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The Guardian: Reality check

The Guardian: Reality check

Barry Johnston, 26, set up his own company Scotrenewables – which is involved in wind turbines and marine renewable energy – after leaving Heriot-Watt University with a BEng and PhD

Interview by Eileen Sheridan

Saturday July 3, 2004

“I wanted to stand out from the crowd and make a difference. I wanted the freedom to shape my own future and, above all, to see renewable energy successful.

“I knew it would be very high risk, particularly in this industry which requires large capital investment up front.

“Scotrenewables gained credibility and reputation from winning several awards for work in renewable energy, including a Royal Society of Edinburgh Fellowship and the Shell LiveWIRE UK award for sustainable development.

“This helped open the door to various sources of start-up finding. Friends and family also helped – although hard work, long hours and determination is really the only way when you start from nothing.

“The early challenge was finding money to keep the business alive. We also had some public relations challenges with a couple of our wind turbine developments which has given me something of a thick skin.

“Getting the right staff in a small team is also very difficult, particularly given the company’s location. I discussed problems with other entrepreneurs and I gained a lot of advice from Richard Yemm who established the pioneering company Ocean Power Delivery.

“It’s important to seek out people who have gone through similar experiences to you.

“Employing people can be stressful. Never expect anyone to do anything you wouldn’t do. It’s important to demonstrate this continuously. As a result, I expect everyone around me to have the same drive and commitment as myself.

“Starting as an unknown company and slowly developing credibility is a huge buzz. The feeling of pioneering is also good. Seeing something grow from my ideas gives a good sense of achievement.”

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