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 23 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?
Having completed a PhD in Molecular Biology I moved into industry in 1997 and since then have predominantly held commercial roles. OxSonics technology has tremendous potential to deliver life changing therapies to a broad range of cancer patient groups. Seeing technology deliver patient benefit is what drives me and the whole team at OxSonics.
What is your definition of entrepreneurship?
Identifying an opportunity that has commercial potential and then making it happen – usually by raising capital, building teams and generally working hard!
What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?
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.
So what would you say are the top 3 skills that needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Why?
- 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;
- 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
- You need to work hard – companies don’t build themselves!
What is your favourite part of being an entrepreneur?
Seeing the company grow, seeing the product development programme advance and of course working towards delivering highly innovative therapies to patients.
What has been your most satisfying or successful moment in business?
Raising £24m of investment.
What would you say have been some of your mistakes, failures or lessons learned as an entrepreneur?
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.
If a new entrepreneur or startup came to you looking for entrepreneurship information or resources in Oxfordshire, where would you send them?
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.
Any last words of advice?
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.
EnSpire Oxford is a University of Oxford initiative to help connect people to the entrepreneurship resources they need, and to promote entrepreneurship across Oxfordshire.
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