By Jonathan Davies
After months of planning, preparation, pitching and applauding, the inaugural Making Business Happen awards ended with four winners being given a launchpad to future success.
Despite being organised by the University of South Wales (USW), three of four awards were open to students and graduates from universities across the UK. The Graduate Start-up Award, open to businesses less than three-years old and launched by university graduates, was won by Akshay Peer and Matthew Lakelin for their business, TrackCel Ltd.
After the awards ceremony, I caught up with Akshay to chat about the business, the awards and where they see themselves going.
Tell me about the business
TrakCel is a technology based company specialising in orchestrating regenerative medicine based supply chain. The technology is completely customisable and provides visibility across the supply chain, records each event and reports any unplanned or planned events in real time. We are already working with GlaxoSmithKline and Cell Therapy Catapult and are also in the final stages of negotiating terms with large cell therapy development companies and manufacturers in the United States.
What made you enter the Making Business Happen awards?
It was an impulsive reaction to something I saw on Twitter! When I actually read through the competition etc. I thought why not see where we stand. We had already won MediWales' Start-up of the Year so I was hopeful that we might get shortlisted.
What is it about your business that you think impressed the judges?
Not sure really! I guess it was the fact that TrakCel was working with industry leaders in creating a technology which is a part of a new revolution in healthcare might have helped. Also, TrakCel is a spin-out from a Welsh University, invested in by a Welsh Life Sciences company and are working with the largest British Pharmaceutical company, I believe this is the kind of innovation most organisations are pushing for where the technology is made in Britain and provides British industry a competitive advantage.
What was your mentality heading into the ceremony? Did you have a speech prepared just in case, or were you just happy to get where you had?
I didn't have a speech prepared. Matthew is good with words so he was supposed to deliver the speech (in case we won). I think we both wanted to win but we didn't actually think we would as the other candidates had great success stories and business ideas. We do feel lucky to win it.
What was your reaction to winning?
I was very nervous as the runners up was announced and genuinely didn't think we would win it. When the announcement was made it took a few seconds to take-in what had just happened. I was going to give Matthew a hug in all the excitement but decided against it. It was a great moment, something i will remember for the rest of my life.
How do you envisage using the business support package and where do you see the company going from here?
I think we will enrol one of my colleagues on the ILM (Institute of Leadership & Management) Award and hopefully use the advice from Natwest to raise further investment. TrakCel is at a very exciting stage of its development and we are aiming to deliver our first product in July. We also plan to add five more roles in the next 4-6months to assist us in delivering this technology to our clients and provide post installation support.