Name: Gaynor Duthie.

Age: 30.

What is your business called?

Genoa Black.

Where is it based?

South Queensferry, which is in the City of Edinburgh Council area.

What services does it offer?

Strategic consultancy and marketing services.

We have worked with clients across a range of strategic challenges domestically and globally including repositioning, new market launch, internationalisation, securing investor funding, stakeholder engagement, diversification, acquisition and integration.

To whom does it sell?

Business leaders in the UK and globally across a hugely diverse range of sectors.

What is its turnover?


Despite the economic impact of the Covid-19 coronavirus crisis , we secured 22 new clients, including five international accounts, and recorded our strongest financial performance in our eight-year existence.

When the pandemic hit, we focused our approach on relationship management, supporting and working closely with our clients in any way we could and created a new strategic advice programme, ‘Chaos to Clarity’, to support Scottish business leaders.

How many employees?


When was it formed?


Why did you take the plunge?

Quite honestly, I had nothing to lose and everything to learn.

I was very lucky to be in the position where I had limited commitments and the opportunity to work together with Claire and Alan Kinloch, co-founders, to build a business we all believed in passionately.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

I had just returned from working in Australia for two years and I was working as a director and trustee with an ambitious Scottish social enterprise Orkidstudio (Now BuildX Studio) in Zambia.

In fact, I remember speaking with co-founder Claire from one of the building sites we were working on at the time about the idea of setting up Genoa Black.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

Genoa Black was started with an Ikea desk, a laptop and one client.

We have grown quickly in spite of limited investment and start-up funding. We reinvest our capital back into the company, specifically on talent and talent development. Our business is our people.

What was your biggest break?

We’ve had a number of breaks including securing large-scale projects for The Edrington Group [whose brands include Famous Grouse whisky] and the Gigaclear broadband business in England and winning the HSBC Award for International Professional Advisor.

However, for me our biggest breaks were our successful tenders for the Scottish Enterprise Expert Support framework and Scottish Development International’s International Sales Growth Programme.

For the last four years we have been the preferred supplier for strategic consultancy and as a result we have had the opportunity to work with more than 500 businesses across Scotland through that framework alone. This has been critical to developing our knowledge as a team, and the success and growth of the business.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

People and what I learn from them.

I learn from clients, contacts and the team every day and I think this has been critical to growing the business. Putting your hand up, asking for help and involving others (internal and external) in developing your business is critical.

What do you least enjoy?

As a team we are very close and refer to ourselves as the GB family. What I least enjoy or struggle with is making difficult decisions that I know might be challenging for the team but are right for the business. It is always difficult for me to separate my personal relationship with our team from my responsibility as a director and owner of the business.

What are your ambitions for the firm?

Our opportunities are limitless and our ambition continues to focus on building a strong, stable, sustainable global business with potential expansion in the US and Far East during the coming years.

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

In Scotland I think there is a wealth of support available for businesses, but the critical thing will be how the governments manage their way out of the current crisis and into the new normal.

Engaging and listening to business leaders about what they now need to move out of the current environment will be fundamental to business and economic recovery.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

The importance of investing in culture. We have invested significantly in establishing and building our culture over the past few years and that has without a doubt helped us remain resilient, focus and grow despite the economic challenges over the last quarter.

How do you relax?

In normal times my priority would be to relax with family and friends. Fresh air, a lot of laughter and a glass of wine is a winning combination for me.