FOR some people entrepreneurship is definitely in the genes - just ask Calum Smeaton.

“I was lucky because my dad had set up a successful business in the 1970s, and I’d also watched my brother set up a company, so in some ways it wasn’t too scary,” smiles the serial entrepreneur, whose latest firm is TVSquared.

“My dad always used to say being an entrepreneur was about being stupid enough not to know when to quit, and you definitely need to be a bit bloody-minded.”

It takes much more than just good genes to get a business of the ground, of course, and Mr Smeaton has spent the last 25 years working hard to build tech companies with global reach.

TVSquared, the most recent, came into being after he noticed a gap in the market to provide detailed customer insights to TV advertisers.

Since launching in 2012, the firm has grown steadily and now works with more than 700 brands in 70-plus countries to maximise TV advertising, using big data technology to analyse the success of campaigns.

“We help advertisers understand which channels are working for them, which specific programmes on which day, what sort of ad or campaign,” explains Mr Smeaton. “When you apply knowledge to TV advertising you can optimise it, and our clients typically see a 30 per cent improvement or more in their efficiency.

“TV is changing and fragmenting in terms of the way people watch – some are on Netflix and YouTube, some on catch-up, others watching live. Where there’s more complexity, there’s a need for analysis and data, and that’s where we come in.”

The 49-year-old, who started his career as a research assistant at Heriot-Watt University, now leads a team of 80 staff, with 45 based at the firm’s headquarters in Edinburgh, 20 in New York and the rest elsewhere in the US and Europe.

As for the tech entrepreneurship landscape in Scotland, Mr Smeaton believes there are many positives, including “fantastic engineering talent”, though he says accessing capital can be a challenge, as can sourcing the best sales and marketing talent.

“I don’t bemoan it, you accept the good with the bad,” he says. “And going to global markets was never something I was afraid of. Your market will tell you where you need to be – the US spends $70bn on TV, compared to $4bn in the UK.”

And he believes both Scotland and the UK could learn from the US start-up landscape.

“Everything they say about US entrepreneurship is true – you can raise money off the back of one conversation and people are genuinely excited about looking at new ideas,” explains Mr Smeaton.

“In the US big companies are worried that they might miss the ‘next big thing’, so managers get excited about working with new, innovative partners, even when they’re small. People will take a risk on a start-up and you can find finance, customers and the right employees because of the culture there.”

And when it comes to sharing the secrets of his success, the businessman says exploiting networking opportunities is vital – as is a willingness to learn.

“Get out there and talk to people, make it happen,” the CEO says. “You never know who you will meet when you go to a networking event. By making connections opportunities open up around how to start your business and access finance.

“Get all the help you can from the likes of Scottish Enterprise and plot your progress from idea to execution.

“Some people get to a certain position in their career, or get a big title, and they think they should know it all. They don’t put themselves out of their comfort zone by asking for help, and they stop learning.

“When my partner and I started our first business we knew nothing. We had to learn everything about raising finance, going public, selling in the US. We met great people that gave their time willingly and we listened. Since then I’ve always felt comfortable with that."

Would you like to be featured in Herald Entrepreneur? If so, email