Tech prize

Six tips for start-ups from last year’s ESTnetNG tech prize winner

David Barton, managing director of medical supplies firm Kaydiar, scooped the ESTnetNG technology prize in 2018. Since then, the fledgling outfit, which he co-founded with business partner Heather Smart, has picked up investment from a major global PLC to grow its operations further.

We spoke to David, who spun Kaydiar out of a university dissertation, for some tips for start-up companies looking to follow in its footsteps…

Learn how to ask for money

“Definitely have a solid business plan and framework in place – it might be the boring part, but investors need to see it. You’ve got to be very enthusiastic and prepared for some difficult questions. For instance, we got asked questions about data, and about recyclable plastic: with medicine, it doesn’t matter what things are made of as it’s all incinerated as it’s a biomedical hazard and can’t be recycled. Making sure your plan is sustainable is important too – if there’s no prospect of repeat sales it can scare investors off.”

Get your Intellectual Property sorted

“This is essential!”

Get a mentor

“I learned a lot about negotiation from my business mentor. I was put on an Accelerated Growth Program, which paid for a mentor for me. If you can get a mentor or any guidance, it can really help.”

Learn project and time management skills

“We’ve had to do a learn a lot about project management – we’ve had to put a six-month plan for our investors together to tell them how the money is spent. There’s lots of organising, overseeing and getting academics to write up data – then we have to ask for more money! Investors need to know where it’s being spent.

We got given a time management plan by the Prince’s Trust, but life takes over and you have to go whenever there are opportunities. You’ve got to allow for some free time but if something comes along, you must go for it.

Enter awards

“Winning the ESTnetNG technology prize last year was one of the biggest things to happen for us  - I used the money we won to buy a 3D printer but the publicity opportunities wining the award gave us probably had the biggest effect. A magazine covered us, and we happened to be on the same spread as our eventual investor. It’s priceless. To stand yourself the best chance of being nominated, answer each question as best as you can – then get it peer reviewed, then peer reviewed again.”

Stay positive

“When you start a new business, you need to know there are going to be hard times ahead, and things don’t always go your own way. Never give up, stay positive and be relentless. Otherwise, your idea will die with you. Only you can drive it forward and make it a success – it’s not easy!”