That’s my response to having won at this year’s Scottish EDGE Awards! Having never applied for ‘that sort of thing’ or even been part of a pitch process before it would be fair to say I only entered after I was advised ‘you should be applying for this type of event, it might help’!
As a producer in Kirriemuir I often felt the entrepreneurial world, so familiar to those in the city were distant and far away from our rural Bothy which can often feel quite isolated.
Despite our mammoth efforts to innovate – which has led to us producing UK winning products – I’ve tended to avoid networking opportunities, feeling disconnected with the energy that business support agencies can offer. I favoured the “just get on with it approach” and had never asked for help because I thought these types of competitions were for IT gurus and tech start-ups.
Well, how wrong! Turns out, if you have the confidence to put your head up and apply you never know what the result might be!
Being part of the Scottish EDGE process in 2017 has changed my mindset completely and introduced me to a world of entrepreneurial support I never even considered when starting up Gin Bothy.
The first pitch in November was key. From 240 applicants only 57 were invited to present. And after taking part in the Innovate Hub in Aberdeen I started to feel excited by the level of professionalism and support available. I receiving excellent feedback and began to think perhaps this IS something I am ready for.
Successfully making it to the final 20 applicants was a bit of a rollercoaster. It was peak Christmas trading season for us. I was time and energy poor and if Steven from Scottish EDGE hadn’t kept me on track I really wouldn’t have continued. My practice pitch was a disaster (for anyone reading this that’s considering applying - my advice is make time to familiarise yourself with the venue and practice). I hadn’t and it showed!
On the 14th December, just 11 days before Christmas I travelled to the Royal Bank of Scotland’s Gogarburn Conference Centre to take part in the final. The buzz in the auditorium was infectious. I felt a strong sense of camaraderie with people I had never even met before because we were all sharing the same passion to succeed in our fields. There was nothing pretentious or artificial about the experience, it was real! The quality of applicants was amazing - from science initiatives, gaming and online retailers to food producers and engineering and science developments – all of which blew my mind Scottish talent and passion by the bucket load in every pitch!
During my pitch, I hadn’t planned to be funny, but it seemed to come out that way and it was the fastest 3 minutes of my life!
Although I applied for £35,000 - because that was what was needed immediately to make an improvement on our production output - I was asked by the panel what I actually needed.
I had never considered the possibility of asking for more. I’m an essentials-only kinda girl and so used to running to tight margins I hadn’t allowed my “what if” head to surface. But I guess I was thinking short-term and not medium term!
I think that’s what the Scottish edge process has taught me, look up and think of the “what if” and have the confidence to ask.
On hearing the announcement that Gin Bothy had not only won but were being awarded double what we had asked for the tears flowed.
I’m not normally speechless but writing this I’m still overwhelmed and filled with emotions of hope, excitement and the knowledge that we can now not just steer the business in a competitive sector but we now have the resource to drive the business.
For me it has been another deep breath in an incredible growth journey and the fact there are people in business that both believe and support me was really overwhelming, that meant as much as winning not just the amount I needed but being awarded more.
The boost to my team and improvements I can make to servicing customers from the investment will benefit the whole Gin Bothy community!
Thank you to everyone who has supported me in this process and I’m now a supporter of the entrepreneurial landscape, I guess I’m part of it!