Dr Colin Story is the co-founder and CEO of OxSonics, an Oxford University spin-out company developing a new generation of ultrasound devices for both drug delivery and surgical applications. Colin has over 18 years industry experience since completing a PhD in Molecular Biology. He has worked at GE Healthcare, Isis Innovation (the University of Oxford’s technology transfer arm), and was Operations Director of OrganOx (another Oxford spin-out he helped create).
What is your background? Why are you doing this?
I’m a Molecular Biologist by training but have spent 18 years in industry of which the last 11 years have been in commercial roles. In collaboration with the other co-founders of OxSonics I created the business case, raised capital and grew the company from the ground up during the past 2-3 years. OxSonics achieved a higher valuation than any other spin-out in the history of Oxford based on first round valuation, something we’re proud of achieving.
Identifying an opportunity that has commercial potential and then making it happen – usually by raising capital, building teams and generally working hard!
There was never any conscious decision to become one, but I can honestly say that I know I’m doing the job that I was born to do – in that respect I’m very fortunate. Each and every day I work towards making the company a success both in terms of delivering benefits to patients and to our shareholders. At OrganOx we developed a product that is truly life-saving – there is no better feeling than being a part of making something like that happen.
So what would you say are the top 3 skills that needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Why?
1. You need to be a clear thinker and clear communicator – to be able to rationalise complex issues and ensure all the relevant stakeholders are on board with you; 2. You need to be able to sell – to sell the opportunity to investors, to sell the company to prospective employees, and of course, to sell products to customers; and 3. You need to work hard – companies don’t build themselves!
Seeing the company grow (we’re 8 employees now with dedicated offices and labs), seeing the product development programme advance and of course be working towards delivering highly innovative therapies to patients.
Building the case for investment, building a syndicate and closing a 20-party transaction that created a company valued at £7.7 million on day one.
One of the key lessons learnt over the years that I would pass on to others is to always consider not only your position but also those of others in negotiating deals and doing business generally.
What is good about being an entrepreneur in Oxfordshire? Bad?
There are some great networks in and around Oxford such as OBN and initiatives run at the Oxford Science Park for example. Because there are many other Oxford-based early stage companies there are plenty of people to network with and provide help when needed. However, Oxford can be hard to recruit in (despite the wealth of talent) due to high cost of living, and limited supply of suitable office/lab space.
I’ve met with and helped many entrepreneurs – it really depends on what they need help with but I can usually point them in the right direction.
No matter how tough things get, stay positive and work hard. Usually you’ll work through the issues. Make sure you surround yourself with talented, positive and hardworking people, as that will be key to success.