IN this week’s SME Focus the young innovators behind a novel recycling venture provide evidence of the vibrancy of the emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem in Scotland.


Scott Kennedy, Fergus Moore and Rebecca Richardson.


All 22.

What is your business called?

Revive Eco Ltd.

Where is it based?


What does it produce, what services does it offer?

We offer a waste rejuvenation service, meaning we collect the used coffee ground waste from coffee shops, restaurants and hotels. We then process it to create an all-natural, 100% recycled plant food.

There is approximately 500,000 tonnes of coffee ground waste created every year meaning there is certainly no shortage of the main raw material we need for our plant food. More and more people are buying environmentally friendly gardening products.

Whom does it sell to?

Our customers include both the coffee-selling companies from whom we collect as well as green-minded consumers who use the plant food.

How many employees?

There’s currently just the three of us but we’re hoping to start growing the team over the next year or so.

When was it formed?

May 2015.

Why did you take the plunge?

Whilst studying in our second year in the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship at Strathclyde university, we were tasked with creating a socially-beneficial business concept and developing this concept throughout the year. We began by looking into the issues facing society and discovered just how big an issue food waste had become to both the economy and the environment. We decided to focus on this area and specifically on coffee waste to see if we could find a method to rejuvenate it. We all worked in cafes, restaurants and bars and had seen first-hand the massive volume of coffee waste going straight in the bin, and several of our managers in these cafes and restaurants suggested looking into ways of re-purposing the used coffee to create additional value from it. We dug deeper into the coffee waste issue to try and discover different things that the coffee waste could be used for, and our research identified that we could turn this used coffee into a highly effective natural plant food, and so, Revive was born.

We are extremely passionate about entrepreneurship and innovation generally and know Revive has the potential to have a massive environmental impact, which is really important to us. Also, having the ability for us to make all the decisions and be as creative as we like was a real driving factor leading to us taking the plunge.

There’s an incredible entrepreneurial ecosystem growing throughout Scotland at the moment and to be a part of that is incredibly exciting and motivating, and I think we’d have always regretted it had we not taken the plunge.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

We raised a small amount of start-up funding through various business competitions and organisations. The competitions include the Values and Ventures Business Plan Competition at Texas Christian University as well as the Young Innovators Challenge, run by the Scottish Institute for Enterprise. We’ve also received grant funding from The Prince’s Trust Scotland, Jobs and Business Glasgow and a joint Santander and Strathclyders into Business initiative.

What was your biggest break?

We’ve had a couple of big breaks which have helped expand the business. For example winning an award at the Values and Ventures Competition and the Young Innovators Challenge in 2014. Starting to sell our products in Tinderbox stores and Dear Green coffee roasters was a huge step for us and has opened up many more doors.

What was your worst moment?

As a start-up every moment is littered with things that could possibly kill off our business. This keeps us on our toes and means that we have to be able to react to things quickly, but also to be proactive in avoiding too many huge risks.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

Being able to move and implement things so quickly. One of us could come in first thing in the morning with an idea and by lunch we could have fully implemented it into our business plan. There’s also the fact that every day is a new learning experience for us.

What do you least enjoy?

Whilst there is a lot of great support in Scotland, we feel that there is still a negative mentality towards entrepreneurship, failure and risk taking. In Silicon Valley people are celebrated for attempting to start another business after their first one failed; in Scotland there still seems to be a bit of a “well he failed the first time, he’ll probably fail again” mindset. Constantly being told the statistics of the number of start-ups that fail and having people tells us we’re taking a huge risk gets tiresome very quickly. Yes, we have a whatever percentage chance of the business failing before year three and yes we’re taking the risk of not taking a wage for a couple of years. But, we would much rather take a really good shot at something and fail than look back in 40 years and imagine what could have been.

What are your ambitions for the firm?

To aggressively grow Revive throughout Scotland over the next year. We know that we have a scalable business and aim to expand Revive across many countries, which would allow us to create a real impact in terms of both recycling and green consumerism.

What are your top priorities?

Build a sustainable business; grow and scale up the business into new cities across the UK; bring together a group of coffee shop owners, gardeners and green fingered individuals to create an ‘eco-mmunity’ of like-minded people; create huge environmental benefits in all the areas we are operating; continue to think entrepreneurially and keep innovation and creativity at the core of everything we do.

What single thing would most help?

As with most start-ups, the most important thing in order to grow and sustain our business is funding. Even a relatively small amount of funding would allow us to scale up our production and move from being a small start-up into being a fully operational and sustainable business. We are looking at many avenues to access funding; grants, loans, investment etc. We are hopeful that we will launch a crowdfunding campaign sometime in 2016 but that still needs to be finalised.

What could the Westminster and/or Scottish governments do that would help?

There is great support out there for start-up companies, from both government bodies and private organisations. However, there are definitely areas which could be improved.

The government could do more to support the individuals themselves that are starting the company, possible in the shape of some kind of Entrepreneurs Start-up Fund, which could financially support those starting businesses. Like a great deal of start-up entrepreneurs, we all work part-time jobs (often between 20 and 30 hours a week!) on top of driving the business forward which can take it’s toll.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

Whether you’re at the very earliest conceptual stage or looking to become fully operational, there are a number of individuals and organisations that can help you out. Entrepreneurs are more often than not willing to mentor and advise startups.

How do you relax?

Right now, it feels like we rarely have the chance to relax. But, recently we’ve taken it upon ourselves to make sure we take time to relax as working all day every day really takes it out of you! A cold beer usually does the trick.