Listen to other people’s advice. It is impossible to be an expert on everything, so it pays to follow someone else’s guidance at times.
Dr. Stewart Newlove is a co-founder and director of Antibodies.com; a digital marketplace that enables life scientists to purchase critical research reagents at cost-effective prices from the primary manufacturers. Based in Cambridge (UK), they serve life scientists worldwide – helping accelerate our understanding of biology and the causes of disease.
Where did the idea for Antibodies.com come from?
The idea for Antibodies.com was developed by me and my business partner, when we noticed issues with the scientific research products market, particularly with antibodies. Essentially, products were being sourced from a primary manufacturer, rebranded and sold to researchers at an unreasonably high price, as a result of the marketing and operational costs involved. This meant that the end users were not getting the cost-effective products they required in order to ensure that they maximised their lab budgets. In light of this, we decided to set up our own company. We source our products from the same primary manufacturers, but by maintaining a lean business model and not altering the branding on the products, we can deliver them at a lower price to our customers. In this way we are trying to change the market to make it more transparent and beneficial to scientists who depend upon these services to carry out ground-breaking research.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
In a typical day, I find myself catching up with our employees, managing our project pipelines, and knuckling down to some coding. Given the early stage of our company, there is still a lot to do and I find coffee a very useful tool to optimise my productivity throughout the day!
How do you bring ideas to life?
As someone from a scientific background, I tend to be quite methodical when it comes to actioning new ideas. I first discuss it with my business partner, to establish whether or not they agree it is a good idea, and what the possible pitfalls might be. I then try and implement the idea as soon as possible. Sometime you cannot be too methodical though, and have to just give things a go.
What’s one trend that excites you?
People’s changing approach to climate change – environmental issues are finally being taken seriously. This is good news for us now, and even more so for future generations. The insulating packs we use are made of biodegradable material, and we use starch rather than Styrofoam pellets in our shipments, but we are always looking for new ways we can further minimise our environmental damage.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I try and focus on one task at a time, rather than constantly checking my emails, for example. In this way, I end up getting more done over the course of the day. It is tempting to panic when you have a long to-do list, but multi-tasking can sometimes result in tasks being left half done or poorly carried out.
What advice would you give your younger self?
There are many answers I could give to this! In the end one thing which I always say to my own children is: if you have a difficult task ahead, just get on with it. It is easy to waste more time worrying about something than actually doing it.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I have a saying – “better an empty house than a bad tenant”. I think it is important to careful review all aspects of your business and quickly put an end to issues that are having a negative effect; whether this be a marketing agency that are not delivering results, a pricing strategy that is unsustainable, or new employees that do not fit the culture.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Listen to other people’s advice. It is impossible to be an expert on everything, so it pays to follow someone else’s guidance at times. In this way you can learn new things all the time, no matter how experienced you are. However, you need to be careful, there are a lot of incompetent people out there with bad advice!
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Being patient. It takes time to build up a successful business, and there are many steps that need to be taken. Exercising patience at every stage enables you to ensure that things are put in place properly, and good working relationships are established.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I think all entrepreneurs have many experiences of failure, especially, as your starting out and trying to validate and iterate your idea. The important part is to believe in your vision, trust in the process, and respond quickly to feedback – soon enough you will be used to rejection and failure!
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
If you have a particular topic that interests you, or a friend who you feel you have particularly interesting conversations with, why not start a podcast? This is a booming industry at the moment. I listen to a number of thought-provoking podcasts, and it always strikes me what a great way to earn money that could be.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
A pasta machine, which I am learning to use. There is something satisfying about making the pasta myself, and it’s great for family meals.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
We use Stripe to receive payments & keep track of refunds – this is very important for us an online company.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat” by neurologist Oliver Sacks is a fascinating read. It is a brilliant first-hand account of his encounters with different patients who have a variety of neurological disorders. Even those who are not from a science background will find it captivating.
What is your favorite quote?
“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford
• Stay focused on completing a task, as multi-tasking can sometimes end up wasting time.
• Spend less time worrying about things, and just get on with what needs to be done.
• Listen to other people with expertise in different fields, you may learn something unexpected.
• Be patient, and you will be rewarded for your persistence further down the line.
• Always make time for the things you enjoy.
Dr Stewart Newlove on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stewart-newlove-b8755918/
Antibodies.com on Twitter: @antibodies_com