If you live in a flat or housing development, do you know who your property manager is? Do you have one? AboveBoard are looking to create a platform where this service is community driven, improving costs, transparency and communication between resident and factor. Sarah Morrison is one half of the partnership behind AboveBoard, a husband and wife team based in Edinburgh developing their business idea through the Geovation Scotland Accelerator Programme.
"You can look at changing your phone bill and your utilities but it’s much harder to change your factor. A lot of people don’t know where to start."
Sarah believes that to get the ball rolling, people first need to be educated about their options. In addition, she says, there are a lot of people in Scotland living alone, working long hours or maybe not going out socially.
So, the idea is also to try and get people speaking to each other and doing things together within their developments to combat that isolation and foster a greater sense of community.
Discussing the topic with Sarah also brings up a very interesting difference between how factoring is carried out in Scotland’s two main cities of Edinburgh & Glasgow. 70% of Glasgow residents live in a flat (apartment) and a lot of these will be in tenement buildings – traditional Scottish structures. The factoring market is bigger in Glasgow, as tenements in Edinburgh were built as single houses rather than flats.it wasn’t until later that Edinburgh owners split these buildings into separate living spaces, so the title deeds are different. However, it’s clear that Sarah knows her stuff when it comes to the property sector.
Sarah thinks that Scotland is the perfect place for her and her partner to start their business. More than that though, Sarah sees their location in Edinburgh as an obvious choice:
For start-ups there seems to be more going on in Scotland, a lot more support available than there used to be. It used to be very London centric, but I do get the sense that a lot of the companies supporting start-ups and accelerator programmes such as Geovation are now looking to move up here which is fantastic. Really great.
The Geovation Scotland Accelerator Programme is a great example of Scotland’s support of start-ups and new innovative businesses. However, it’s not just Scotland’s business environment that makes Edinburgh a great place for Sarah and Jamie to set up AboveBoard. As well as having great support for businesses, Scotland also has a lot to offer in terms of an excellent work/life balance.
The cities are bustling, vibrant and a great place for start-ups, but a stone’s throw away you have beaches, rolling countryside and hills to climb. They cherish the ability to be able to jump in the car and be in the borders one day and then on the west coast, up in the mountains, or on the beach the next. When you just need to escape, Scotland is the ideal location. In fact, Sarah credits the varying Scottish environment as one of the great things about setting up their business here.
We’ve done a couple of years in London as well so, we were able to go out and see what London has to offer but certainly now, having a kid I much prefer to be here.
As someone who likes hill walking, water sports and cycling, Scotland is the perfect playground for Sarah. When talking about her homeland Sarah can’t help but sing its praises:
It’s a friendly, clean, beautiful country which has way more to offer than most people realise. I mean, get up north and over to the west coast and check out the beaches on a beautiful day, you could take a photograph and you’d think it was the Caribbean. Okay, we don’t get great weather, but you can’t have everything.
It’s true, it’s rare to have everything you want and it’s definitely true that Scotland’s weather sometimes leaves a lot to be desired. However, AboveBoard have received great support to develop their innovative business, and the great work life balance afforded within Scotland’s landscape is second to none. Think you can’t have everything? Looking at Sarah’s life in Scotland, it seems like maybe you can.