Meet the people who make it happen
- What do you do outside of the Somerset Catalyst programme, and what does it involve?
I spent 12 and a half years as a Chief Executive of the Southampton Science Park, I retired last year and now I enjoy working part time as independent consultant, providing support to early stage businesses.
- What do you love most about what you do?
I love witnessing the energy and passion amongst start-up and early stage businesses, it is infectious! I also love working with people and seeing them make a real difference to the world.
- If you could share just one piece of advice to people who have started their own business/are looking to start up a business, what would it be?
To focus on customers and securing sales.
- Do you have any advice for businesses who are adapting during the pandemic?
One piece of advice I would offer to businesses is to focus on your value proposition. What value does your company bring to customers and what is that worth to them?
- How do you think the current pandemic will change the face of business?
Any type of disruption to society provides both threats and opportunities. The ‘new normal’ will embrace some of the changes we have experienced including how we will work with others, how the workplace and technology will change, how your business will adapt its overall approaches, and even how you take advantage of business prospects. Many businesses responding will recognise opportunities and find new ways of doing things, whether that means a digital transformation and growing your online presence or selling new products and services in response to the changing landscape.
- What do you think makes up the qualities of a good businessperson/entrepreneur?
An eye for a business opportunity, where you can make money, and resilience, so you can bounce back and have the capacity to adapt in the face of challenging circumstances.
- What are your thoughts on the potential of Somerset and its existing and potential business community?
We have enormous potential here in Somerset. It’s a vibrant and interesting county with a mixture of businesses, from those in the Hinkley Point supply chain to the technology sectors including aerospace, not to mention the service providers and artisan, food, drink and craft businesses. I have noticed there are a large number of people who have a passion for business and it’s important that when tech is part of that they don’t become overcome by the excitement of the tech itself, but rather focus what the tech can do to solve customers’ problems.
- What are your hopes for the Somerset Catalyst programme?
That it will create a community of like-minded people who are passionate and focused on building and growing exciting businesses. And by doing this that we will attract more people into the community and create a growing group of peers who are supporting one another and engaging in business growth across the region.
- Can you share more about your experience with programmes like this? What struck you most about working with these businesses and individuals?
Having started a business myself, I understand a lot of the challenges people face first-hand. When I moved to Southampton Science Park in 2007, I started a programme which was designed to help and support growing businesses. I discovered people often didn’t focus so much on the business opportunity, as they did the product or technology. I spent a lot of time helping these businesses and individuals realise what value they could bring to a market and how to enter to enter that market and disrupt it.
- What is your message to the people who are thinking about applying for the Somerset Catalyst programme?
They may be daunted by the programme, but the key is to have a good business idea, an idea where there is a real customer and prospect of sales. Be prepared to work hard, but expect to see results. Don’t think your business is too early to be considered. What’s important is the nature of the business idea and the person behind it.
- Tell us something most people don’t know about you?
I am chairman of the Farnborough Symphony Orchestra and play the violin.
- Three words best used to describe you?
Strategic, focused, and results-oriented.
- What are the most important career (or personal!) lessons you’ve learned over the years?
People respect integrity. People like doing business with people they can trust so be open and honest in all your transactions.
- What is your biggest achievement to date?
Transforming Southampton Science Park from an ordinary business park to a vibrant entrepreneurial community populated by growing businesses.
Our team of experts are on hand to work with you on developing your value proposition. If you are ready to take the next step and see your business grow, find out how to apply to the Somerset Catalyst programme.