Startup Accelerator 2023 Cohort

Startup Accelerator 2023 Participants
The final showcase of this year’s Startup Accelerator is hours away. Tonight (Thursday 11 May), six of this year’s participants will leave with a share of £30,000 in equity-free funding to make their business dreams a reality.

This year’s cohort isn’t short of creative flair and boundary pushing ideas and amongst the 16 businesses taking part, seven are alumni of RGU.

We caught up with some of them ahead of their final pitches to find out more about their business and plans for the future.

Highland Moss - Pamela Adamiec

After finding therapy in growing houseplants, Pamela Adamiec and partner Craig Troup decided to make a business out of it. They started an online shop with a few plants and moss products and started selling them – soon momentum built and the couple soon opened a physical shop space.

Where Pamela found looking after her plants great for her mental health, she discovered that other houseplant lovers were experiencing the opposite.

She shared: “Buying the plant was the easy part but it was the aftercare that stumped some people. Not long after we opened the shop, we noticed that people didn’t know how to look after their plants and when the plant fails, it caused a negative impact on mental health. We thought ‘wouldn’t it be cool to have a shop that doesn’t just sell the plants but also supports people too?’ - and here we are.

“You’ll find our shop on 61 Constitution Street in Aberdeen, where customers can shop our plants, buy our special soil mixes. Different from other plant shops, we offer our free Plant Hospital service and AI Mossbot to give tailored one-to-one advice specific to the customer and their plant. It’s really a one-stop-shop for houseplant care – somewhere you can rely on getting the right help and advice.

“Our plants come with a specific QR code on the side which takes the customer to a specific care plan for their plant. We offer that full-circle approach to make the process that little bit easier and maintain those positive mental health properties that houseplants bring.

“We’re taking the fear out of houseplants and make them accessible to everyone.” 

Highland Moss

Setting the business out against competitors is the couples use of moss to create displays big and small. The couple have even supplied 13 square meters of moss for an exhibitor of this year’s Chelsea Flower Show.

The use of moss is very much part of the business’s growth plans and building on providing the niche product to support positive plant growth.

Craig said: “We really do have a passion for moss and our plan is to make a more sustainable source of moss coming from Scotland. Right now, imports are coming from New Zealand but our supply here in Scotland is ready to serve the Northern Hemisphere. But there’s a big education piece to deliver on the benefits of moss in plant wellbeing.

“That’s just one of our many ideas we have for the business but taking part in the Startup Accelerator really made us focus on our strategy and create that defined path forward. Prioritising the tasks that we’ve always been putting off has helped us get to the next level and moving our business along so we can reach our goals.

“It’s almost been like going back to school with assignments and deadlines, but it’s all been worth it to get that focused time to sit down with things like our marketing strategy. It’s given us a look at the bigger picture and broken down the journey so we can see the steps ahead.

“We know what we want to achieve and if we’re fortunate enough to win the equity-free funding, we have a clear and strategic plan laid out for maximising the most out of the investment.”

Find out more

Overlook Digital – Grant Learmont

Seeing a gap in the market to offer marketing support to SMEs that don’t have the time to manage their marketing or the budget to meet agency fees, alum Grant Learmonth offers Overlook Digital as a solution.

The idea came during his studies in MSc Digital Marketing when he created a website for a fictitious business of a similar concept. Shortly after, the opportunity to take part in the Startup Accelerator presented itself, an opportunity he didn’t think he’d get.

Grant Learmonth

He said: “I saw an email about the startup accelerator programme and filled out an application on a whim not expecting the get through. I was accepted onto the programme and the rest is history.”

Overlook Digital offers a cost-effective marketing support that suits small budgets. But before entering this year’s Accelerator programme, Grant had his work cut out to take his concept from idea to viable business. Something he credits to the Accelerator process.

“Having access to the great mentors and members of the Accelerator Team who have great perspectives that challenge your business idea has been influential for me. Over the past few months, I have been able to build my initial concept into a fully-fledged business.

“My biggest learning from this process is that taking advantage of other people’s knowledge is the key to growing your business. It was important to keep paying attention in the sessions and asking questions especially with the different guest speakers we had. Learning from others mistakes and how they would have done things differently saves a lot of headaches further down the line for your business.”

With eyes set on the future, Grant plans to use the funding to invest in the company’s capabilities in content creation with specific focus on video production.

“Video production can be very expensive and agencies tend to pass the cost onto their clients, the funding will allow the business to provide high quality services at lower prices which is a key element for the business.”

Find out more

Assetworx - Joshua Ekekwe and Wissam Nacef

Two architecture graduates from Scott Sutherland School of Architecture have teamed up to create Assetworx – a subscription service for architecture, engineering and design students to access a library of high-quality dynamic and technical assets.

Created as a solution to a common hurdle during their studies, Joshua Ekekwe and Wissam Nacef brand Assetworx as ‘the missing piece for your creative needs’. The platform gives students access to digital assets to use in their projects, saving them a lot of time and hassle.

Joshua Ekekwe
Wissam Nacef

Joshua shared: “Finding the right digital assets can be a real challenge. The process can be time-consuming with files either difficult to search for or are from unsafe sources. Even when you do find assets, they often lack quality, consistency and the ability to edit freely.

“This is a problem both Wissam and I experienced in the search for design assets. Not having a centralized place made the process both difficult and exhausting.  We had to look for files on risky sites which increased the chance of losing or corrupting files – a frustrating process.

“If there we had a centralized marketplace with a vast database of assets, it would have made it easier for us and other students to find what we needed. That’s where the idea for Assetworx came from.”

The Accelerator process has been a learning curve for the pair, taking them from their design backgrounds and placing them in the world of business. “I’ve been pushed beyond my comfort zone for sure” Joshua shared.

“But the push has been a positive one. The biggest takeaway for us would probably be the importance of being persistent and consistent. You don't know which door will open up your next opportunity. That’s something we’ve learned from the experiences of the wider cohort.

“Getting advice from members of the cohort and sharing ideas has been incredibly helpful for developing our business and the contacts we’ve made will be invaluable as we continue our journey. 

“As a freelance designer, I’ve designed the logos for some of the other participant businesses taking part this year. There’s a real sense of community within the group and it’s empowering to have that support network in place.”

If successful in securing the equity-free funding, the Assetworx team plan to use the investment to develop the platform and hire designers to support the project.

Alturo - Kirsty Main

After experiencing suicide in the family, Kirsty Main had the idea to start a web platform that helped others find the support they need to deal key social issues. With a background in web development and media, she teamed up with friend Amy to create Alturo – a social enterprise and referral platform for support.

Pulling in resources, local groups, charities and helplines, the platform acts as a centralised hub of information to signpost people to the support they need.


She said: “There’s so much information out there and when you’re in need of help, it isn’t always easy to see the path ahead. Alturo removes the hours of scouring the internet and houses relevant support listings in one place.

“Take a man who is experiencing mental health issues as an example. He would use Alturo to find groups and forums that could help. And the platform is also there for friends, family and colleagues to find support for someone that may not be in the position to look for help themselves.”

The platform is listings based, where service providers create a profile that includes key information for users to find and access the support they need. This centralised approach is something that Kirsty found was mirrored for her through the Accelerator process.

“The programme pulls everything a startup needs into one place. Coming from a creative background, the fundamentals of running a business was completely new to me and Accelerator helped create our action plan for getting things up and running.

“We’ve definitely built momentum since we started the process and it has allowed us to maintain pace to keep moving things forward. 

“I can’t believe how quick the final pitch has come around. The additional funding will allow us to kickstart key development of the platform by hiring full-time contractors to build the site and speed up the delivery of support significantly.”

Find out more

Watch the Showcase

The Startup Accelerator Showcase will be streamed live on Thursday 11 May from 17:30.

Cookie Consent