Scottish Space Entrepreneur wins Edge Funding

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Rating: 7.7/10 (3 votes cast)

With both of her parents serving in the British Navy base at Rosyth Scotland, Victoria Arnold was raised with the military attitude of ‘no-nonsense’. Being the eldest of three children this helped when her father was away for six-months at a time on submarine patrol. Perhaps this also contributed to her becoming impatient for things to happen…

Change came soon enough with her parents divorcing whilst Victoria pursued a marketing degree at Stirling University. After graduating in 2006 her desire to see some more of the world led to an internship in Chicago. On her return to Scotland, she quickly completed a Masters in Fashion Marketing at Glasgow Caledonia, worked for a number of SME’s and then as a Marketing Officer for the University of Strathclyde.

Space Entrepreneur

Space Entrepreneur

It was when Victoria was working full time in 2011 that she started her first part-time business – Homestayfriend, which offers short-term accommodation for international students throughout the UK. Still impatient to make things happen, in May 2012 she started her second business – Desk Union which connects micro-businesses with companies that have extra space to share. Running two worthwhile part-time businesses whilst working full-time was of course a real challenge and something had to give.

It was one of those critical moments in life when circumstances align and things are never the same again. Victoria was already feeling overwhelmed with the breakup of a long term relationship and having to give up the care of her dog because of time constraints, when her two uncles came up to Edinburgh from Devon for a Madonna concert. Having this safe place enabled her to open up to what was going on and she had an emotional breakdown.

Victoria says that instead of being hospitalised, she was ‘Uncle-ised’ and they took her back to Devon with them for a week to get away from things and to recover.  It was during this time that she realised that she had to take a risk with her career or watch her life waste away. She knew she had to just… do it.

The following day after returning to work, she handed in her notice. Amazingly, the very next day after that, she won the Association of Scottish Businesswomen’s award for the Best Young Business. She took this as a sign that she had made the right decision to commit full-time to being an entrepreneur.  Since then Victoria’s businesses have enjoyed significant success:

Homestayfriend has received a commendation from the TSB Young Enterprise Award, now has two full-time employees and is serving 18 language schools over 18 campuses.

Desk union hired its first full-time member of staff and out of 217 applicants recently won £48,775 from the Scottish Edge fund. It has gained a business angel investor, been shortlisted for the Association of Scottish Businesswomen’s Most Innovative Business award.

Victoria has been listed as an Entrepreneur to watch, has spoken in New York about shared work-space in the UK and has created her own collaborative work-space with the other Scottish Edge fund winners – “You have to surround yourself with the right people.” she says.

Victoria would like to advise anyone thinking about setting up their own business that “You have to take action. No one is going to do it for you. The only person that can stop you is yourself.”

Future actions for Desk Union include rolling out software so that companies can upload information themselves about the office accommodation they want to share. Her next target for Desk Union is Manchester because it has a vibrant entrepreneurial community and she is also organising a UK tour for a US co-working expert in November. To top all of this, she is flying to Atlanta to attend a global work space conference in the next few months.

Sometimes making a commitment to starting up in business is hard but then I’m reminded of an old British Navy recruiting slogan – ‘The Team Works’. When we have the right people around us, we can find the confidence and courage to take action and make things happen.

Ultimately though.

We either steer our own ship or get carried along by the currents of life.

To follow Victoria on her journey, see:

Scottish Space Entrepreneur wins Edge Funding, 7.7 out of 10 based on 3 ratings Perseverance, Connections, Hope, Hard Work, CouragehelloArraytags

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