In this series
, we’ll meet the winners of Northern Stars 2017
. What makes 10 of the best startups from across the North of England tick? Let’s find out…
This time, we hear from VYPR founder and CEO, Ben Davies.
What’s your company’s elevator pitch?
VYPR is a data science platform for the FMCG (Fast-moving Consumer Goods) sector that enables companies to create product innovation through science.
How did the company get started?
Having spent nearly 15 years working in the FMCG sector, both for supermarkets as a buyer and manufacturers in commercial roles, I gained a profound understanding of the deeply flawed product innovation process. I witnessed at first hand the cost that goes into the innovation process for all parties, and saw how poor the output of the process (the new products that were launched) was. I knew that there had to be a better way.
I’ve always had an interest in the technology sector, and became aware of the crowd-sourcing movement across multiple sectors from finance through to academic research. I decided to take the basic concept of crowdsourcing and apply it to transforming the product innovation process using data science. From there, VYPR was born.
What are you looking to get out of Northern Stars?
We’re really proud of everything we’ve achieved over the past four years, and it’s great to get such high profile recognition for the whole team. Northern Stars gives us an amazing platform on which to talk about what we do to a wider audience, outside of our core sector.
We’re proud to be a Manchester startup. It can without a doubt become one of the greatest cities on the planet to start a technology company. We have huge ambitions and there is no doubt that the Northern Stars network can help us get there.
What’s your biggest business challenge?
At the moment our main focus is on the shift from startup to scaleup. To achieve our growth ambitions we need to build a scalable enterprise sales team. That means having a really disciplined approach to hiring, retention, lead generation, inbound marketing and many more facets of the commercial function.
There are also implications for how we grow our software development team so they can continue to build a platform that supports our growth ambitions and delivers huge impact on our market. The whole company is going through a maturity process to ensure we have the right infrastructure and processes to support our growth.
What was it like to pitch in the Grand Final?
It was an amazing day. The support from all the Tech North crew was first class, hence why the event went so smoothly. If I’m honest it was a little terrifying walking out in front of nearly 400 people (!) but once I got going I found it really enjoyable, and would have happily gone on for longer…
It was a real pleasure to be able to talk about the company and our brilliant team in front of such a big audience. The calibre of the rest of the competition was outstanding, and it was really enjoyable to spend the day with them all backstage.
Where do you see your company in two years’ time?
We have some very big growth ambitions so our principle objective in two years’ time would be to stay on course to achieve our plans. For us, that means building a scalable enterprise software business with a big presence outside of the UK.
We know the innovation pain point exists in other mature retail markets such as the US and western Europe, so we’ll look to seed those markets as soon as we’re ready. We can’t achieve any of our plans without an outstanding team, so much of our focus over the next two years will be building on the amazing team we have today, becoming a world-class people development organisation and a truly great company to work for.
Meet more Northern Stars.