Seonaidh MacDonald talks negotiations at Startup Grind

by Marlene Lowe,
Partner Relationship Manager

November 22, 2017

On October 26th at the Scott-Moncrieff offices in Edinburgh, we had the privilege of attending a fireside chat at Startup Grind Scotland with former CEO of mLed Ltd, Seonaidh MacDonald.

Speaker Bio

Seonaidh MacDonald was the CEO of mLED Ltd until late 2016. mLed is a world leader in micro-displays for Augmented & Virtual Reality products. In 2016 he led mLED to a hugely successful trade sale to a U.S household name, delivering a double digit exit multiple. Vice Chairman of The Lennox Partnership (a Social Enterprise organisation), former Chairman of Hebridean Power Ltd and Deputy Managing Director and Business Services Director on the Board of Babcock Marine Clyde Ltd, Seonaidh’s story was not only entraining but highly inspirational. You can read more about him here.

The fireside chat

Seonaidh held the rapt attention of October’s Startup Grind attendees even before the fireside chat started. An exuberant and enthusiastic speaker, time was quickly forgotten when he was telling us about his experiences with IBM and how those experiences shaped his future.

He brought with him advice on how to negotiate, the importance of realising what needs to happen to reach your goals, and making those decisions – no matter how difficult they may be. He emphasised the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people that are heading in the same direction as you.

Seonaidh had wise words about how having a corporate background can help startups and entrepreneurs succeed with their businesses. Stating that a corporate background gives you an all-round vision of what governance tools and levers you need to run your business. It makes you aware of what toolkits are available to you.

“Corporate gives you a rigor, a robustness, a chain of command, a real solid structure to the way you should be running your business.”

What advice would you give budding entrepreneurs?

Hold your nerve

Never give away your IP ownership. Never give away your exclusivity. Never give away your payment terms. Hold your nerve, know your worth and know what you are willing to do to get there.

Trust your instincts

You have to trust yourself. At the end of the day, you need to look back on your decisions and be able to say that you made the best decision you could have. You do not want to look back and regret not making a decision, or following someone else’s decision. But you cannot afford to not listen to the people you trust.

You need to look for advice from others but the buck stops with you. You have the final decision. If an idea comes to you and stops you in your tracks – you need to investigate it. It could be an opportunity that you don’t want to pass you by.

“You decide what advice to listen to.”

Never call the number first

When negotiating never be the first person to mention numbers. You want them to call the number first and you’d be surprised at the number that comes back at you. Most of the time you’ll find they value you higher than you value yourself.

He ended with the words “The first number is never the last number.”

About Startup Grind

Startup Grind is powered by Google for Entrepreneurs and is a global startup community designed to educate, inspire, and connect entrepreneurs. With monthly events all over the world, it aims to feature fireside chats with successful local founders, innovators, educators and investors. They share personal stories and lessons learned on the road to building great companies. Their values of; making friends, not contacts; giving, not taking; and helping others before helping yourself, speak to us as an organisation. We are pleased to be part of the Startup Grind community.

Next event

The next event in Edinburgh is being held on the 23rd of November and will be held at CodeBase. The fireside chat will be with Investment Executive, Value Creator and Board Adviser Paul Forrest. Get your ticket and find out more about Paul here.