Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Growing (up) the business

This is a huge week for CamStent, the UK business that I founded with classmates back in 2006.We got our legs under us with our first funding in 2009, bringing Clare on as CFO and putting the whole thing on a firm forward track.  In 2010 we proved our basic market concept; in 2011 our basic technology concept and reconstituted the Board.  In 2012 we’ve closed our second round of funding (raising almost 1m gbp total) and are on the road to commercialization in 2013.


Throughout it all, the constants have been Clare and I running a largely virtual company, supported by centers in Sheffield, Bristol, Brighton, and London.  As the work progresses, we’ve decided to hire some help, employees and, finally, an office.

Employees and An Office.  That is a huge step forward.  It changes how we operate the business, where we operate it from, how we delegate and organize the work.  We have brought in Raman already, a business development expert, and are in the process of interviewing a Head, Microbiology and Head, Chemistry.  With the addition of an administrative assistant, we will shortly be six people.


Recruitment has gone very well: we had outstanding applicants from our operating network, and three top candidates have been invited to face-to-face conversations.  The key attributes we’re looking for are 1)  Is this someone you can share a table and run a business with every day,  2)  Do they have the knowledge and experience to do the job, 3)  Can they work independently and aggressively as a project manager, planning work, gathering resources, and driving completion, and 4) Can they communicate and discuss ideas and results comfortably with a wide variety of colleagues and audiences.  Two of the three interviewee’s were outstanding on all four.

We looked at office space at several local incubators before deciding on St. John's Innovation Centre.  We plan to operate with flex time: there will be core hours when all or some off the group will need to be on-hand, but we’ll flexibly expect 32 hours work each week from each person (40++ for me).  That means an office space with four desks, a work table, and a small conversation / kitchen area.  Room 27, 420 sq-ft, fits the bill; we signed the rental for occupancy next week.


We made a furniture inventory and headed to Silverman’s to see what second- and first-hand furniture might be available.  It’s a bit like visiting the island of lost toys:  all manner of furniture left behind as companies outgrew them or failed.  We tried to envision a crescent desk or a rectangle, a round table or an oval one for meetings, chairs, facing the window or side-on to it. 



We passed, regretfully, on the lip-sofa.

I want an open, inclusive arrangement with a welcoming ambience, avoiding folks back-to-back or back-to-windows.  In the end, I think Larry helped us to sort through the options and get consistent pieces and colors: it delivers on Monday.

Employees and An Office.  It’s an echo of when the kids first arrived: I suddenly feel much more responsible for creating an environment and for supporting others, with commitments to workplace, well-being, and salary.

It’s growing up.

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