Alumni in Focus

James Galbraith

James Galbraith

He moved over from Canada to study Marketing at RGU, but little did he know that he’d be leaving with a content production agency in addition to his degree.

The final showcase of this year’s RGU Startup Accelerator 2024 take place on Thursday 16 May which sees startup businesses pitch for additional equity-free capital. 15 businesses take part in this year’s cohort made up of alumni, staff and students of RGU and ahead of the final, former participant and student, James Galbraith shares a glimpse into the process.

Originally coming to RGU to study an BA (Hons) Digital Marketing, James fell in love with Scotland and decided to stay on and progress through to Master’s study. A passionate videographer, he and three classmates spotted a gap in the market during their studies to setup an agency that oozed creative flair. “We weren’t wanting to do anything groundbreaking, just differently and in a more creative way,” he told us.

“We all brought different strengths to the table. Videography, photography, SEO, digital marketing and we thought, ‘why not package this together for clients?’. But we were aware that none of us had experience running a business and we needed guidance. That’s why we decided to apply to RGU’s Startup Accelerator.”

Under the name Snap Digital, James and his colleagues made their way through the process in 2018 and reaped the benefits of the programme. They received equity-free seed funding which they used to invest in essential equipment to allow them to take on client work and gained access to free office space, something James saw huge value in.

“Having co-working space was awesome for us. Being surrounded by other startups all on the same path as us was hugely motivating and beneficial. We may have all been on different stages of the startup journey, but we would all share ideas and experiences to help each other out.

“Being able to get that kind of insight and learn from the mistakes of others was great for us – it was a real community.

“The support you get through the process is invaluable and I’d say to anyone taking part in future cohorts to tap into all your support avenues. The mentors and resources are there for a reason and that’s to help you grow. You need to get out of it as much as you can and you can only really do that if you put the effort in to make the most of the experience.”

The theme of drive and ambition came up a few times in our conversation and a key component in the startup journey for him. Albeit a positive experience for him, James shared some words of caution to future participants looking to get involved.

“You have to make sure your passion for what you do is there – without it, you’ll not fully benefit from the process.

“Time is a huge factor of the process. There are key milestones to meet and homework to hand-in, not forgetting regular evening and weekend sessions to attend. It can be pretty full-on, so you really have to be organised and put in the effort.

“Just get involved and make the most of the process. Getting the chance to be at the Showcase and bring everything we worked on to the public eye was so cool. Seeing all the people we started the process with just an idea to then have a tangible product or service to talk about was great.

“For us, it was a chance for us to reflect and really see how far we had come through the process and created something we were really proud of.

“We went on to build our client base at Snap for the next couple of years and worked on some great projects. It can be easy to just go from project to project, but remember to look back at how far you’ve come and appreciate all the things you’ve experienced, good and bad.”

To hear more of James’ experience as an international student from Canada and his role now, watch his interview with RGU.

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