Time to say farewell, as another group of our fledglings leave the nest – Part 1

The early life of a startup business is likely to be a bit of an adventure: challenging, frustrating, tiring, exhilarating and rewarding – just ask our Catalyst Centre tenants who graduated this week. We are very proud of what this year’s cohort have achieved. We’ve loved every minute working with them and want to say a huge thank you to all four companies for their hard work. It will be very sad to see them go but, before they do, we went to find out what has changed for them during their time here as they gave their final presentations before stepping aside for another group of aspiring businesses to move in.

For the first time since pitching for their places in the Catalyst Centre, the tenants presented their businesses to the Catalyst Judges who gave them their winning spots six months ago. Keen readers of this blog will be aware that our four fledgling startups have all had success, but it was fascinating to hear first-hand how each has evolved in ways that they couldn’t have imagined. Here’s what the first two companies, Parsly and BluPoint, had to say. 

Parsly’s founders Robin Bilgil and Simon Edwards summed up their six months by saying: “We’ve learnt more during our time at the Catalyst Centre than we did during three years at university!” Starting their journey as recipe2door, Robin and Simon have spent their time going through an exciting re-brand, and working incredibly hard on refining their business model, making significant changes to what they had when they first arrived to ensure that their service is exactly what their customers want. Having a dedicated work environment has been extremely important to them as they have spent many a long night overcoming technical hurdles whilst getting their beta website up and running.

Judge David Bream (Director, SETsquared Southampton) commented that the Parsly team had demonstrated real resilience, getting up and brushing themselves off whenever they hit a rocky patch when many less entrepreneurial people would have given up. We certainly applaud them for turning things around!

So what’s next for Parsly we hear you ask? Well, immediately after their presentation, Robin and Simon raced up to Birmingham for the 2014 Food and Drink Expo at the Birmingham NEC, where they were part of an expert panel discussing innovation in the food industry. The next day they took to the stage to discuss Parsly and the revolution of bringing food from your iPad to your plate. 

They plan to continue their hunt for investment too, which is gathering momentum and looks encouraging. They also have plans to start working with a select few exciting food brands on a new service offering – it’s top secret at the moment but we’re sure you’ll be hearing all about it in the near future! We’re excited to see how their new website is received, and we’ll all be signing up as soon as we decide what to cook! To read more about Parsly, click here

When BluPoint’s founder Mike Santer first walked in to pitch for his place in the Catalyst Centre, the judging panel immediately saw that his enthusiasm, passion and business acumen would create a successful business. During the last six months this hasn’t faltered, and he has become one of the best networkers the incubator has ever seen, in turn enthusing all those around him. 

Mike’s time in the Catalyst Centre has seen him focus on the Company’s business plan, the technology behind it and accessing funding. Having received a grant to build fully functional prototypes that work on solar energy, he will now be able to prove that his idea can really change the lives of those living in developing economies.

Mike said of his time here: “Catalyst mentor Phil Sharpe had been an invaluable sounding board for my ideas. Having someone who knows my business inside and out and someone who challenges and criticises has been very important.” 

The Judges’ final piece of advice to BluPoint? Just go for it! All the groundwork is done and now it’s time to roll out! 

So what’s next for BluPoint? Right now Mike is travelling to rural Africa on the first of his many research trips. He will follow this with a visit to India where he will be introducing his product to a new market. The purpose of these trips is to demonstrate and test the fully functional prototype in situ with the overall aim of securing funding and rolling-out the product to a pioneering group of towns or villages as a test case. 

In the longer term, BluPoint aims to change the lives of people living in low-resources communities in Sub-Saharan Africa as well as India, giving them access to the content they want, including important health messages, news, weather and advice. Users can also upload digital content from their mobile devices to share or store locally. The aim is also to allow village entrepreneurs the ability to not only receive content, but also to upload content and improve the local economies. Mike’s enthusiasm and passion have served him well, and BluPoint has a great future ahead of it. To read more about BluPoint, click here

Look out for our next blog where we showcase the remaining two Catalyst Centre tenants: RocPro and SAL Scientific.