In your own words – what do you do?

We develop safe, effective bacterial products that prevent and treat inflammatory illness

Where did your business idea come from?

A chance conversation in a corridor with a colleague (now CTO of Ferryx)! We’d noticed a lack of efficacy data for probiotics in treating active inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and came up with the hypothesis that this is due to the challenging environment found within the IBD gut. The IBD gut is rich in iron due to bleeding, stress or oral iron supplements. While many of our gut bacteria can use this iron as a growth factor, the species conventionally employed as probiotics (lactobacilli and bifidobacteria) cannot. This means that they are outcompeted and cannot have a beneficial effect during periods of active inflammation or stress. We came up with a plan to screen potential probiotics based on their ability to increase growth rate in response to iron and the concept of an iron/stress-responsive bacterial product was born. From there, we’ve expanded into other applications and developed a portfolio of bacterial products.

What’s the most exciting thing about what you’re doing?

Everything about working in a new start up is exciting so it’s hard to pick one thing! I would say that I get the biggest thrill from developing products that I’m genuinely passionate about and which have the potential to have a great impact on society.

What is your proudest moment so far?

My proudest moment so far has been seeing our technology go from a concept to a patented product.

What was your biggest challenge when you started your business?

The biggest challenge that we faced has been securing investment. This seems to be a common theme within many new businesses. It’s never easy, but it’s always worth it.

What would you do differently if you started now?

I would take more advice earlier on. You can never get too much advice too early. I was rather naïve as to what was involved in running a startup when we first decided to take this route and it would have made my life much easier if I’d got out there and talked to more people early on.

Does your original business plan reflect where you are now?

Not at all! Someone told me a few years ago that in business, you always have to be prepared to pivot and that has stuck with me. Getting tied into an early business plan is an incredibly dangerous strategy. Markets change all the time and, to be successful, you have to move with them.

What’s your vision for the next 12 months?

The next 12 months are a really exciting time for Ferryx as we continue to raise investment, launch our first food supplement and start to take steps towards the first clinical trial of our new drug product.

Do you have any advice/tips for founders considering raising investment at some point?

Network network network! Talk to anyone who’ll listen. You never know who may be able to open a door for you. Speak to people who have been there and done that. Find out what worked for them and, even more importantly, what didn’t. Perfect your pitch but be prepared to tailor it to different investors, and practice practice practice!

Can you recommend any useful tools/networks /services to someone looking to start a technology business?

SETsquared runs some great events, also check out what’s going on at Future Space and Unit DX. Last but by no means least, the TechSPARK website and events are a wealth of information.

What’s the one event you make sure you attend every single year?

For me, most important are microbiome networking events and the best one I’ve been to yet is the Hanson Wade Microbiome Movement Series.

Can you give one top tip for effective networking at events?

Perfect your elevator pitch, engage people within the first 10 seconds and you’ll get their attention for a few minutes.

In your opinion, what’s the number one thing founders need to look out for when growing a business?

Know your market and make sure you’re moving with it, not against it.

In your sector, who is the next big game-changer coming through?

In the microbiome space, there is a race to develop licensed pharmaceutical products containing bacterial products. A few companies have products in clinical trials now and are getting close to a breakthrough product. Ones to watch are Rebiotix (now part of Ferring), Seres Therapeutics, Vedanta Biosciences and Microbiotica.

Thanks, Jenny! Where shall we go to find out more about you?

Contact me directly by emailing jenny@ferryx.com or follow us on LinkedIn.