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Ian Skene: Thinking about starting a business? It’s about time

Ian Skene, founder of Recycl8.

You’ve had your bright idea, you know it’s a gamechanger and you’re just waiting for the right time to launch your business.

But when is the right time? More than 40% of aspiring entrepreneurs don’t think they will ever set up their own company (SME Loans, 2019).

“Procrastination is opportunity’s assassin”,  said Victor Kiam, American entrepreneur extraordinaire.

While that’s undoubtedly true, I would also argue it’s never too late to flex your entrepreneurial muscles.

I still feel as driven and enthusiastic now as I did at the start of my career.”

According to Start-ups UK, most UK entrepreneurs don’t start up until their 40s.

I’m sure a lot of people questioned why I started Recycl8 during a global pandemic, following a successful career in waste management.

The simple answer is that I still feel as driven and enthusiastic now as I did at the start of my career.

Believe in yourself and take the chance

As the founder of a local waste-to-energy facility, I realised there was a problem with excess incinerator bottom ash (IBA).

I believed there must be a better use for the IBA, as opposed to sending it to landfill.

An intense period of research and development led me to discover we could create a product which takes IBA from waste-to-energy operators and transforms it into a low carbon additive for concrete manufacture.

These are not just buzzwords to us – we’re the real deal.”

It’s a win-win situation – not only have we found an important use for material that would otherwise be destined for landfill, supporting the circular economy, but we’re also aiding concrete manufacturers to reduce their carbon footprint and achieve their net-zero targets.

These are not just buzzwords to us – we’re the real deal.

I guess that would be my first piece of advice for any of you contemplating taking the plunge with your own business – believe in what you are doing and pursue it wholeheartedly, regardless of what stage you’re at in life.

Make a statement, grab your potential customers’ attention and get them thinking.

It’s important to deliver a strong, simple project with a clear and concise message. Just because you’re an expert in the field doesn’t mean your audience is.

Net-zero goals

At Recycl8 our message is simple – we want to shape the future of sustainable building by creating a product and a company which are committed to the circular economy and net-zero goals.

I would recommend three important factors you need behind you to make a company successful – strength of character, the right team and funding.

The first of these embraces resilience and ambition. Be bold enough to get your company and your message out there, and possess the will and determination to carry on even when you encounter setbacks.

The Recycl8 team, l-r Ian Skene, Raymond Cowan and Yvonne Walker.

I met my fantastic team of Yvonne Walker and Raymond Cowan on Elevator’s Grey Matters programme.

Yvonne is our business operations manager and brings a wealth of experience. She is
passionate about generating long-term sustainable solutions which contribute to the circular economy.

Finance director Raymond has previously been part of several dynamic small and medium-sized enterprises, with a particular focus on organisations developing new products and technologies.

Pooled experience

Together we pooled our respective experience, knowledge and expertise to form Recycl8.

There is an assumption that funding is a huge stumbling-block – around 40% of young entrepreneurs see lack of access to funding as a major barrier to growth (Institute of Directors, 2016).

I would argue the support – financial and guidance – is out there.

Although we are still in the early stage of our development, we are progressing quickly.

Faith shown by external organisations ‘priceless’

We applied for funding and received a grant from Innovate UK which expedited our testing process.

Elevator UK helped us to identify the all-important ecosystem that is crucial for any business’ success – experts in finance, accounting, equity and law.

We’re also indebted to Scottish Enterprise – not only have they supported us on a practical level, but they have also believed in our vision for Recycl8 from the get-go.

That kind of faith in what we’re trying to achieve is priceless.


But we didn’t stop there – we also secured investment from energy industry figures Mike Wilson, founder of Ecosse Subsea Systems, and Doug Duguid, the founder of EnerMech.

Their financial input and invaluable business acumen strengthened our team and helped us accelerate the development of our product even further.

We are united in our common goal to bring our game-changing technology to the global

We’re working hard today on a sustainable solution for the construction and waste management industries that will help to preserve all our tomorrows.

Which brings us back to where we started – talking about time.

So if you’re armed with your product and your message, and fortified by belief and commitment, seize the day. Because if not now, when?

Ian Skene is the founder and managing director of Oldmeldrum firm Recycl8.