Edinburgh medtech specialist sees opportunities in India

James Hardie.

Age:

39.

What is your business called? Sanollo.

Where is it based? Edinburgh.

What does it produce, what services does it offer?

We specialise in helping the best medical technology enter new markets. Our goal is to do so faster, cheaper and more effectively than an in-house team. We do this through our insight reports, market entry strategy, and trial and distributor management.

To whom does it sell?

Our typical clients are UK medical technology brands looking to grow international revenue. Generally we find that medical device companies in the UK are split 80/ 20 between selling domestically to the NHS and dabbling in some international markets. Often we see a common theme of companies “stumbling into markets”, where they perhaps have a handful of markets, or several markets with which they are not fully able to get to grips.

We take a data driven approach to help our clients choose the best markets for their products. From there we use a combination of best practice from our experience and new techniques to help our clients grow their revenue.

What is its turnover?

£200,000 +.

How many employees?

Four.

When was it formed?

June 2020.

Why did you take the plunge?

We had been planning Sanollo for several years before we took the plunge. We felt that with the range of new technologies in the UK, a more agile and innovative approach could help these companies take their products internationally.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

I was working for a UK based manufacturer of medical devices focused on reducing rates of hospital-acquired infections. I was with this company for 14 years in a wide range of roles within their international division including a stint living in Dubai as its Regional Sales Director for the Middle East, Africa and India.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

The business was self-funded. This meant we had to build our brand, website and reach our target customers pretty quickly. Fortunately, we are a business development advisor so writing our first piece of business was a matter of going through our own process. Since then we have been organically funded.

What was your biggest break?

Even though we were confident we could bring value to our clients, signing our first client and delivering our first project was definitely validation that our concept was effective.

What was your worst moment?

Happily, we have had no bad moments so far. Of course there is business you would like to win that you do not; fortunately we are experienced in business so completely understand that some clients are not ready to work with you, or you are not a good fit for them.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

Definitely our clients: we work with such a diverse range of companies, all of whom have incredible products and a real passion for their business. The products and people we have in the UK really are world-leading.

What are your ambitions for the business?

We would like, ideally, to keep our team as small as we can to maintain our innovative edge. On the other hand, we anticipate growing our team in Edinburgh, and also opening a small office in London over the next three years. The healthcare technology market is vast and it is such a great industry to work in, and we believe there will be plenty of opportunities coming up for growth in international markets which we hope in turn will accelerate our business growth to new levels.

What could the Westminster and/or Scottish governments do that would help?

Brexit and Covid-19 have of course had a huge impact on the healthcare technology landscape. Over the last year and a half, both Westminster and Holyrood have, quite rightly, been focusing their efforts on controlling the pandemic.

Brexit has come with challenges for UK companies operating in Europe, but there are opportunities outside of the markets closer to home. It is not a surprise that all of our clients are interested in India. It is a huge and growing healthcare market, which comes with challenges and complexities. Fortunately, it is a real area of knowledge for us, as I have worked there for 15 years and know the intricacies of the marketplace.

The NHS brand is such a global force that it would be great to see more healthcare-focused trade missions from both the Scottish and UK governments. Of course Germany, Japan and the US have great healthcare brands as well, but it is always pleasing to hear how well respected the NHS brand is.

Healthcare is growing globally and there is such innovation in the UK and as the NHS looks to reduce operating costs, and improve public healthcare, companies have a wide and vast opportunity for overseas growth.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned about business?

Initially we were nervous about launching Sanollo during a global pandemic. We now realise how innovative the industry is in difficult times. Healthcare companies that have seen a slight decline in the last 18 months such as providers of surgical equipment are now seeing a rapid increase in volume as hospitals around the globe start to tackle their backlog.

The most valuable lesson we have learnt is to see the opportunities that arise from difficult situations. Reacting quickly to the impact on our sector of events such as Covid-19 and Brexit has been really important to us and our clients.

How do you relax?

I have a busy family life. My wife and I have two young children. When I do get some spare time, I enjoy playing golf, cycling, watching rugby and fly fishing.

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992