Company name: JAOtech Ltd
Founders: Warren Kressinger Dunn, Graham Grover, Philip Corri
Age: WKD (44), GG (54), PC (34)
Based: Redhill, UK and Taipei, Taiwan
Staff Numbers: 31
Date started: November 2006
Tell us what your business does:
JAOtech designs and manufactures a range of high performance, innovative embedded touchscreen Smart Terminals – all in one medical computers for patient bedside entertainment and clinical access.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
The initial concept for a Smart Terminal was conceived whilst working with an NHS supplier in my previous role. This development concentrated on a innovative computer that would integrate VoIP phones and integrate entertainment around the bedside in UK NHS hospitals.
How did you know there was a market for it?
NHS’s patient power initiative determined that every bed in the UK should have independent entertainment and communication solutions. Global business developed from the UK healthcare model and the obvious benefits of our products to hospitals provided us with enough stimulus to generate our own market surveys and assess the clear potential for this global emerging market.
What were you doing before starting up?
I was a director for an electronics distributor which specialised in LCD displays, touchscreens PCs and system business for specialist applications. I gained much experience over the 15 years that I was employed enabling me to eventually focus on system design and development of embedded technology and integrated touch PC platforms.
How did you raise the money?
We didn’t approach banks or venture capital companies because banks are generally risk averse and require a high level of security to support any loans, ultimately resulting in requests for personal guarantees from the shareholders. Venture capital wasn’t an option for the shareholders as it was decided that they did not want to release the volume of shares that would be required by a venture capitalist.
For these reasons the shareholders used their own funds.
Where is your business based?
Our head office is based in Redhill, Surrey, UK with additional offices in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Connecticut, USA and our R&D and manufacturing office in Taipei, Taiwan.
How have you promoted your business?
Our business is promoted through close working relationships with our customers, partners and sales channel. A huge focus and investment for our marketing activity has been centralised on our website and partner portal which aids communication and the supply of information, especially with the challenges that we face in trading globally. We are present at major exhibitions across the globe and when relevant we will invest in key trade publications. There is no marketing activity that has failed or we will not try again. Conversely, we are always open to trying new methods of promotion and try to differentiate our marketing from competitors.
What has your growth been like?
We have experienced significant year on year growth to a current turnover of £7.5M after just 3 years of trading. We have been profitable each year which is comforting considering the vast expenditure on product development and the acquisition of a loss making US company. We are currently ahead of where our business plan suggested we’d be.
What’s the impact on your home life been like?
Our business is split globally so of course the travel is tough. I try to make sure that the time I do spend with the family is good quality and completely focussed without the distraction of work.
What would you say the greatest difficulty has been in starting up?
Addressing such a major opportunity with limited start up capital and balancing the growth of the business in line with the demands of the market.
What was your first big breakthrough?
There have been a few including securing our first major contract for £220,000 where the client paid in advance; a contract for 5,000 terminals to a system organiser that supplier the NHS and winning a contract with Germany’s largest hospital despite our main competitor being Germany’s largest electronic company.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
We want to be recognised as the market leader. We also want to be recognised by our staff as a fun loving and professional company as well as provide an excellent return for our shareholders. There is no formal exit plan but it is likely that there are companies or individuals out there that could be better placed to take the company to the higher levels that it deserves to reach.