AbBaltis, a scientific start-up that specialises in providing biological materials to the In Vitro diagnostics industry as well as research organisations, has just closed its first year on Kent Science Park after seeing significant growth. The company, which ended their last financial year with a £10,000 turnover, now boasts a headcount of four people and finished it’s 2011-2012 year in September with a turnover of close to £200,000 – with sound profit margins.
Giedre Brandao, Managing Director of AbBaltis, is now looking to expand both her office and laboratory space on the park, as her business continues to grow. She will also shortly be taking on another member of staff, to help deal with increasing orders, and is investigating the possibility of taking on another apprentice.
Giedre discussed the development of her workforce and working with apprentices:
“When I reached the point that I needed to take on some staff, I decided that I wanted to take on an apprentice. I’ve seen so many young people I know finish education and then struggle to get a job because it is so competitive out there now, so I wanted to give someone a chance. Amy, my current apprentice, has been doing really well as a lab assistant. Obviously work is a very different environment from school, but it gives her the chance to learn as she goes and get on the job training. The next role I need to recruit for is a customer support specialist, and again, I’m considering taking on an apprentice and training them up.
“We’re not a big company yet, so when I’m hiring staff I’m looking for people who want to be here. I want them to feel like this is an exciting place to work and not just a job. I want my team to still be here in three years time – if they’re not I’ll feel like I’ve failed in some way, either because I’ve hired the wrong person, or I’ve not provided the right level of support.”
Giedre’s first 12 months on Kent Science Park have seen her go through rapid expansion. When she started onsite she had only just got a freezer to store her samples in – now, after working closely with Site Director James Speck, she is planning on spreading out to over 485 sq feet of space.
The nature of the work AbBaltis does, means that they are exporting scientific research material overseas, primarily to EU. It also has a direct impact on patient’s lives, as the materials lead to the production of new kits that improve the diagnosis of certain conditions – without these materials the research will not even start.
James commented on Giedre’s outstanding first year on site:
“Giedre and her small company AbBaltis is definitely one to watch. They are a superb example of what Kent Science Park and its businesses are all about – real innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. We shall continue to support her and her team in every way possible. The park has a proven capability of nurturing start-ups and I am confident that AbBaltis is on course for a successful future. We cannot praise Giedre enough in her use of young, local talent through apprenticeship – this is where real growth begins, not only creating jobs, but also giving those talented individuals the skills and knowledge for a secure future.”
Giedre discussed her ambitions for the future and difficulties of juggling owning a business and being a mother:
“Over the next year, I’d of course like to continue to expand. I’ll be looking to double the space I have and I’m aiming for close to half a million in turnover. I’ll also be looking to upskill the staff I’ve got, so that when we do expand they are able to start training others. The support I’ve had from Kent Science Park has been pivotal in my success so far, and I know James and the team will continue to help me. It is a very different set up here from most landlords – much more supportive!
“I’ve also had to work really hard to maintain a work-life balance, as being a female entrepreneur has it’s own challenges. During the day I’m working with my staff and dealing with customers, then I come home and cook dinner for my children, help them with their homework, put them to bed and then get on with working on other things for the business, such as redesigning the website. It’s a very long day but worth it when you start seeing the results!”