Meet our fourth tenant, xim!

We’re delighted to announce that the next start-up business joining the Catalyst Centre will be xim, founded by Laurence Pearce. We tracked him down, keen to find out more about his business and what he hopes to get out of his Catalyst Centre experience.

What is the idea behind your business and what will it offer?

The essence of our product, ximvision, is to provide early warnings of critical health events, such as a heart attack or stroke, through the use of a camera with computer vision technology. Used in an older person’s home, it is a low cost and discreet way of monitoring someone’s wellbeing while giving relatives peace of mind as early warning indications are provided to a GP or out-of-hours health service. The aim is to recognise warning signs before they turn into critical health events. The technology will help people to remain at home, out of residential care homes and hospitals, thereby reducing the high costs and social impact that this can cause.

How does it compare to other products? 

Existing products on the market can warn if someone has a problem; for example, an individual can press a panic alarm or, if they have stopped moving around the house, a product can recognise this. However, at this point it can be too late to get help. That’s why our product provides a preventative warning so that intervention can happen before a major problem occurs.

What stage is your business at currently?

We are currently developing a ‘proof of concept’ for the product; an early prototype has been established and we have been able to use this to demonstrate the technology to different stakeholders. We are working on strengthening the prototype to make it more robust so that it can work correctly within the home environment. Further testing in a hospital environment needs to be done too, to calibrate the technology and ensure that the early warning signals are working correctly through clinical validation.

Why did you decide to apply for the Catalyst Centre?

Earlier this year we were selected to do a mini SETsquared introductory business plan strengthening course. As a result, we learnt about the Catalyst Centre and what it offers. We have been fostering good relationships with the Academic Health Science Network including the University of Southampton Hospital, Solent NHS Trust and a number of other neighbouring health organisations and we therefore know that the South is the best place to be strategically located. I feel that the location, along with the mentoring and peer support that the Catalyst Centre provides, offers an excellent opportunity for the business.

How did the pitch go?

At the time of pitching we were having setbacks with our value proposition. The judging panel on the day were divided in their opinions on our business model and we were challenged throughout. This was useful to us because it allowed us to see our challenges from an outside prospective, alongside questions on our viability and competitors.

Where do you see the business in five years’ time?

Ideally in five years’ time, we hope to have partnered xim with a larger company as a strategic investor as we need to create  economies of scale to fulfil our ultimate goals. xim has the potential to scale globally through applications in hospitals, nursing homes and the military but we feel this can only be achieved through a strategic collaboration.

What were you doing before starting this business?

Academically, I hold a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Hertfordshire and an MBA from Warwick Business School. I have a  background in NHS and healthcare IT and I also have 15 years’ experience in writing, managing and participating in R&D projects. After completing my BSc I was hired by a mid-size software company which suited my style of working. After undertaking my MBA I worked at Ford in European business planning but life in the big corporate world did not agree with me. Post-Ford, I worked for the NHS before working for a management consultancy company. Even though I worked my way up to Director I still felt that owning my own business was the right way to move forward so this was when I established xim as a consultancy. Now, 15 years on, XIM has reformed into a product-based business and we are keen to fulfil our global potential with the product.

Have you always wanted to have your own business?

Yes, I grew up in an entrepreneurial family where both my parents owned a business, so this always seemed the most natural route for me.

What advice would you give to a budding entrepreneur?

An entrepreneur must be critical of their ideas and their plans to put these into practical business models. A dose of realism is vital and you must be willing to have your ideas challenged and allow yourself to be flexible whilst being stubborn with what you want to achieve. Above all, listening to others is essential; however you must also learn from what you hear. Listening to potential customers and investors is fundamental in developing the product. Finally, keep your spark!

Which entrepreneur do you admire the most?

I think highly of entrepreneurs that I have known on a personal level. I studied with Vin Murria who is now the CEO of Advanced Computer Software plc.  Her career has included a combination of venture capital, private equity and CEO/operational experience. She also undertakes a huge amount of charitable work in the PS Foundation which supports education for underprivileged children in remote areas of India. Even at University she was always driven and strived for perfection in her work; it has been great to see her grow and accomplish her goals.