The CEO's blog
Tue 19th April 2016
The extraordinary thing about experience is that it cannot be erased. Good or bad, our previous experiences shape our future. If our minds are open, these lessons become opportunities. Some years ago, whilst working for QinetiQ, I had the opportunity to spin-out some leading-edge technology I had been working on. Having had an interest in entrepreneurship for some time, I grasped the opportunity to create a new business designing and manufacturing helicopter training simulators, blending my scientific background with commercial experience. This stage in my career had a great influence on the way I do things today. As with any start-up, there were highs and lows but the experience was exceptionally valuable and I know that it has helped shape my vision for the development of Southampton Science Park.
I took several lessons from my start-up journey; I believe that they are applicable to all start-ups and are as valuable today as they were then.
Some of my key leaning points were to:
Focus: don’t be distracted by seemingly good opportunities that take you away from your core and stated strategy or you will lose valuable time and money.
Engage customers from the outset: don’t wait until you have perfected your product or vital opportunities for in-development market research will be lost and you could find yourself back at the drawing board.
Understand competition: every business has competition but it’s how you fine tune your offering in relation to this that matters – a strong value proposition is vital.
Recruit wisely: getting the right team around you builds foundations for success and growth so recruit hastily at your peril!
One of our key focus areas at the Park is nurturing and supporting innovative start-up companies, and my experiences of running a start-up gave me a passion to help others take the leap. These experiences gave me, not just an understanding, but a true insight into what fledgling businesses need, fuelling the creation of our successful Catalyst Programme and shaping the community spirit and business support that today’s Science Park is known for. Now I never cease to be excited by the diverse science and technology businesses whose journeys are contributing to today’s Science Park story. On a daily basis it’s a privilege to work alongside such talented scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs.