Scotland must lose its 'business park' mentality

ANDREW Lloyd has a message to the geeks of Scotland. Like a technocratic Moses, he wants to lead them out of the business parks and "innovation centres" where they conduct subsistence-level business with each other, slaves to over-indebtedness and "business park mentality".

Properly growing companies, he says, should be forced, like slobbish 20-somethings, to make their way in the real world. "Just surviving is for losers," he says.

To bring about this shift, he says, ambitious IT businesses should put less emphasis on inventions themselves, and more on finding innovative ways of marketing them worldwide.

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There is another big Andrew Lloyd theme: get some serious investment behind you, even if it means handing over large chunks of equity. Better to have 70 per cent of a high-growth business than 100 per cent of one that is going nowhere.

Lloyd's status as a serious player - and the source of his authority to lay down the law on such subjects as the over-indebted nature of many of Scotland's IT companies - derives from the breadth of his international experience, notably with Oracle in the US, and, most lucratively, as a vice-president of the American software company Netegrity, which was sold in 2004 for $450 million.

This record, which saw him invited by Jack McConnell to become a key player in the Globalscot network, has also given him the financial comfort that has allowed him to return to Scotland, despite an 80 per cent salary cut.

He works in close harness with Scottish Enterprise's High Growth Start-up Unit, whose director, Andy MacNab, acts as a kind of dating service between Lloyd and young IT businesses identified of being capable of exceeding 5m turnover in their first three years.

"There are plenty of people with IT expertise in Scotland," says McNab. "What is more rare is people with commercial nous, who have served at chief executive level or who have an international marketing background."

"I spend a lot of time trying to identify such people, but even then there is no guarantee of usefulness to young companies. It's not rocket science. If the personal chemistry is not there then it's not going to work. With Andrew, that chemistry is always easier to achieve."

Investors back jockeys, not horses, and Lloyd's involvement with a young Scottish company can swing potential investors in their favour.

Tangible evidence of Lloyd's value can be found in Scottish businesses that he started out consulting for and ended up heading. Chief among these is Pivotal Integration, the Hillington-based company that Lloyd joined in April last year.

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The firm, which specialises in, "enterprise-class internet applications" and which has doubled its revenue and tripled its profit since Lloyd came on board, is currently installing a new software platform for the 14m-turnover Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

The new system, or "integration and aggregation platform" in geek-speak, is intended to bring commercial order to the world's largest arts festival's technically anarchic ticketing and booking systems.

As the first of its kind in the world, it is ripe with export potential as Europe has around 900 other multi-venue festivals that would benefit from the real-time rigour, flexibility and quantification advantages it offers. Lloyd's business style is to develop products with market leaders (the Fringe is the biggest arts festival in the world) and then sell the story of that success to similar organisations.

Dave Ball, IT manager of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, says: "Most IT projects that go wrong do so because the finished product didn't meet the business need. Getting that initial analysis phase accurate and thorough, and Andrew Lloyd and Pivotal have a very analytical style.

"There is nothing like it in the world that can integrate multiple different systems in a way that can be extended to take on other ticketing providers who want to make their software compatible. Its very exciting and it's going to make a big difference to our capacity to grow"

Another liked-it-so-much-I-joined-the-company story is NetIDme, based in East Kilbride, which has developed software that allows web users to ascertain the identity and age of people they meet online. Although conceived as a tool to prevent net "grooming" of minors, Lloyd has encouraged the company to develop more conventional, and potentially massive, business-applications,

Clarity of vision and passion for developing Scotland's potential are widely recognised aspects of Lloyd's extraordinary personality. When he talks about the need to "give something back" by donating his time to nurturing callow Scottish startups, you sense not the usual business-conference piety but a compelling need to do the right thing for the Scottish economy.

In person, Lloyd is simultaneously evangelically intense and jocularly laid back. He is known to Globalscot staff for his willingness to take on what other highfliers would consider irksome tasks

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Two big events have dominated his life. The first was his father, a machine tool fitter in the merchant navy, suddenly dying of a brain haemorrhage when Andrew was six.

The second was when he himself came eerily close to dying on board Flight 93 on 11 September, 2001 (see panel above).

Lloyd's stellar career and sense of purpose owe a lot to being told he was the "man of the family" when he was seven. Around the age of nine he remembers feeling the responsibility of earning a living, deciding that he wanted to be an engineer.

He was school captain of Inverness High School, and took a first class degree in electrical and electronic engineering at Heriot Watt, where he met his wife Joanne (now a French teacher).

In his early career, he designed digital maps for Ferranti and was project director at Aberdeen-based Valstar Systems, before joining Oracle in 1994, moving to Texas and rising to e-business program director with Oracle's North American sales division.

Like a lot of internationally successful Scots, Lloyd has a heightened sense of his roots, and has much to say about making more of the intellectual and moral values for which Scotland's brand is associated.

In his own case it was this sense of the importance of Scottish values that saw him exchange high rise Houston for the rural calm of Callander.

Meanwhile, those responsible for ensuring that IT thrives in Scotland are making sure that his tough-love, get-commercial prescriptions are widely heard.


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ANDREW Lloyd's decision to give up a handsomely remunerated life in the fast lane of the US IT industry and to relocate to the Trossachs was influenced by the experience of having a ticket for United 93, the Newark-San Francisco flight that crash landed into a field in Pennsylvania on the morning of 11 September, 2001.

Having missed an evening connection from Newark due to a delayed flight from Glasgow, he was automatically transferred to the early morning flight (UA93), but changed to a flight via Houston, to take advantage of his air miles.

This near-death experience "affected my life choices very deeply" he said, "not only making me realise what was valuable in life, principally my family, but also because I felt 9-11 brought out a darker side of America; my kids started to get asked why they didn't salute the stars and stripes."