Founded in 2015, Leith-based Amiqus, which aims to improve access to professional services, shows what you can do if you learn from your setbacks. Callum Murray set up the anti-money laundering, identity and compliance checks provider after a previous business venture in the construction industry failed during the financial crash.

“We didn't get back money we were owed and started to pursue it,” says the 35-year-old. “Trying to work out what the options were and the chances of success was baffling.”

Mr Murray then retrained in mediation, working on commercial claims, but realised he couldn't scale that business. The experience of trying to navigate the legal system gave him the idea of simplifying access to legal services and doing it online.

“The first step was to make it really simple to engage with a lawyer,” he says.

And so Amiqus ID was born, an encrypted online tool for client onboarding and transaction checks and the company's first product. The scope of the project has since widened to include wealth managers, accountants, estate agents and letting agents.

“What we're really doing is making it simple to access regulated markets for consumers,” says Mr Murray.

Amiqus, which is a strategic partner of the Law Society of Scotland and ICAS, currently has 150 customers that run around 10,000 checks a month. They are all businesses, and individuals’ introduction to the company is through services providers. However, Amiqus is now working on direct consumer engagement.

“We want to open up an avenue for the consumer to use it,” says Mr Murray.

It is a sign that the product has reached critical mass and established its credentials. In the future, Amiqus hopes adoption will be driven by both providers and consumers.

“We've reached a point where the trust in the market should be there,” says Mr Murray.

Trust is important because there is an ethical dimension to Amiqus’s business. This is most clearly visible in a new product named ProxyAddress that helps homeless people access services, but it is also in the company’s DNA, though it isn’t a social enterprise.

“We recognised that we could run the business based on purpose but also generation profit,” says Mr Murray.

For now, Amiqus’s market is mainly Scotland, with 70% of business conducted on home turf, but the company has international ambitions. Of its 30 employees, 15 are based in Leith, with the remaining 15 spread among Lisbon, Belfast, London and Cambridge.

“There's a remote element to our business,” says Mr Murray.

He believes that it is possible to run an international business from one place and that Scotland is a good place to do it, particularly for start-ups. Scottish EDGE is the UK’s largest business funding competition, and Amiqus received £95,000 from it. Now the organisation is a customer.

“There's a lot of support and positive things going on here from government and the agencies,” he says. “Edinburgh is a great place to be, and it's possible to grow a business of significant scale from there.”

When it comes to international expansion, Amiqus's partnership with the Law Society of Scotland provides an important endorsement and has already facilitated links with businesses in Singapore. In this kind of business, Scotland's brand as a jurisdiction also helps.

“Scotland as a jurisdiction is recognised for thinking innovatively,” says Mr Murray.

For lessons in global competitiveness, the company can also avail itself of advice from former Standard Life executive Sandy Crombie. He was appointed chairman in 2017, taking a stake in the company.

Now Amiqus is moving up a gear. It hopes to replicate what it has done in Scotland internationally and to move revenues from a projected £1.4 million next year to £5 million in 2021. To achieve that, it is undertaking a new funding round.

“We’re looking for patient capital to help us scale up,” says Mr Murray.