Ahead of the Venture Catalyst Challenge (VCC) final on the 23rd March 2017 we look back to past VCC contestants and finalists to see where they are now.
In the second of our interviews we spoke with 2015 VCC participants Fresh Check. Fresh Check is revolutionising the way we understand infection, by making bacterial contamination visible with a simple sticker that changes colour from blue to orange when your food has actually gone off. Since VCC they have expanded their product range to include a Fresh Check spray for detection of bacteria in at risk areas, such as kitchens and toilets. The three co-founders, all Imperial alumni, include CEO Alex Bond, CTO John Simpson and CFO Robert Peach.
Alex Bond filled us in on the company’s progress:
1. How did participating in the VCC affect Fresh Check?
Participating in the VCC was essential to the formation of Fresh Check. Prior to the competition we had followed a primarily academic career path and had only limited experience in the business world. The VCC is what taught us to turn our raw idea into something that was marketable, which I don’t think we would have been able to do on our own. For certain it would have taken us a lot longer!!
2. What have you been up to since?
Since the VCC we have been incredibly busy; entering competitions, refining our product, getting IP protection (well, almost getting protection!) and finding our first customers. We took what we learnt from the VCC and have continued to apply it to Fresh Check as we’ve developed a business model around selling to cleaning companies. We’re also a part of the Climate-KIC program and have won the Shell LiveWIRE award. The cherry on top has got to be our feature on the 2017 European Forbes 30-under-30 lists for Dorm Room Founders and Science and Healthcare!
3. What has been the most exciting development/experience for you and the company since you took part in the VCC?
The most exciting development for us has to be securing commercial trials – knowing that there are people who want to work with us and buy our product to help reduce bacterial contamination and food spoilage is something that makes all of us incredibly proud.
4. What would you say to an industry giant that wanted to support young entrepreneurs?
I would say that the most idfficult thing for us has been time management. The constraints of managing Fresh Check wilst making sure we’ve got money to pay the bills and keep us housed has meant sacrificing time we wish we could have spent on Fresh Check. Really anything to help manage this would be helpful!
5. What do you hope the next five years has in store for you, your product and the company?
In the next 5 years we’re hopng to see our smart use-by date in food products all over the UK and in many places around the world. We’d also like to see a drive towards discarding the use-by date so that there is clear incentive to reduce food wastage and prevent bacterial illness. I see us having a few products out there to help around the home and for us to begin approaching the healthcare market with new and innovative devices to reduce bacterial contamination.
Alex Bond is CEO of Fresh Check and leads it’s operations. He obtained his MChem and is now studying for a PhD in Chemical Biology at Imperial. CTO John Simpson also holds a Master in Chemistry and is working towards his PhD at Imperial. His PD focuses on studying single cell proteomics with the primary goal of a more efficient use of primary tissue samples in drug discovery. CFO Robert Peach is a graduate from the Imperial Physics Masters course and has also now moved to a PhD at Imperial College London.
To find out more about the IBP only post-final meet and greet at this year’s VCC final see here. To register please email firstname.lastname@example.org