Rising Star: Simon Cartmell of university spin-out Apatech

Apatech, a manufacturer of artificial bone-graft material, has grown sales to £3.1 million from £270,000 in 2005. We interview its CEO Simon Cartmell.

How did Apatech get started?

It’s a classic university spin-out. In 1999 the intellectual property was put into a holding vehicle and a management consultant was appointed to develop the technology to a point at which it could be tested on animals and proven. The company got funding from 3i in 2001.

When did you get involved?

By 2003 the management consultant, at that time the company’s CEO, was struggling to get the business funded. The idea clearly had great potential, but there was a need to make money. The existing CEO was shuffled sideways and I was brought in to write the business plan and gain funding.

Describe your management style.

It’s very easy in a start-up to focus on results and finance and forget about people. We have quarterly appraisals and performance-related rewards, and we give everyone share options too.

What’s the next step for Apatech?

We’re looking at a major refinancing, which would take the business from 47 staff to 120 or possibly 180, depending on which model we use.

Any advice for growing businesses?

In rapid-growth situations, hire someone who can not only do the job as it is today, but as it will be tomorrow. Otherwise you will only have to throw people out or change jobs around them.

Marc Barber

Raven Connelly

Marc was editor of GrowthBusiness from 2006 to 2010. He specialised in writing about entrepreneurs, private equity and venture capital, mid-market M&A, small caps and high-growth businesses.

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