WHAT’S the best part of the UK to start and grow a business? According to Callum Murray the answer is easy: Scotland.

“There’s so much support out there and people really want to showcase start-ups,” says the Edinburgh based entrepreneur. “Any young person out there with a good idea has a great chance of creating a successful business, even more so in Scotland than in London. The connectivity and eco systems exist, all you have to do is reach out for help – the opportunities are there for the taking.”

And if anyone should know it’s the 33-year-old, already a veteran who has experienced both the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. Indeed, by the age of 23 Mr Murray, originally from Bo'ness, had already established, grown, almost lost then re-built a painting and decorating company that employed 10 people at its peak.

And that makes his current success with tech start-up Amiqus ID all the sweeter.

The company launched its unique identity software in 2016, and works with an array of clients across the legal, financial services, property and recruitment sectors to collect, analyse and handle customer information, erasing the need for the physical checking of passports and utility bills.

“Customer data collection and retention is a massive responsibility for companies, especially with new data protection rules,” explains the young CEO. “Asking people to turn up with their passports and bank statements, or submit them over email, is very insecure. Our software removes that risk for firms and can be used on mobile devices.

“Over the last quarter we’ve doubled business month on month and following demonstration to clients we have a 90 per cent conversion and 100 per cent retention rate.”

A successful investment round last October allowed the award-winning firm to increase the team from six to 22, many of whom work remotely across the UK and Europe. And although they are concentrating on the UK market for now, Mr Murray has ambitious expansion plans.

“The focus is on getting things right at home, learning and improving our product,” says the Stirling University business graduate. “But there are clear global possibilities. EU wide data legislation provides a significant opportunity and there’s also a big potential market in the US. When the time is right, hopefully we’ll expand.”

Employing the right staff, says Mr Murray, is key to the success of any business and he is keen to highlight the importance of diversity.

“We have such a very strong team which has a 50/50 gender balance,” he adds. “But it’s also about diversity of thought, the fact that our engineers bring different expertise from whichever industry or location they come from. This constantly challenges our thinking and creates new ideas.

“Many are freelances or contractors, and some are working on projects of their own. We offer flexibility in order to get the right people and skills. The old office-based nine to five isn’t relevant to our model.”

Mr Murray also believes his early experiences as an entrepreneur - which included almost losing his business when customers who owed him money went bust during the banking crisis - are fundamental to the success of Amiqus, which is chaired by former Standard Life chief Sir Sandy Crombie.

“I suffered significant losses in my first business venture, and I had people relying on me,” he explains. “That was tough. I had no option other than to start again. But I knew even then that you can’t wait for someone else to fix things for you. You have to change things for yourself.”

And he is keen to encourage young people in particular to do just that by going it alone.

“Everyone can do this regardless of background, circumstances, or access to capital – I didn’t have any of those things,” he says. “I started with £1000 from the Princes Trust. There’s no rule book, no training manual, you just have to get out there and do it.

“Sometimes you’ll fall down - I wouldn’t be running this business now if I hadn’t failed at the painting company. What matters is having resilience."

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