5
 min read
Genna Masterton
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James Trotman
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James Trotman
March 11, 2024
March 11, 2024

The Power of Partnerships

"10 months that changed my life" - Genna Masterton, Founder at Gifted Kind

Pre-pandemic, Genna Masterton found herself in largely rural Ayrshire struggling to keep up with demand for her services in helping young people and institutions understand and create  learning environments focused on happiness and mental wellbeing.

With a background in primary teaching, coaching and mindfulness, Genna ventured into entrepreneurship by designing a ‘Creating Mindful Children’ program and could never have imagined one day becoming a Software as a Service (SaaS) co-founder! Often considered a risky career choice, reserved for our more outgoing transatlantic cousins in Silicon Valley, entrepreneurialism, alongside social purpose, are now at the heart of Genna’s mindset and early-stage tech business!

After initiating collaborations with six local authorities in Scotland to introduce fresh educational resources targeting mindset, happiness, and wellbeing for young individuals, and their grown-ups, Genna found herself increasingly inundated with requests and prospects. Determined to access and improve the lives of as many young people as possible, Genna remembers sitting down with Business Gateway to get mentorship on how to increase her outreach and delivery capabilities. Within these meetings Genna remembers discussing the feeling of being overwhelmed by the volume of requests for service and the size and variance of the consumer needs.

“It was because of my mentor, Jim Jardine at Business Gateway, that I began to understand that I have proven a market need and rather than shy away from the opportunity to deliver at scale, I have the basis of a business model and plan from which to build from.”

With the world adopting and embracing alternative educational delivery when facing the Covid-19 pandemic, school children across Scotland and the UK began accessing resources more digitally and Genna began to consider adoption.

Recognised in Ayrshire as a high growth potential business, and after being a Scottish Social Enterprise Edge round 20 finalist, Genna was awarded 3 months of free coworking space at the Halo Enterprise and Innovation centre where she drew inspiration from founder Dr Marie Macklin, Jonathan Ericci at Barclays Eagle Labs and Scottish Enterprise Investment Readiness advisor, Gary Torbett. Being co-located with tech startups and inspiring entrepreneurs, it was at this point that Genna discovered Techscaler.

“I learned about "non-technical founders" and realised that starting a tech company could be possible! Utilising technology and digital delivery could advance my social purpose, extending my outreach to support families worldwide on their path to happiness, all from my base in Scotland! I saw the First Steps Programme and signed up immediately. It was through this programme that I learned that there were established models or playbooks based on the problem solving opportunities I had uncovered. Everything began to align and within my cohort I was surrounded by enthusiastic and inspiring people with incredible ideas which spurred me on to continue.”

With the door to tech innovation now firmly open, Genna began exploring the Scottish tech ecosystem for more support to help grow and scale her business. With the breadth of collaborative partnerships within the community, she used connections and signposting to access valuable mentoring with Eimear Keenan and The Royal Company of Merchants and began an ongoing relationship with Strathclyde Inspire.

After completing Techscaler First Steps and joining Strathclyde Inspire Genna describes her shift in mindset.

“I felt like I was part of a community and a place where I belong. I was surrounded by inspiring, similarly minded people who have ambition to gain investment, trade internationally and innovate. I have no doubt I  have formed life long friendships with people who will continue to guide, influence and educate me on a daily basis. I was recognised in November at an Inspire 100 pitching event for the meaningful impact I will go on to make in society thanks to Sir Tom Hunter sitting in the front row and The Hunter Foundation kindly topping up the prize pot. I am part of something special and the community is actively willing me on to make a difference and have a voice.”

In September last year Genna partnered with a technical co-founder based in London. While developing their "Minimum Viable Product," and a new early years focused brand, Genna received ongoing Techscaler monthly mentorship from exited-founder, Julie Grieve, whilst expanding her technical skills via an education programme with The Data Lab. Genna delved deeper into the Tech Network and Investment Community, actively participating in various AccelerateHer and Investing Women Angel events. These gatherings provided a supportive environment, enabling her to expand her network of inspiring entrepreneurs.

“How the likes of Techscaler, AccelerateHER and Strathclyde Inspire partner, collaborate and co host encourages me to open more doors and feel completely comfortable utilising events, education and mentoring from a number of sources. I need to do what is right for me and my business and knowing the ecosystem works collaboratively rather than competitively makes it easy to navigate and get the most out of my time and network. Looking back, I can’t believe the journey I have been on for the past 10 months and the growth I’ve seen in myself and my business. I’m on the right path now. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Genna will be one of 16 female founders pitching at the AccelerateHER showcase at the V&A museum in Dundee on Thursday 14th March, sponsored by the Scottish National Investment Bank, British Business Bank and Scottish Government. 

Appendix List of Ecosystem Partners that have helped Genna’s startup journey:

1- Business Gateway - mentoring and business support

2- Scottish Edge - funding competition 

3- Halo Enterprise and Innovation centre - coworking space and network

4- Barclays Eagle Labs - coworking space and business support

5- Scottish Enterprise - investment support

6- Techscaler - education and community

7- The Royal Company of Merchants, Edinburgh - mentoring

8- Strathclyde Inspire - mentoring, education and community

9- The Data Lab - technical education 

9- AccelerateHer - community and events

10- Investing women angels - community, events and investment support

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