Dean Mann and Don Stewart from Blakeseye gained a place on the first Pathfinder Accelerator programme. Here Dean reflects on his experience.

Our business development approach has been revolutionised by the thinking on this programme.

How did you get involved?

We’d been developing our product for three years when the Pathfinder opportunity came up. I had spent the previous eight years deep in pharmaceutical industry data; we were thinking people working in the right area, and we were happy to help HIE develop their pilot.

Pathfinder caught our attention because it’s a different kind of support programme. It’s not a one day course or a workshop on how to sell – it moves ahead of what else is on offer and delivers real benefit for businesses.

What is your business idea?

We’re developing software that allows people at the top of organisations to use data to help make complex decisions. Essentially, we’re bridging the gulf between the people that want to drive change and the data specialists. The idea was born out of working in the healthcare sector and realising the tools that we needed didn’t exist.

We focused on the application of our product in the healthcare industry during the Pathfinder programme, but it can be used in any sector where complex decisions have to be made – anything from energy and finance, through to insurance and risk management.

What were the best bits about Pathfinder?

The programme facilitators are excellent; they continuously ask searching questions, which can sometimes seem quite brutal but the process forces you to justify your business proposition.

It’s great for building understanding of your own business and sharpening up on the delivery. The programme is based around the idea that you get out there and speak to loads of people before you’ve spent any money, which is great for young companies.

Were there tangible results from taking part?

We devised a minimum viable product that we didn’t realise we had. Going through the programme made us look at a lot of things: the market match, the channels, the revenue model. The refinement of an interim product probably wouldn’t have happened without Pathfinder. It brought focus to our marketing requirements, and brought up a lot of the challenges.

Tips for future participants?

I would recommend Pathfinder to people with good ideas – even if they’re quite raw – in an established market area. Pathfinder is really intense and takes up a heck of a lot of time. You can’t get away from it and you should be prepared for that. For us, it looked like something that would sharpen up our product thinking and our marketing thinking and it certainly did that.

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