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The Entrepreneurial Exchange

Biographies

Graeme Cox 

Graeme founded his IT Security company, dns ltd in 1999, developing the Edinburgh-based business over the following decade to be the UK leader in IT Security Outsourcing and Consultancy. Building on long-term relationships with large Private and Public Sector clients across the UK and Northern Europe provided a platform for continued profitable, organic growth, delivering a business that in 2009 was still growing recurring services revenue by 50% p.a., with over 70% of revenue from clients outside Scotland and a turnover approaching 8 figures.   The success of dns was recognised through many awards along the way including repeat wins of the Edinburgh Business Excellence awards for both start-up of the year (2001) and SME (2005), winner of the Deloitte Fast 50 Scotland and the award to Graeme of the Glenfiddich Spirit of Scotland award in 2005 for the business category.

Graeme has always maintained that one of the most enjoyable aspects of owning a small, growing business is the constant variety and challenge that the environment demands. Whilst the Managing Director job title didn’t change from start to finish, along the way Graeme had to learn everything about operating and growing a services business from scratch, including fee-earning consultant, project manager, salesman, finance manager, technical support, operations manager, HR, legal counsel and social convener; in other words a normal journey for a boot-strap business owner! However, not content with the myriad hats of business and fatherhood, Graeme concurrently set about tackling competitive triathlon, culminating in him representing
Great Britain in the World Triathlon Age Group Championships in Australia in 2009.

In December 2009 Graeme sold the 80-person business to SecureWorks, a world-class privately held US IT Security Services organisation for an undisclosed cash sum. Having provided leadership to the integration and direction of the European business exited the business six months later.

Graeme graduated from
Edinburgh University with a degree in Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science. Prior to founding dns he worked in IT across the UK and Northern Europe, latterly in consulting and managerial posts, before returning to Edinburgh in 1997 to start a family. He is 43 years old, married and has two children. People keep telling him that post-exit he will now get bored very quickly. He replies that they have no imagination.

John Quinn

John is a Central Scotland Businessman and Entrepreneur who spent the large majority of his career establishing and growing Fasco Engineers Supply into one of the country’s largest independent merchants from its Stirling roots in 1986.  2007 notably saw the disposal of Fasco from John in a multi-million pound deal, adding Fasco’s diverse product range to the Scott Group’s portfolio of products and services.  As part of the same acquisition, Fasco’s parent company and John’s property development business ROK Holdings was also disposed of.

Prior to the acquisition, John had begun to source products from Asia. This facilitated many new customers, mostly in the dairy and retail / supermarket sectors.  Although no longer holding a position of management at Fasco, John continues to successfully coordinate these imports. 

Since the acquisition of Fasco, John devotes much time to developing his two new property development ventures: Bluewater Scotland Plc with his family and MuddyFields Plc. These companies specialise in the development of Industrial and Commercial premises, along with the construction and sale of Care Homes. 

Local radio had been one of John’s long-running interests. His involvement in Central FM, a Falkirk-based local station, has spanned over 15 years where he has enjoyed time as a Shareholder, a Board Member and the Chairman.  However, 2008 saw John become the majority Shareholder and Owner of the station in a deal reached with The Local Radio Company, Central FM’s former owners.  Before his appointment to Chairman some years ago, the Station was losing over £80,000 per annum, but has since become both a popular local media and a very profitable small business.  In addition, since John’s tenure as Owner commenced, listening and revenue figures have shown dramatic increase as the Station work toward John’s vision of a ‘local media playing a crucial role at the heart of the community.’  This recipe for success has been further consolidated by Central FM’s nomination at the National 2009 Sony Radio Academy Awards in the Station of the Year category. In 2009 John along with a partner acquired Original fm in Aberdeen. 

John is a board member of Stirling Enterprise Park (STEP), based in Stirling.He joined the board, having previously occupied the park as a tenant, upon the recognition of STEP’s invaluable contribution to the growth of small business.  Realising its importance, John felt drawn to involvement in such a worthwhile project. In the past John has been involved as an advisor and Board Member of Young Enterprise, while presently he occupies his remaining time as a Board Member of Stirling Business Centres Ltd coupled with other private investment standings; most notably, the exciting and innovative Emblation plc based in Alloa. 

Married to Anne, John has 3 adult sons and lives in Bridge of Allan.

Kai McCabe 

At the end of 2007 Kai sold her share in Search Consultancy back to the business and left the recruitment industry to pursue other business interests.  Kai then launched wish4a – an online lifestyle site and, through her consultancy advises a number of businesses in both the Private and Public Sectors.  

As Managing Director of Search Scotland, Kai became part of the management buy-in/buy-out team in February 2000, Kai played the key role in developing Search’s successful business model within the Scottish market.  Whilst firmly establishing Search as the leading independent player in Scotland, the successful foot print was rolled out south of the border opening locations in Manchester, Crawley, Leicester, Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham and London, and increasing staff numbers from 170 to over 600.  As a result, Search is now recognised as one of the UK’s 100 fastest growing private companies in a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers’ ‘Profit Track 100’. 

The company turnover on exit (2007) was over £120M and NFI had grown at 20% year on year for the previous 5 years. 

Kai joined Search in 1995 as Director of their Edinburgh operation and within 3 years was appointed Managing Director for the overall business. 

Kai, who has an MBA from Edinburgh University Management School, joined the recruitment industry in 1987 and rose to Sales Director of a market leading pharmaceutical consultancy before joining Search. 

In 2004 Kai won the Business Insiders Elite Readers Award. Kai currently sits on the Campaign Board for the Princess Royal Trust for Carers.

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Venue information

21212 3 Royal Terrace
Edinburgh
EH7 5AB

0845 2221212

Chairman

Ms Kai McCabe, Wish4a.com, www.wish4a.com

Speakers

  • Graeme Cox, Attercop, www.attercop.com
  • John Quinn, Central fm, www.centralfm.co.uk

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Registered in Scotland. Company registration number SC160976.
Registered office: Barncluith Business Centre, Townhead Street, Hamilton, ML3 7DP. Developed by Mercurytide