This event will run from 9.30-11.30am at Hello Digital, An Lochran, HIE.
Three entrepreneurs from the Highlands and Islands region who have attended the Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP) at MIT in Boston discuss what they learned from the course, how they applied the learning in their business and the impact upon their growth. The speakers are Seonaidh MacDonald, formerly CEO of mLED Ltd, Henry Blake, owner of WoodblocX Ltd and Gary I Campbell, formerly CEO of Environmental Hygiene Products Ltd. Seonaidh, Henry and Gary led very different businesses when they took part on MIT EDP but their stories share some common themes – a relentless focus on the customer, understanding your market and competitors and making hard decisions when required. Their achievements didn’t just happen, they followed a structured process in pursuit of their business goals and they will share their stories at the workshop.
Seonaidh MacDonald, formerly CEO of mLED Ltd, and a participant on MIT EDP in January 2016. Despite all their efforts, the company was still pre-revenue by 2013 with no customer contracts so Seonaidh joined mLED Ltd as a professional CEO and shareholder in 2013. Following a full business review, Seonaidh pivoted the business to focus upon displays used in Augmented and Virtual Reality products. This led to new contracts in North America within two months and a customer base which included Microsoft, Google and Facebook. Seonaidh led a commercial re-focus of mLED Ltd and led funding rounds totalling £2.5 million which allowed the company to develop and commercialise the technology. In late 2016, Seonaidh led mLED Ltd to a hugely successful exit to a major US player, achieving exceptionally favourable terms for the shareholders. Seonaidh, who originally hales from the Western Isles, will share his thoughts on the benefits of participating on EDP and the mLED journey, including his top tips to overcome challenges and achieve your business goals.
Henry Blake, owner of WoodblocX Ltd, also participated on MIT EDP in 2016. WoodblocX is a unique garden landscaping product. The patented system enables anyone to create garden structures easily and effectively. Henry’s ambition was to grow WoodblocX and increase export sales and this drove his decision to apply for a place. After attending EDP, Henry forged a partnership with Professor Catherine Tucker, the renowned guru for the psychology of pricing and pricing issues at MIT. Catherine brought in some postgraduate students at MIT to work with Henry and supervised their work. The collaboration has resulted in a new pricing architecture for WoodblocX which has increased profitability significantly and this is now used as a case study for MBA students at MIT. Henry will share his experiences of participating on EDP and subsequently collaborating with MIT and the impact upon business growth.
Gary I Campbell, who is now Key Account Director at the University of the Highlands and Islands participated on MIT EDP in 2007. At this time Gary was the CEO of Environmental Hygiene Products Ltd, an NHS approved supplier of waste bin and management systems which was based in Tain, Ross-shire. The company had been running at a loss when a Management Buy-Out (MBO) took place in 2002 – Gary, a Chartered Accountant raised the money to purchase the business for the management team. Continuing in an advisory capacity until 2006, when he was appointed as a Director and CEO, he worked with the majority shareholder to turn the business around, reposition it within the market place and groom it for sale. The business grew five-fold in the ten years from 2002 until 2011 when it was sold in a trade sale allowing the majority shareholder to retire. Gary will explain the relevance of MIT EDP to a Highland business and also share the story of a collaborative venture born out of EDP that developed another completely separate angel backed business which was also sold five years later for twenty times the investment amount raised.