Scottish fintech joins prestigious tech nation Upscale 4.0 programme to help fast-growing startups



Stuart Lunn

Edinburgh’s LendingCrowd has been named as the only Scottish company to join the prestigious Upscale programme, now in its fourth year.

LendingCrowd, the fintech lending platform, is one of 30 fast-growing startups selected for the Tech Nation programme from over 100 applications. The LendingCrowd executive team will be coached over the next six months by some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs and company founders.

LendingCrowd is a fintech lender offering small business loans and investment opportunities via an online platform. Since launching in 2014 the startup, which employs 25 people, has completed more than 570 loans and its total lending has exceeded £50m.

The six-month Upscale programme got underway last night by bringing all the companies together at the Farncombe Estate in the Cotswolds. It is designed to help fast-growth tech companies to successfully navigate the challenges of growing to the next stage.

The challenges that most concern these growing companies include hiring and retaining talent, maintaining culture while scaling and expanding into new markets.

During the launch, companies heard from Aneesh Varma, founder & CEO of Aire, Angie Ma, co-founder & COO of ASI Data Science and Cherry Freeman, founder of LoveCrafts, on the challenges of scaling and leadership.

The 30 companies that have been selected represent some of the finest early stage talent from across the UK and it is expected that many will successfully grow into the next generation of digital household names. Companies joining the programme have on average 40 employees and revenues of more than £1.5m a year. Most of the companies on Upscale 4.0 have already raised a Series A round and the cohort has collectively raised £188m.

The Upscale companies are drawn from all sectors, with a fifth of companies in the fintech sector and another fifth that are e-commerce and marketplace. Half of the companies are business to business startups, while a fifth are business to consumer companies and 30% a hybrid of business to business and business to consumer.

Margot James, Minister for Creative and Digital industries, said: “The UK is Europe’s undisputed tech hub and much of our success is down to the ambition of fast-growth companies like these. I congratulate all the companies joining Upscale today and the significant potential and innovation they have shown. We are determined to make the UK the best place to start and grow a business, and through our Digital and Industrial Strategies we want to see the power of technology change people’s lives for the better.”

Sinead Daly, mid-stage programme lead at Tech Nation, added: “I’m delighted to welcome this year’s companies onto the Upscale programme. As we enter our fourth year, Upscale has built an incredible network of over 100 alumni, who have a wealth of experience to share with the cohort. Our off-site launch event will bring our founders together for the first time and enable us to embed those tight-knit connections upfront, think about what scaling really means and explore how leaders can thrive while managing such rapid growth.”

Stuart Lunn, founder and CEO at LendingCrowd, said: “Being selected as the only Scottish company to join the latest Upscale programme is further validation of our work in building a sustainable business capable of being scaled in a high-growth sector. We founded LendingCrowd to help bridge the funding gap facing so many small businesses, and the experience gained through Upscale and working with Tech Nation will be invaluable as we take the platform to the next level.”