WHEN it comes to big data, it's big companies that have the advantage. After all, most small firms simply don’t have the technical capability or management expertise – never mind the time – to analyse data, even though it could give them a competitive edge.

That’s where x10 Solutions comes in. The Glasgow-based consultancy does the hard work for them, analysing data and looking at trends, presenting it in an accessible way that helps them improve customer experience, pinpoint efficiencies, increase profit and plan for the future.

Founded by accountants Karen Dinwoodie and Kevin Cowan after their previous forecasting business was bought by a big software player, the partners decided to focus their new venture on data analysis for SMEs. Since then they’ve gone from strength to strength, working with companies across a diverse range of sectors, from hospitality to renewables to the creative industry.

“We feel very strongly about the importance of helping SMEs get the most out of their business,” says Ms Dinwoodie. “We know what it’s like to be a small company working hard – that’s what we are. Big companies have the type of IT, research and development budgets that allow them invest in technology, artificial intelligence and enterprise software. Small businesses need help with that, and that’s what we’re here for.”

The Finnieston-based duo have just invested in their own future, taking on two graduates to augment their own skillsets.

“It’s all about the blend,” adds Mr Cowan. “We all compliment each other. I concentrate on business development, while Karen looks after the technology and delivery side of things. I also love the patterns and the data – often I come up with ideas and Karen tells me whether we can take them forward or not. It works well for us.”

Taking full advantage of the vibrant Glasgow tech landscape has also worked well for the company.

“The nature of the tech sector means you have the opportunity to work with people all over Scotland, the UK and beyond,” says Ms Dinwoodie. “But Glasgow definitely has a strong entrepreneurship culture and offers lots of support for start-ups.”

The pair met while working in the corporate world but with two successful companies to their names, they have no plans to work for someone else.

“We drafted the idea for our first business on a bit of paper in a café, worked it up to a tangible product people would pay for, then pushed on to create a business out of that,” explains Mr Cowan. "That process has been very rewarding for me.”

“The buck stops with you and that comes with responsibilities,” agrees Ms Dinwoodie. “But it’s where I want to be, making my own decisions, being free to do what you think is best for the business. I like it that there’s no one to tell you what to do and how to do it.”

RBS has played a part, too, placing x10 Solutions on its entrepreneur accelerator scheme, offering a host of business services and benefits.

“The accommodation facilities have been helpful, but more important has been the expertise and networking opportunities," explains Mr Cowan. "Bouncing ideas off others helps you take a step back and think about your business from a different angle. And it improves your resilience.”

As for the advice she’d offer others looking to make their mark in the tech industry, Ms Dinwoodie believes finding the right partners is vital.

“If have a good idea find somebody to work with who has knowledge of the domain you’re trying to enter,” she says. “This could be an advisor or an early adopter of your technology. Build something that is valuable to those you want to use it.

“Having a business partner also helps. When times get hard you have the energy of the other person to help get you through. Perseverance is the most important business skill of all.”