Name: Colin West.

Age: 50.

What is your business called?

Eyecademy Ltd

Where is it based?

Primarily Glasgow city centre. We recently expanded into Newcastle.

What services does it offer?

We provide data and analytics consulting services. This involves helping our clients to understand and apply their data to drive insights and informed decision making.

To whom does it sell?

Private and public sectors organisations. In 2018 alone we helped companies in 19 sectors, including central government, local authorities, financial services, food and drink and charities. We deliver projects throughout the UK, including England and Northern Ireland.

What is its turnover? £2.1m.

How many employees?

32. This year alone, we’ve hired nine new employees, and we are currently recruiting for new data experts to join us.

When was it formed?

August 2008. Despite 2008 being an extremely tough trading year due to the global financial crisis, we took a chance forming Eyecademy and we’re thankful it paid off.

Why did you take the plunge?

I had just completed the successful sale of my previous business and saw there was still a market opportunity in Scotland to build again. The data industry in Scotland is booming, and there are so many opportunities for innovative companies to grow right on our doorstep.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

My previous business, Eclectic, was a successful Business Information services provider based in Glasgow delivering both bespoke and off-the-shelf training courses. We spent eight years building Eclectic with partnerships with firms such as Orbital, Business Objects and Sybase before selling the business in 2007.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

I used my own funds to start the business, and we remain a privately owned company to this day.

What was your biggest break?

When we were awarded an early, but hugely significant contract, with NHS Scotland, supplying all health boards in the country with bespoke software training and consulting services. This stabilised the business through difficult market conditions and provided the launchpad needed to grow. While we now focus on consultancy, our software training and knowledge transfer courses are what established our reputation and set the scene for future success.

What was your worst moment?

The business went through a significant transition in early 2018 where we faced the challenges of staff retention for the first time. Losing staff we had grown with and invested in over a single business quarter was very tough. While working within SMEs offers huge advantages to employees, sometimes bigger players within the industry capitalise on their size and awareness to offer more in terms of remuneration and perceived stability. I’m delighted to say we transitioned this challenge very strongly.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

Evolving and developing people and watching them winning. I believe strongly that employee development is the formula to success (with most other things merely plumbing) and watching our team grow and succeed motivates me.

What do you least enjoy?

Wasting time in too many meetings!

What are your ambitions for the firm?

To evolve and grow our capability through the data journey that all businesses will have to address if they seek advantage. We see significant opportunity in this area and have aggressive growth targets .

What are your top five priorities?

Executing our strategy would be our main focus.

Our further priority areas are: Profitability; the retaining of key skills; securing additional funding, and evolving and producing our ideas.

We currently have what we think is a disruptive innovation project in development in the construction waste management sector alongside City of Glasgow College, which is one of our main areas of focus over the foreseeable future.

The project is intended to allow construction firms to use data concerning past jobs to help them make better predictions of the amounts of material that will be required on contracts in order to reduce wastage.

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

Reduce Corporation Tax, but also push more funding into developing the digital skills required now. There is a significant skills gap between what our clients need and what school leavers and graduates have, and this will only get wider if the Government doesn’t focus on developing our workforce as technology advances.

There should also be encouragement provided for more new and focused business locations outside the cities. Our own expansion into Newcastle is extremely exciting for us. A Government-funded national innovation centre for data is being developed in the city.

There are many locations both in Scotland and beyond that could be new hubs of innovation if supported.

What was the most valuable lesson you have learned?

Trust your vision and the strategy that was your inspiration. There are many challenges you will face when you grow a business – recognising it is not a race to exit is key, rather investment in people and capability are what matter most.

How do you relax?

Getting into the hills, – I’ve climbed over 200 Munros with my wife, daughter and our springer spanier, Ella. I’m a keen golfer, comic collector and model builder!