Our latest Ones to Watch, in partnership with NatWest, are Ignite Data who help pharmaceutical companies streamline drug development through better use of data and technology. We caught up with Managing Director, Dan Hydes.
What was the inspiration behind Ignite Data? We wanted to build a high value business in a growth area whilst trying to do some good. We didn’t want to look back in 30 years having made a load of money from accident claims lines or sub-prime mortgages! We use data and tech to speed up drug development. Everybody benefits, patients, the NHS, biopharma and UK plc. What’s not to like?
Name a business that inspires you – why? GSK (GlaxoSmithKline) have been very inspirational to Ignite. They were the first pharmaceutical company to take the step to integrated digital data capture, rather than the traditional methods of people transcribing data from one computer to another. It sounds so obvious, but in reality it has been a monumental step. In an industry which can often be quite conservative they seem to view risk differently, more in the way you would expect a much smaller more agile to organisation to. And now they find themselves at the forefront of innovation in this space with projects like the Salford Lung Study. Their approach has definitely given us more confidence to re-invent traditional research processes.
Which business person inspires you and why? It is an obvious choice, but it’s hard not to admire Richard Branson. He believes that being successful in business and leaving the world a better place are not mutually exclusive. And he seems to strike a good work life balance too. Living on your tropical island helps, but he’s worked extremely hard for that.
Somebody in your personal network that inspires you – a friend, a colleague, an ex-boss, a family member… ? My partner Lucy but I’ve never met anyone so efficient and good at what she does! She has a lot of plates in the air all the time, including her yoga business and our children and she rarely drops one (and they’ll get over that with a bit of counselling). My ambition is to be as efficient with my time as she is.
Where do you go to get inspiration in your daily life? Resources/ blogs/ podcasts – can you name any? The whole lean start up movement is the real deal and we’ve been adhering to their philosophy from the very beginning. It works and we are proof. The phrase that always sticks in my mind in relation to customer development is “get out of the building” and talk to people. You can write business plans as much as you want, but nothing is more inciteful than finding someone prepared to put their hand in their pocket. And I try to do as much yoga as I can, that’s the real deal too.
What/ who would you like to inspire through Ignite’s impact on the world? The next generation of school children. When I was a kid career advice was abysmal. I clearly remember being told that I should be an accountant because I was good at maths – fortunately at a young age I already knew that was utter nonsense! Kids at school should be taught much more about business, entrepreneurship and economics so they can start early and make lots of mistakes before it matters. Doing what we’re doing is definitely not suited to everyone, but looking at how the world and the workplace is changing around us, I definitely want my children to be fully armed with all the facts about the pros and cons of running their own business before they decide what to do. And then they can make the world a better place for my retirement.