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Cohort of Scots Tech Entrepreneurs Selected for SXSW Programme



A 14-person cohort of Scottish tech entrepreneurs has been selected to travel to Austin, Texas next month for a programme of growth-related activities under the Foras excursion initiative.

The upcoming trip, which will take place between 6-14 March, includes full access to the prominent South by Southwest (SXSW) conference, a reception with local venture capitalists (VCs) at the Wilson Sonsini Austin HQ, and a startup showcase in front of an audience of international VCs and buyers.

The SXSW 2024 startup Cohort Programme was designed by Foras co-founders Dec McLaughlin, Nick Murray, and Carolina Melendez. The delivery team also includes Robert Gelb of Campfire and Amy Wallace of Bracken Grove, alongside Greg Zienkiewicz of CreateGreg.

It’s supported by the Scottish Ecosystem Fund 2023-24 from the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise, and follows the successes of similar past Foras cohort trips to Silicon Valley, NYC, Helsinki, and Lisbon.

The Foras cohort initiative is aimed at making connections with the wider US startup community, peer learning, investor engagement, and learning best practices for building world-class tech business.

The initiative’s goals complement the 2020 Scottish Technology Ecosystem Review, published by the Scottish Government’s chief entrepreneurial advisor Mark Logan. Logan recently said: “To succeed, our startups must be as good as the world’s best startups. Our founders need to be outward-looking, learning from world-class techniques and frameworks, and from those who have already built global tech companies.”

The 14-person cohort of Scottish tech entrepreneurs are as follows:

  1. Don Smith of 1nhaler
  2. Colin Gray of Alitu
  3. Ana Betancourt of Black Goblin
  4. Damien Roux of Drimify
  5. Mathew Norbury of FC Labs
  6. Daniel Marrable of Forumm
  7. Joe Gibson of Gibson Robotics
  8. Anne Lanc of Ionburst
  9. Camila Jimenez Pol of Konpanion
  10. Hamish Geddes of Lenz Labs
  11. Sheena Johnstone of Nursery Story
  12. Jen McLean of Raven Controls
  13. Emily Rogers of Reath
  14. Dominic McCann of Siccar

The cohort was hosted at Thorntons Edinburgh HQ last week, on the back of the announcement of their long-term partnership with Foras.

Alistair Lang, partner and head of ventures and innovation at Thorntons, said: “Congratulations to the 14 founders selected for the Foras SXSW excursion. It’s a phenomenal opportunity to learn more about what it takes to grow a successful, global business and forge new connections. We’ve already had the pleasure of meeting the cohort and we look forward to further supporting their journey as entrepreneurs.”

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Caro Melendez, Foras co-founder, also commented: “We’re excited to bring together another diverse cohort, not only in the industry focus and aspiration but also in age, ethnicity, gender and lived experience, representing Scotland’s eclectic entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

“These excursions encourage peer connectivity, rapid growth and inspiration, and the importance of looking ‘up and out’ to global markets when scaling a business from Scotland.”

Ana Betancourt, CEO of audio design tech startup Black Goblin, remarked: “SXSW is a beacon for innovation and creativity, and for Black Goblin it represents a huge opportunity to connect with US leaders in the creative sector as well as understanding the investor ecosystem. We are also very honoured to be given the chance to represent Scotland’s creative industries with our upcoming product Thol in such an important global stage.”

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