Young Innovators Success Stories: Rogiros Theophanous, Theo Technologies, North West
For Rogiros Theophanous, completing his application for Innovate UK and Prince's Trust's Young Innovators Award was where his journey began.
Originally from Cyprus, the physics graduate has long held a passion for robotics and engineering. He would often spend many hours contemplating how to formulate the solutions to the IT problems he was seeing SMEs experience.
This led him to developing an innovative, cloud-based IT platform to house the digital resources of growing businesses.
He says that, since winning the Award from Innovate UK and The Prince’s Trust, the growth milestones for his business Theo Technologies Ltd have ‘piled up’, each with seemingly more gravity than the one before.
“I remember two weeks into the programme, getting the incorporation confirmation from Companies House. It overnight started to make the dream a reality,” says Rogiros.
He continued by carrying out market research, which led him to completely rethink his business model. From there, he was ready to show his business plan to potential partners and started to engage with the investment community.
Rogiros says, “The biggest moment to date was the £100,000 worth of equity investment secured through our investor pitches. This allowed the team to come together and focus our efforts into our product development and route to market.”
Today, Theo Technologies Ltd is on the verge of releasing the beta version of its technology to its network of stakeholders. Soon after, Rogiros will launch the full product to market.
It was the financial support, provided by Innovate UK as a grant and living allowance, that enabled him to bring his innovative ambitions to life.
“The living allowance was enough to support more focus towards the project instead of spending time on a full-time job at the same time as the project,” he says.
Meanwhile, the grant was used to complete the legal process of incorporating the company and purchasing prototype material.
“At the same time, the fact that we were working on a ‘budget’ forced me to make smart decisions about what is worth spending money on and what is not necessary,” Rogiros says.
Culture of innovation
Once the product has been launched to market, Rogiros will focus on creating the operational structure needed to better serve his target customers.
This, in turn, will enable him to create a sustainable, scalable business.
“During that time, we will continue working on our proprietary software protocols with Lancaster University that will make us stand out in the industry as well as focus on building a team internally that operates within an inclusive value-centred, innovation culture,” he says.
Rogiros dedicates a large part of the sharp business focus he now has to the support received by his Innovation Champion, who worked with him as part of the wider support package delivered by KTN.
“Sometimes they will have the answers you want, sometimes they won’t. But having a person to speak to helps you work things out, helps you to see threats before you stumble upon them and, most importantly, keeps you accountable for the plan you created the previous week.”
He adds, “Instead of planning 30 tasks and achieving none, an Innovation Champion helps you plan two that will make the next ten easier to achieve. In short, the focus created within those sessions was the fuel that powered all other actions.”
For Rogiros, the innovation journey can be one that is fraught with fear, struggle, and a feeling of inadequacy. But that is not the whole story.
“Every moment of fear is an opportunity to become more confident, every situation of struggle is an opportunity to become stronger, and every moment of inadequacy is a learning opportunity.”
“Over time, without even noticing, I have gained experience, knowledge, and confidence as well as a sense of humility which promotes empathy towards other entrepreneurs because I know what they are going through,” he says.
Before joining the programme Rogiros would often find himself in a cycle of indecision about where to go next to progress his ambitions. Now, he has the confidence to trust his instinct and go for it.
“As a young innovator you are forced to learn as you do, run before you walk, and swim before you float. In a way, that has made me a person who is no longer afraid to jump into any situation head first.”
He adds, “Being a young innovator is a journey. Whenever you achieve a goal, another goal will emerge, and every single step is a learning curve that will help your business grow but, most importantly, help you become…more.”
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