James Guthrie: Being Out of the EU Has Made the Possibility of Relocating the Business or Opening a Branch There, Quite Difficult

James Guthrie of ZeroInfoSec.

Where in Scotland are you located?


Tell us about yourself?

I’m 37, been married for 10 years, and have 4 beautiful children. I grew up in a council estate in Glasgow and failed all of my Highers. After working for 6 or 7 years I went to the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) to study a Bachelor’s in Engineering.

I managed to talk my way into the course during the Clearing process. I struggled to get going in the new atmosphere but eventually found my feet and graduated with a 2:1.

I then went to the University of Strathclyde to do a PhD although that project fell apart after a few years when my Supervisor left the university. I’ve had a love for technology since I was very young and I got my first PC when I was 11.

I actually started to learn a little bit about programming before that, when my sister showed me the family’s old Sinclair ZX Spectrum and a stack of magazines with programs printed in BASIC on the pages.

I figured out how to take apart and fix everything in our house, including the PC; and I learned how to write some very simple programs on my own. During my time at UWS I started a small company offering to develop mobile apps for customers and had some success doing that.

While working on one particular project with a big hairy Scottish-American guy called Chris, some cyber security concerns came up and I thought “ohhh that’s interesting!” So these days I now sell cyber security services, which just happens to be what I feel I’m really good at.

What lessons has being an entrepreneur taught you?

Never be afraid of trying something new, even if you might fail. In fact, it’s awesome if you fail because you’ve got a whole bunch of lessons to learn. Then the next time you try something new, you know where you can go wrong and you’ll hopefully avoid that.

If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Be more patient! Building a business takes time and I’m still learning how to do things, how to have better conversations, and how to improve everything.

A lot of entrepreneurs find it difficult to balance their work and personal lives. How have you found that?

When you’re young, say in your 20’s, it’s easier to do stuff during the day like take care of your family or have a social life, and then work on your passion late into the night.

I’m 37 now and I find that if I try to do that too often, I get burnout very quickly. So my advice is to prioritise SLEEP! You’ll find time for everything else during the day.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

We love the internet and we believe in a safe, secure internet, free for everyone.

What do you think is your magic sauce? What sets you apart from the competitors?

I’d say probably our directness and honesty. We don’t dance around awkward conversations, and we don’t try to cover up when something has gone wrong.

How have you found sales so far? Do you have any lessons you could pass on to other founders in the same market as you just starting out?

As much as I try to get noticed on social media, I feel like it doesn’t get very far.

If you don’t have the resources or the free time to post 5-7 pieces of content on all platforms every day then social media marketing isn’t going to work for your revenue stream.

Networking has actually been my biggest driver of business. So get to know people in the industry, not just in cyber but in IT as a whole.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far in your business, and how did you overcome it?

Getting it off the ground is the biggest challenge. Having it sustain you and your family first, is the big challenge.

Once it starts growing then you can look at bringing more people into the company, getting better at marketing, and offering more services.

What do you consider are the main strengths of operating your business in Scotland?

In Scotland we have decent Internet bandwidth, my business operates on gigabit fibre.

Other benefits could also include being able to travel to London, Paris, Munich, and Brussels within about an hour, while having a lower cost of living than actually being in or around those cities.

What if any are weaknesses of operating your business within Scotland?

I work with Belgian companies mainly so being out of the EU has made the possibility of relocating the business or opening a branch there, quite difficult.

I also find the cost of renting a physical office, or a decent sized home, to be very expensive here.

What influence does being part of the UK have on your business?

We have some UK Government cyber and IT bodies which are quite prominent though I don’t always with their general advice!

What do you want to accomplish in the next 5 years with your business?


How has Brexit impacted your business (if at all)?

See previous answer.

And finally, if people want to get involved and learn more about your business, how should they do that?

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