University of Edinburgh – Successful Alumni who Founded Startups

If there is someone you would like to add to the list, please email us directly. Please see our shortlist below!




Ross O’Hanlon & Rowan Armstrong – BioLiberty


Ross O'Hanlon BiolibertyRowan Armstrong Bioliberty


Founded by Ross O’Hanlon and Rowan Armstrong, the two University of Edinburgh alumni launched their startup the same year as graduating from MEng in Electronics and Electrical Engineering with Management. Their passion and focus was to enable people to live their lives independently. BioLiberty’s aim is to empower every human to live a longer, independent life by providing assistive robotics and rehabilitative technologies. Witnessing the struggles of living with reduced mobility inspired their ideas.

BioLiberty’s solution is aimed at sufferers of hand weakness and is made up of two elements: a soft robotic glove and a digital therapy platform. In the UK, more than 2.5 million people are currently living with hand weakness. The soft robotic glove is the result of several breakthrough technology advancements in recent years: machine learning, robotics and biomedical processing.

A grip assist glove is a new novel product which combines breakthrough advances in robotics and digital signal processing. The glove improves grip wrist and foreman and actuating flexible actuators to assist in moving the hand into specific positions. The glove is accompanied by a digital platform that includes exercises to help maintain and improve hand strength, which is integrated into a mobile phone application.

The young startup has experienced lots of success so far. In 2020 they won the Young Award from Scottish EDGE, a competition aimed at identifying and supporting Scotland’s up and coming, innovative and high-growth entrepreneurial talent. In 2021, they won the Wildcard Award for Scottish EDGE, the Young Entrepreneurs Challenge winners 2021 and won a place on the Unlocking Ambition programme 2021.


Elena Höge – Yaldi Games


Elena Höge


Yaldi Games is a game developer with the mission to create meaningful entertainment. University of Edinburgh alumnae Elena Höge founded Yaldi Games in 2020. Elena has known since school that she wanted to launch a games studio which is why she undertook a BSc in Business Computing and an MSc in Design & Digital Media at the University of Edinburgh.

Choosing the word ‘yaldi’ which is Scottish slang for excitement or joy, Elena has always been a lover of video games herself but it’s the combination of learning and entertainment that really inspired her to create her own.

Yaldi Games are building fully immersive experiences that will combine adventure and education with sustainability. Their focus is to offer a 360-degree approach that encourages players to use what they learn within the game, in real life.

Since their launch, Yaldi Games have been working on their first title: Wholesome. Within it, players are invited to explore picturesque outdoor scenes and learn more about nature. Elena explains: “Wholesome is a relaxing and peaceful game where players can explore beautiful environments, find and identify wild food, cook dishes, craft decorations and cultivate their own garden.”

Elena has seen great success in the first two years of her startup. In September 2020 Elena won the top prize for the Creative Challenge in the Converge Awards, Scotland’s leading entrepreneur development programme. In January 2021 Elena was a winner of the Young Innovators Award by Innovate UK and the Prince’s Trust. In October 2021 Elena won the Global Innovation Award by Social Shifters.

And Elena and Yaldi Games featured recently in a Careers Hive to inspire more pupils into STEM. This week-long free event was organised by Edinburgh Science Learning, the education arm of Edinburgh Science Foundation and one the UK’s leaders in science education. Delivered digitally to approximately 3,000 pupils live with recorded sessions provided to all schools in Scotland.


Karis Gill & Aayush Goyal – Social Stories Club


social stories club


University of Edinburgh graduates and founders of Social Stories Club, Karis Gill and Aayush Goyal started their social enterprise after discovering a shared passion for social impact, gifting and storytelling. This sustainable gifting company is on a mission to introduce you to the amazing world of social enterprises by sharing their stories.

This unique gifting experience offers customers luxury, high-quality products, but at the same time creates an enormous social impact and has an interesting story to tell. Each of the products inside the sustainable gift boxes and hampers has been made by a social venture from delicious chocolate that supports global reforestation projects to Earl Grey Tea helping to educate girls in India. So not only are you sending a thoughtful and memorable gift, but you are also contributing to wonderful causes too.

Social Stories Club have seen great success since their launch. Their gift boxes have featured in Glamour and Stylist. They have also been selected to feature in the new eBay for Change Programme and recognised by STV for championing diversity and awarded £25,000 of airtime.

They have been in the semi-finals of the Santander Entrepreneurship Awards, the finals of the Entrepreneurial Spirit Award by the Great British & Northern Irish Entrepreneur Award and a finalist in the Rising Star of the Year with Business Women Scotland. More recently they have received a place in Power Up a programme by the Big Issue invest.


If there is someone you would like to add to the list, please email us directly.




Mhairi Cochrane – Floco


Mhairi Cochrane


After graduating in 2020, Mhairi began to work full time for Floco, an organisation she founded while studying at the University of Edinburgh. Mhairi, aged 23, co-founded Floco when studying in 2018. Floco (pronounced flow-co) are a community of people who flow. Floco was founded by 2 young women; Mhairi Cochrane and Alison Wood in 2018. Mhairi and Alison are passionate about equality, education and innovation with compassion to give everyone the best life the can.

Floco is on a mission to ensure everyone can have the best period they can. They aim to do this in 3 ways.

1. Innovation; they have designed high quality, discreet and comfy reusable period pads. Floco’s pads are an absolute game-changer, using ultra absorbent technical materials to keep users feeling dry and secure.

2. Education to Empower: Floco has created an education programme focusing on periods, puberty and gender stereotypes that is inclusive and engaging and aims to encourage young people to pick apart stereotypes and nurtures a culture of understanding and compassion.

3. Fighting period poverty; Floco are dedicated to helping people who flow live the best life they can. So when customers buy from Floco they are able to support women around the world. Their initiatives increase access to period products and education.

Mhairi never imagined herself to be a co-founder. Running a business so soon after graduating has been challenging for her, and imposter syndrome can sometimes feel overwhelming. She feels so lucky to be able to work on something she am so passionate about and hopes that more people who might not imagine themselves as founders make the leap as it can be so rewarding.


James Watt – Brewdog




BrewDog was founded by James Watt and Martin Dickie in 2007. James attended the University of Edinburgh and Martin attended Heriott Watt before they created the company together after graduating.

In 2009 BrewDog purchased its first bar in Aberdeen, and had progressed to own 78 bars worldwide by 2018. They were also described as “one of the prime movers” to change the law in 2011, allowing new restrictions surrounding beer in Great Britain. The company were offered £2 million in crowdfunding shares in 2011, equating to 8% of the company. Sold at £23.75, benefits of the shares included discounts in the bars and online purchase of beer alongside the chance to attend shareholders meetings which occurred annually.

2011 also saw the company offered crowdfunding shares totalling £2 million, the equivalent of 8% of the capital of the company. The shares were sold at £23.75 and accompanied several benefits such as discounts in its bars and online purchase of its beers, and the opportunity to attend its annual shareholders’ meeting.

In December 2019 BrewDog opened its first bar in Ireland which was located at the Capital Dock development in the upmarket Grand Canal Dock area of Dublin, and in January 2020, BrewDog opened its first alcohol-free bar in London. In addition to this, during the COVID-19 pandemic, BrewDog was able to shift its distillery production towards making free hand sanitiser due to increased demand, which was provided to local charities and hospitals.


Iria Katritsi – Nature Above


Iria Katritsi - Nature Above


Nature Above is a business founded by University of Edinburgh graduate Iria Katrisi. Iria founded her own business aiming to offer ready-made solutions for rooftops. The products offered by Nature Above range in price and aesthetics and can be catered to suit the needs of any planted roof.

Nature Above designs and constructs the planted roof, taking control of the project from start to finish. The company also only uses materials which are completely certified and deemed to be of a high enough quality.

The company’s main goal is for their clients to bring nature into their own home and transform their lives permanently. Nature Above believes that their work brings both financial and technical benefits. The company also offers products which promote ideas surrounding sustainability and health and wellness, whilst simultaneously providing green spaces in typically urban environments.


Kavi Thakrar – Dishoom


Kavi Thakrar - Dishoom


Kavi Thakrar obtained a degree from the University of Edinburgh before he co-founded one of the most popular Indian restaurant chains in the United Kingdom alongside his brother, Shamil. The restaurant is called Dishoom and the first restaurant was set up in London, but has now travelled to other major UK cities.

The first cafe opened in Covent Garden in 2010. Since then, Kavi and his co-founder have established an additional seven restaurants, located across London, Edinburgh, Manchester and Birmingham. The restaurants have won a variety of awards, including Restaurateur of the Year (Group) – The Catey’s, 2018, Diversity in Business – Edinburgh Business Award, 2018 and Best Breakfast Destination – The Scottish Food Awards, 2017.

Kavi Thakrar has also been listed as one of the Alumni 100 from the University of Edinburgh, which has been created to inspire the University’s current students alongside demonstrating what can be achieved after they do graduate. The list is also in place to illustrate the calibre and reach of Edinburgh’s alumni network, which operates on a global scale.


If there is someone you would like to add to the list, please email us directly.