It has been a bit of a whirlwind for Lab Improvements founders Alex Bushell and Steve Wright. Having left their former employer after an international takeover in 2013, Bushell and Wright began working out of the Innovation Cluster’s incubator at Trent University, developing their CapTrack product, which is an innovative, benchtop medical specimen capping and archiving device. Launched last fall, this portable apparatus manages refrigerated inventory and caps specimen tubes for medical laboratories. It relies on patented technology using robotics and software end enables smaller labs to save time and money while improving the quality of their lab results. Not only is their manufacturing done local, the majority of their parts are locally sourced, which is a source of pride for the owners.
Last week, the firm won $5,000 in cash and over $20,000 in business support services in the local Bears’ Lair Entrepreneurial Competition at the event’s grand finale. Based on the CBC hit entrepreneurial series Dragons’ Den, this annual competition for up-and-coming local entrepreneurs is designed to encourage entrepreneurship in the Peterborough & Kawartha region. Entrepreneurs pitch their product and business innovations to a panel of local judges to win cash and business support services.
Lab Improvements was awarded top prize in the Innovation stream for their design and manufacture of CapTrack, their portable, benchtop-sized device for medical laboratories. The prizes were awarded based on the selected finalists’ presentations which were rated for innovation, commercialization, diversification, business plan quality and the benefit to the local economy.
Presentations are not really Bushell’s thing, and he explained he had to get out of his comfort zone to make his pitch, and it obviously worked. Judges were impressed at how their product addressed the needs of their customers. Alex also picked up the $200 FastStart award as an entrepreneur under the age of 30. FastStart is an entrepreneurial training partnership created by Trent University, Fleming College and the Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster designed to help entrepreneurs between ages 18 to 29 to develop their business ideas in order to their own businesses.
With the local media blitz behind him, this soft spoken entrepreneur is concentrating on the sales pitches that matter the most to his business: ones to potential customers. Despite the firm’s local focus, they are after the US market and Alex is working trade shows to secure distributors there. As he explains, they are “currently focusing on rolling the CapTrack out into the US market and preparing production to be able to ramp up.” Let’s hope Trump’s trade policy politics don’t spoil the party. KG