The Fife Business Journal asks Duffy questions about Entrepreneurial Spark. On why he started the program.
I realised that the support services available to start-ups in Scotland weren’t very joined up and that other countries which were fostering start-up businesses for the first 12 to 18 months helped them achieve traction more quickly. If you look at the likes of the ecosystems in Boston and New York, for example, they have great entrepreneurial hubs in which businesses really look after each other. I saw that similarities could be applied over here in Scotland but you can’t just take a US model and plonk it in this country and expect it to work. I had to look at the business psyche in Scotland and assess the mindsets and perceptions of its entrepreneurs. It seemed to take a lot more over here to make people ‘oven ready’. I had initially planned to launch E-Spark as a private, limited company but I did nine months of research beforehand and went out to Babson College in Boston. When I told them I’d raised a quarter-of-a-million to help fund it, they said ‘don’t do it; go home and start it as a social enterprise instead’. Everything seemed to pick up right away and, before long, Sir Tom Hunter became involved.