There are many routes that lead to starting your own business. For Alex Bushell and his partner Steve Wright, the path began with frustration on the job that peaked after their employer was purchased by a US multinational, leaving them feeling disconnected.
In 2013, Alex Bushell spent 40% of his time in the US and Tel Aviv, installing and servicing his employer’s multi-million dollar lab systems for big customers. The planned travel was difficult enough, but when systems began to malfunction, it was Alex who immediately headed to the airport to save the day. From the customer’s location, he would liaise with his supervisor, Steve Wright, and together they would devise a solution that occasionally required customized components and often meant that Bushell remained on site for an extended period of time.
Despite their age gap of almost 30 years, two years ago both men decided the time was right to go out on their own. They recognized an underserviced market niche: smaller labs including those in hospitals, where immediate lab test results were paramount where the current $3-5 million technology was not justifiable. These smaller labs relied on manual testing procedures which exposed the specimens to a variety of issues including cross-contamination. The two set out to develop a smaller, more affordable system for this market. Bushell explains, “While small labs face many of the same issues as larger ones, the traditional automation systems used by high volume labs are not practical for smaller facilities, such as those found in hospitals.”
Last month they launched CapTrack, an innovative, benchtop medical specimen capping and archiving device, into the U.S. market. This portable device that manages refrigerated inventory and caps specimen tubes for medical laboratories relying on patented technology using robotics and software that enables smaller labs to save time and money while improving the quality of their lab results. The system recaps sample tubes and enters the tubes’ information into a database, making it quicker to locate in refrigerated storage later on.
Bushell and Wright have been working out of the Innovation Cluster’s incubator at Trent University called “The CUBE” for the past two years with a team of 5 staff. They are particularly excited by the fact that the majority of their parts are sourced locally, and their manufacturing is done locally as well. Bushell is also keen to note that the only travel he will be required to do is to sell the product. It comes in a box ready to roll, almost a “plug and play” type of machine that sits on the counter and is compatible with power systems around the world. If it malfunctions, the customer ships it back and receives a new one. With a price tag of less than $50,000, it is affordable for many labs.
The product has captured the industry’s attention, and this week Bushell is in the US to introduce the product to two trade magazines that are featuring it in their publications. On next week’s agenda- hiring more staff to help the young firm deliver this innovative product to a market that is ready to buy. KG