Local life with …
Leah Hutcheon, Appointedd A frustration at not being able to book appointments online eventually led Leah Hutcheon to power bookings for Fortune 500 companies. Conference Call catches up on the Edinburgh entrepreneur’s career to date

Tell us about yourself, Leah

I moved up to Edinburgh from Blackpool in 2001 to study for a degree in drama – very different to what I’m now doing! Before I started Appointedd I edited a homes and interiors publication. Back then I felt a continuous frustration at never getting around to booking hair appointments, and so I decided to start my own business to mitigate that frustration.

So what is the business?

Appointedd is an online booking solution for businesses that take bookings via their websites and social media pages. From research we found that arranging appointments via email or telephone can take up to 15 minutes. Our software cuts that down to about 40 seconds. A whole host of different businesses use the software, from car valets and freelance photographers right up to Fortune 500 companies.

Why did you choose to stay in Edinburgh?

I felt very at home here and still do. Practicalities and sentiment aside though, if I’d looked elsewhere for great cities to set up my business, Edinburgh would still have been right up there on the list. There’s such a vibrant tech scene here that means the team can freely collaborate with others in the industry. We actually share an office with Mallzee and there’s a great camaraderie between us. Plus, we’ve got support from Scottish Enterprise and investment from the Scottish Investment Bank. You won’t find a support network like this elsewhere in the UK.

What’s been your career high point?

Being in a position to close deals with some of the best companies in the world. We’re powering bookings for Fortune 500 companies and household names. You really have to pinch yourself the moment you’re closing deals like that.

On a personal level, what is it that you love about the city?

It’s such a beautiful place. Our office is situated just off the Grassmarket, so we have views out over the city, the Pentland Hills on one side, and the castle on the other. Everywhere I look I’m surrounded by it! The quality of life here is also something so unique. If we lived in London we probably wouldn’t be able to walk to work each day like we do.

How does Edinburgh do in terms of nurturing entrepreneurial talent?

We’re so lucky to have some great support organisations here, like Power of Youth and Young Enterprise Scotland. They’re fantastic resources for giving young people the opportunities to start businesses. Some members of the team at Appointedd started on internship schemes and have ended up in management roles here. It’s important for us as a business to keep nurturing talent like that.

“We’re trying to change the working experience for women and that’s something I feel very passionate about”

What are your hopes for Edinburgh and its tech scene?

Technology is at the heart of business these days and Edinburgh is home to some incredible companies that will grow and grow as time goes on. There’ll be more unicorns created here – I’m absolutely sure of that. Scottish start-ups are especially good at finding innovative ways to help businesses streamline processes. I’d love to see more Scottish businesses actively relying on the Scottish start-ups – it’s the perfect case of cross-fertilisation.

You’re an Ambassador for Women’s Enterprise Scotland. What does this involve, and why did you decide to get involved?

It’s an incredible organisation, set up specifically to support women to start business that can revolutionise the economy as a whole. They offer fantastic schemes for mentoring and networking, and lobby for equal pay and shared parental leave. We’re trying to change the working experience for women and that’s something I feel very passionate about.

What keeps you busy out of the office?

I’ve just become a mum so my life has changed massively in the past few months! I’m actually experiencing a completely different side to the city now. There’s a whole new world of child-related activities and things to do that I’m just discovering and I’m meeting some fantastic people along the way.

Leah’s favourite spots in the city

  • Restaurant

    Bijou, on Leith Links. The food is amazing and it’s run by a lovely team – most certainly a hidden gem.

  • Bar

    The Devil’s Advocate. It’s got a delightful atmosphere.

  • View

    The view from the office! It’s perfect if you’re trying to work something out or solve a problem.

  • Green Space

    It’s clichéd, but it’s got to be The Meadows. It’s close to the office so it’s a great place for a beer after work on a sunny day.

  • Walk

    Since having my daughter we’ve become members of the Zoo, and I’m just loving walking around there, seeing the pandas and the monkeys. It’s my new favourite place in Edinburgh.