for Emily it's Melissa Trahan, former director of people at Thread.

25: Aldin Wilson, 34, Trapar

Aldin Wilson is the founder of Trapar, which allows consumers to plan, book, pay and validate different types of transport and personalised hires.

During nine years with the British Army, he managed the supply and demand for fuel and lubricants to his unit, as well as booking and arranging transport.

Aldin believes that every person deserves access to reliable and affordable transport, so set out on a mission with Trapar to address these needs head-on.

Business inspiration: “I have admired the work of Sir Richard Branson.”

26: Elaine Ford, Electrek Explorer

Elaine Ford is an artist and entrepreneur based in Edinburgh. Her work concerns our interaction and engagement with, and the conservation of, the natural world.

The growing need to take climate action, while increasing connections with nature for physical and health benefits, led Elaine to found Electrek Explorer.

The company is developing an app that identifies wild places, citizen science projects, and how to access these using electric vehicles and e-bikes. It is currently developing its first pilot in the south of Scotland.

Business inspiration: Murray Collins, chief executive of Space Intelligence.

27: Matilda Lomas, 32, The Scottish Salmon Company

Matilda Lomas is the biology and cleaner fish coordinator at The Scottish Salmon Company, who has overhauled its cleaner fish strategy.

Cleaner fish can be used to naturally and sustainably manage sea lice, reducing reliance on medicinal or physical removal. Cleaner fish feed on sea lice present on the surface of salmon without causing harm and have proven highly effective in controlling sea lice numbers.

Matilda’s success at Loch Striven and the revised strategy is being deployed across the business.

Business inspiration: I was inspired by a supportive manager, Abby Irish, when I first joined the company. She recognised my strengths and encouraged me to take on new challenges.

28: Matthew Walker, 26, Savora Drinks

Savora, co-founded by Matthew Walker, specialises in premium mixers crafted for pairing with tequila, much like how tonic is recommended for pairing with gin.

Launching a new product into the hospitality sector during 2021 was never going to be easy, but Savora has had some big wins since launch, including achieving a Great Taste Award and becoming the best-selling cocktail at its first Edinburgh stockist.

Matthew was also shortlisted for Scotland’s Food & Drink Entrepreneur of the Year 2021.

Business inspiration: The Go Radio Business Show’s Podcast with Sir Tom Hunter and Lord Willie Haughey.

29: Gregor Sey, 29, Boozy Events

In 2020, Gregor Sey created virtual cocktail-making classes that took the world by storm over lockdown, but with an early focus on corporate team building and employee appreciation.

In 2021, his company Boozy Events surpassed £1m worth of cocktail experiences sold and continues to win business from companies like Amazon, Google and Microsoft.

Boozy Events was named Drinks Business of the Year at the Society Awards 2020 and Gregor was shortlisted for Scotland’s Food & Drink Entrepreneur of the Year in 2021. In 2022, Gregor plans to make his mark in the drink sector with Savora Drinks.

Business inspiration: Ben Francis, chief executive of GymShark.

30: Gemma Sole, School for CEOs

Gemma Sole, lead partner for inclusion and diversity at School for CEOs, is shaking things up with her own brand of reverse mentoring.

Gemma’s thought leadership has enabled her to develop effective learning interventions that change mindsets, shift cultures and drive positive momentum. Case studies include working with senior leaders in financial services and delivering high-impact programmes for female leaders.

Not only is Gemma making an outstanding contribution to her company, but she is also contributing to the significant improvements her clients are making on their diversity and inclusion agendas.

Business inspiration: Her Dad, former rugby legend David Sole.

31: Fraser Kirk, 34, United Capital

As the communications director of United Capital Investments, a business that has grown group turnover to over £70m in under three years, Fraser Kirk has not only shaped the strategy and messaging for one of the fastest-growing businesses in the UK, but has guided a team to ensure the continued growth of each of the group’s subsidiary businesses.

While it continues to be more difficult to be heard, Fraser has leveraged all aspects of the business to cut through the news ‘noise’ to grow visibility and engagement, critical to the success of the business.

Business inspiration: “I continue to be inspired by my fellow board members at United Capital, but my inspirational figure is Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA.”

32: Roy Hotrabhvanon, 27, PlayerData

Roy Hotrabhvanon is the chief executive and co-founder of PlayerData, an Edinburgh-based sportstech company.

He is a former international athlete, with a background in computer science and electronics.

Together with co-founder Hayden Ball, they have grown the business to supply over 100 teams across the U.K enabling mass access to cutting edge technology for the first time. PlayerData is approaching its next phase of growth, with international expansion on the horizon.

Business inspiration: Bob Iger, former chief executive of The Walt Disney Company.

33: Dr. James McMinn, 31, Bellrock Technology

Dr. James McMinn, lead developer at Bellrock Technology, began programming aged 11, and as a teenager designed websites for local small businesses and organisations.

In 2008, James began studying computer science at the University of Glasgow and over the Christmas break of his Honours year, created an Android app called Writer, which today has well over a million downloads.

He began working at Bellrock Technology in 2018 and is now part of the senior management group, leading the development team.

Business inspiration: Mark Logan, former chief operating officer of Skyscanner. “He has been instrumental in helping to develop and accelerate the technology sector in Scotland.”

34: Aidan MacMillan, 28, Par Equity

Aidan MacMillan qualified as a chartered accountant with Deloitte and spent three years in the transaction services team focusing on technology and industrials.

Since joining Par Equity in 2018, he has taken a lead on 40 deals, making him one of the most prominent dealmakers in Scotland. He also serves as a board observer for 13 of Par’s 44 portfolio companies.

A particular highlight was Aidan’s role working on Current Health, which he picked up during the Series A round in 2019 and guided the business through two US-based corporate venture investments, its oversubscribed $43m Series B round and eventual $400m exit in November 2021.

Business inspiration: My business inspiration is Carolyn Jameson, of Trust Pilot and formerly with Skyscanner.

35. Assean Sheikh, 34, Flavourly

Assean Sheikh, co-founder and chief marketing officer at Flavourly, the online craft beer specialist, has made it easy for consumers to find their favourite beer from a variety of independent small-batch craft brews.

He is proud that the business has provided a route to market and guaranteed volumes for independent breweries throughout the pandemic.

While the hospitality trade halted, not a single Flavourly partner brewery closed. Since launching, he has grown the business to more than 450,000 customers.

Business inspiration: Elon Musk. “For his first principles thinking and for pioneering new exciting industries.”

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