Andrew Wolfson, CEO & CIO of Pembroke VCT, looks at the state of play of start-ups during Covid-19, and picks his four stand-out companies.
We have always invested in proactive health and never has there been greater opportunity for young innovative companies to make their mark.
Thriva provide at-home blood testing kits; subscribe, receive a kit via the post, fill up a small vial, pop it back in the post box, receive your results.
Thriva is not just a blood testing kit; it's a healthcare tool that helps anyone track what's really going on inside their body.
They've created cutting-edge 'predictive results' to help people understand the value of the service and, once you get a result, they have enabled consumers to make small - scientifically backed - adjustments to their lifestyle in order to prevent ill health further down the road and to get more out of their bodies.
Another area of widespread interest right now is education and its delivery digitally. Recruiting new teachers to the profession is becoming a challenge for every school.
More demands are put on teachers and senior leadership teams. How we teach, how young people learn and how we measure success are all under the microscope.
We need to move away from the typical focus on data and league tables so that we can provide what is best for each individual learner.
To do this we need to be able to monitor individual progress efficaciously, to automate teacher workflows and to become data driven in improving learner outcomes for all.
Kinteract provide schools with a platform that they can use for teaching no matter where a student is physically based. Teachers can teach children in class at the same time as they teach children who are having to study remotely.
The platform assesses progress in real time with AI powered prompts on knowledge gaps and young people end up with a portable digital learning record that evidences learning and skills
There is a gap in the market, and we think Kinteract has the team to deliver a platform for the future.
The past six months have not just presented health and educational challenges. They have propelled changes in behaviour and culture.
Photobooks are by no means new. But the combination of a platform to translate digital mobile phone images into physical products, which fulfil a need for people to keep in touch with family and friends, meant Popsa founders Tom Cohen and Liam Houghton were in the right place at the right time.
Popsa is a tech-enabled business that minimises the time required to build photo albums. A process that used to take me over two hours of "drag and drop" now takes no more than ten minutes.
Developing the technology was one thing but delivering a quality photo album another.
That is where Tom and Liam called upon the expertise of Declan Mellett, who chairs the company, to provide them with the print and logistics know-how that would have been their knowledge-gap.
Indeed, one of the lessons from talking to smaller companies is that the successful ones will often know ahead of time where these knowledge gaps are and have plans to fill them.
We do not want to give the impression that all start-ups we are invested in have managed to sail through this crisis unblemished.
Not all small companies have been able to pivot their business models to conform to the current "new normal".
HotelMap is a company in the thick of the pandemic, due to its focus on technology for hotel booking at large scale events such as conferences and trade shows.
However, HotelMap has gained relevance - finding greater purpose in a world where venues and events must find ways to regenerate confidence with audiences and need new revenue streams to complement rising costs and reduced attendance.
Steve Potter and the management team at HotelMap are now working with venues globally to help them "Kickstart the Restart" with the HotelMap StaySafe Campaign to boost event attendees' confidence of the safety standards of hotels near to each venue.
We have to be responsible to our underlying shareholders when weighing up further financial support of our portfolio companies.
HotelMap is fortunate that it has a large cash reserve that enables it to ride out this storm - but as and when business travel and events returns (and who knows when that might be) we will be helping Steve take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead.
Our portfolio is full of a range of different companies, at different stages of growth and in different sectors.
There is one theme all our companies have in common – exceptional founders and management teams who have the ability to adapt their business models.
The pandemic has been difficult for the business world generally. How has it been for the start-up sector? Andrew Wolfson, CEO & CIO of Pembroke VCT, looks at the state of play of start-ups during Covid-19, and picks his four stand-out companies.
The pandemic has been difficult for the business world generally. How has it been for the start-up sector? Andrew Wolfson, CEO & CIO of Pembroke VCT, looks at the state of play of start-ups during Covid-19,...