Co-founder of the Edinburgh University Industrial Society, George Makintosh, tells us how to become a British industry success story.
|Degree Course||Bcom - Commerce General|
|Year of Graduation||1979|
Your time at the University
I’m a farmer’s son from Inverness. Edinburgh seemed a long way south but being the only pupil from my year at school to make the journey was an attraction. And as soon as I got to the city, I liked it a great deal. The atmosphere and setting of the University felt good.
I found the course at the Business School more fun than it was work because I liked business and wanted to be in business. My objective was and has always been to set up my own business.
With my great chum Paul Yates, I co-founded the Edinburgh University Industrial Society. We would make visits to see local industries, although, ironically, many of the places and plants we visited are no more.
Tell us about your Experiences since leaving the University
The big plan was to be in my own business. At that time being an “entrepreneur” was unusual and the term unfamiliar. While the word entrepreneur is now perhaps over-used, then it was decidedly pompous or academic or simply “off”. For me, it was about creating my own show!
After one failed business in the world of PC’s, I got into the world of conference call services. The key for me is having some ownership in the businesses I’m in. I’ve set up from scratch, been in partnerships, raised venture capital and acquired. I’ve been fortunate enough to have successfully sold companies to Verizon and Level 3 Communications.
I feel like I have been a part of a British industry success story.
I founded TestPlant (an automated software testing company) in 2008 and it’s doing well. It was an honour to receive the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the International Trade category in April 2013. We have since received the award from the Lord Mayor of London, met the Prime Minister and had the huge pleasure of meeting Her Majesty, The Queen at Buckingham Palace.
I feel like I have been a part of a British industry success story. I may have liked to drive tractors on the farm and even went on to be a semi-professional race driver, competing in races all over the UK and Europe, but it is in making software where I have found success. Creating a business with people, forging a brand and managing customer relationships in over 30 countries has been demanding, fun and rewarding.
I hope my story inspires people to make things. Software, engines, diggers and modems are all products, all contributing to British industry. I’m happy to have played my part.
Consider that invention is the easy bit. Execution is tough. It’s about people, customers, offices, and cash flows. So good luck in your business adventure. It will be a long road - but be bold.