News and Views from Scotland

Scots Company Continues to Fly High

Skyscanner Logo

Edinburgh-based travel website Skyscanner is one of Scotland's 'unicorns' - tech start-ups valued at more than $1 billion - and the company has grown exponentially since it was set up in 2003.

Having experienced seven consecutive years of double digit growth and this year welcomed 128m investment, the global travel search website is now firmly placed to accelerate its global growth even further.

"Last year's revenue was £120m and we saw a 48% increase in year-on-year unique monthly visitors, as well as a 60% increase in mobile visitors." explains chief executive, Gareth Williams.

"We've seen 48% growth in the Asia-Pacific region, 67% growth in China and 55% growth in the Americas."

The idea came when Mr Williams, a software engineer, started the travel search engine as a DIY tool to find flights to visit his brother who was working as a ski instructor in the French Alps.

"At that time the budget airlines were becoming established but there was no single place I could go to figure out the best flight from any one of five London airports to any one of about five airports around the ski resorts in the Alps," Williams says.

He identified a clear consumer need for something that made the process a whole lot easier. "All the flight options for your journey, in one place, easily filtered for time, price and much more. So I decided to build a tool for myself. That tool worked, so I showed it to my two friends and said: 'How about we create a business around this?'"

"Much of our young talent locally comes from Scotland's universities, which provide a fantastic recruitment ground for us," Williams says. "We offer interesting, challenging work in a fast-paced business where employees have a sense of ownership and flexibility - and as a former coder myself, I know the biggest appeal is the excitement of an interesting technical challenge."

Originally from Norwich, Williams moved to Edinburgh 14 years ago and says the city is now very much his home. "It's a compact city that has so much to offer, from plentiful green space to thriving businesses and a never-ending roster of world-renowned festivals and events. And lots of fellow software engineers."

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October 2016

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