Meet the Rising Stars regional winners: Scotland’s five top early-stage companies

Kane Fulton, December 1, 2020 5 min read

Rising Stars is the UK’s only national competition for innovative, early-stage tech companies. Last year, two of the 10 companies crowned Rising Stars 2.0 Winners hailed from Scotland – Talking Medicines (from Glasgow) and Neatebox (Edinburgh).

Now, five regional winners for each region and nation across the UK will compete nationally for the chance to be named as one of the 10 winners of Rising Stars 3.0. Read on to find out more about our five Scotland winners – Valla, Frog Systems, LiberEat, PlayerData and Trickle.

Valla

From Edinburgh, Valla is a data platform for the legal industry that is bringing transparency and insight to the legal sector. It analyses millions of legal documents, extracting data and turning them into insights that are easy to understand, helping lawyers and consumers make data-driven legal decisions. Its first product puts a price on discrimination in the workplace. Cofounder and CEO Danae Shell spoke to Tech Nation.

How does it feel to be a Rising Stars regional winner?

There are so many fantastic Scottish startups in our community, so it’s a real honour for Valla to be selected as a regional winner for Scotland. We’re launching our decision support tool for employment lawyers in early 2021, and Kate (Ho, my cofounder) and I are so delighted to have Tech Nation behind us as we work to make legal decisions fairer and faster for everyone.

What is it like being a tech company based in Scotland?

Edinburgh is an incredible place to build a startup. We have talented graduates coming out of our universities and CodeClan, as well as a thriving and generous startup community supported by organisations like Codebase and Turing Fest. We’ve also had a lot of help from Scottish Enterprise in this first year — we’ve felt support at every step!

Frog Systems

From Glasgow, Frog Systems has developed the first dedicated mental health and wellbeing video platform, containing 1000s of short films. It utilises the power of the lived experience to communicate positive messages of hope and support – from those that have survived dark times, to others facing their own personal challenges. The proprietary software, which can be licensed and customised by any organisation, signposts the user to their nearest local support and services, dependent on the video’s content. Founder and CEO Phil Worms spoke to Tech Nation.

How does it feel to be a Rising Stars regional winner?

We’re delighted to have been recognised by Rising Stars as it provides us with an exciting platform on which to build our profile as we look to market and scale the business. Perhaps, more importantly, it gives us the opportunity to explain why we believe, now more than ever, that everyone should have access to stories of hope and encouragement. For those struggling with life’s challenges, it is vital to know that you are not alone, that help is available and that others who have experienced similar journeys have come through them.

What is it like being a tech company based in Scotland?

Scotland provides a great environment for early-stage tech companies in the sector such as Frog to flourish. Its tech ecosystem is large enough to prosper globally but small enough to care, particularly in the Tech4Good space, and we are proud to be a part of it.

LiberEat

Based in Aberdeen, LiberEat makes life easier for people with dietary restrictions. It provides bespoke menus, supermarket grocery options, and recipes to users with options filtered by their requirements, helping businesses such as restaurants and supermarkets become more accessible, and providing useful analytics and insights. It has the potential to seriously reduce harm from food allergies. MD Barry Leaper spoke to Tech Nation.

How does it feel to be a Rising Stars regional winner?

We’re delighted to be one of the Scottish regional winners. As a company we’ve made really strong progress this year despite the tough environment and this is great news to finish the year.

What is it like being a tech company based in Scotland?

The ecosystem in Scotland has played a big part in our progress. We’ve benefited significantly from support from Scottish Enterprise and a number of other organisations including the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Opportunity North East and the University of Aberdeen.

PlayerData

Edinburgh-based PlayerData is transforming the way athletes train, giving everyone from amateurs to professionals access to the latest in wearable technology and performance data. Covering amateur to semi-professional levels across both football and rugby, PlayerData has over 350 members in its revolutionary community. CEO Roy Hotrabhvanon spoke to Tech Nation.

How does it feel to be a Rising Stars regional winner?

We’re very proud here at PlayerData to be named a regional winner for Scotland. With goals to expand across the UK and beyond, it’s great to be recognised as one of Tech Nation’s Rising Stars.

What is it like being a tech company based in Scotland?

Scottish Enterprise has been with us from the start, offering support in the form of advice, grants and cheerleading. We’re very lucky being in Scotland for this, for the entrepreneurial backdrop and for the support of our local customers who have helped test and implement our service. Their patience and feedback have meant we can go further in our technology, implementing new features and trying different things that will ultimately enhance sport everywhere.

Trickle

Edinburgh-based HRtech company Trickle is on a mission to reinvent employee engagement and wellbeing, to build better workplaces and achieve better business performance. Businesses are only as good as their people, and Trickle says that work should be a place where people are listened to, valued, supported and have a strong sense of belonging. Trickle brings these attributes to the core of everyday operations, with a goal to help businesses thrive and become more resilient by creating a people-first culture. Founder and CEO Paul Reid spoke to Tech Nation.

How does it feel to be a Rising Stars regional winner?

We are absolutely delighted to have been chosen as a Rising Stars Scotland Regional Winner. This is a great testament not only to the impact that Trickle is making as a growth company in the tech for good space, but it’s also a great reflection of our team’s dedication and passion to bring positive and impactful change to the best asset an organisation can have – its people.

What is it like being a tech company based in Scotland?

Scotland has a vibrant, thriving, innovative and rapidly expanding tech scene that has so far produced two global tech unicorns. Being headquartered in Scotland has benefited us immensely as we’ve had access to a great talent pool of people with outstanding digital skills, a bustling network of creative tech entrepreneurs and angel investors.

There’s a great buzz across the Scottish startup scene, and one example of the significance placed on supporting and nurturing tech founders in Scotland is the Scottish Government’s multi-award winning innovation programme, CivTech, which we’ve been selected to participate in twice. Following on from this, we’ve successfully secured contracts with major public sector organisations, including the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland.

Scotland