Like most entrepreneurs, my career has been defined by successes and failures. Indeed by the time I set out to establish DNAfit in 2013 I had experienced equal measures of both, and was determined to use these lessons to create something special.
My mantra has always been that if you can see it, you can achieve it. Of course that doesn’t mean that all you need to do is imagine your success and it will materialise, there are a million things which will get in your way after that and it’s seemingly always a work in progress, but it starts with sincere belief in an idea.
By the time 2018 arrived, my vision to allow consumers an easy and accessible route to improving their wellbeing through the power of their own DNA had gained some solid momentum. As a self funded startup, I had established a talented core team and built a strong brand, centred on products which I really believed could help people. We were doing a few million Pounds of annual revenue and enjoying enviable year on year growth. Indeed, DNAfit was very quickly emerging as a strong player in the consumer genetics space while now also picking up accolades and catching the eye of competitors, investors and potential acquirers. We even had an endorsement from Rio Ferdinand and two highly coveted Queen’s Awards hanging on the wall to prove it! I remember that time well because in some ways I had been there before — I had succeeded (and failed) at creating a £10m+ company and by now had a proven track record of doing so. This time though I could imagine something bigger and it felt like we might be at the crossroads to achieving that. The next step had to be a purposeful one.
They say that “iron sharpens iron” (proverbs 27:12) and in the world of potential business suitors, this statement rings true. Even though I knew that we needed more capital in order to secure the business and keep up with our own ambitions, by the time I began speaking to the brilliant Danny Yeung and the Prenetics team in earnest, DNAfit had already walked away from several investment offers and potential acquirers. Business is about so much more than money and, from my experience, focussing on enrichment was the quickest way to fail. I was locked in on my grander vision and to find real success in any transition that had to be shared, as did our business principles and values.
I have an email in my inbox which was sent to me two years prior to Prenetics’ acquisition of DNAfit (2016). In the email, Danny tells me that he believes an opportunity exists for us to create a $1b+ company and, most importantly, positively impact millions of lives in the process. I reply by agreeing that the window of opportunity is now. Team Prenetics, which even today within our EMEA operation includes the majority of my original crew, shares the same vision which captured me all those years ago. We’re on a mission to bring healthcare closer to millions, by disrupting some of the conventional systems which create barriers to access. From DNA and blood tests which detect important genetic predispositions and measure heart health, to non-invasive stool testing for the early detection of colon cancer — our tests are expansive and can all be done within the comfort and convenience of your own home. While belonging to one of our three pillars, namely, prevention, diagnostics and personalised care, each product is packaged and integrated into one ecosystem — removing complexity and delivering convenience where it’s needed most — your health. I’m tempted to not mention the 22+ million COVID-19 tests which we’ve delivered around the globe, helping the world to fight back against the pandemic. Only because I think we are all wanting to look forward.
Why am I feeling so proud and reminiscent? This has been a big year. Prenetics is now a NASDAQ listed, publicly traded entity — the famous bell rang on 18 May 2022 to confirm this, while also announcing Prenetics as Hong Kong’s first ever Unicorn, or billion Dollar startup. This moment was a culmination of years of focus, ingenuity and dedication, delivered by the collective hard work of hundreds of people from all around the globe, and I am glad I played a part!
There is another old saying which goes “it takes a village to raise a child”, meaning that doing this job well is a task far too big for two parents — there are parallels to this and growing a business successfully. I have so much gratitude for our valued partners, fantastic clients and, of course, the tremendously gifted team at Prenetics, spanning Hong Kong, wider South East Asia, London, South Africa and India. Without the vision these teams would not exist but it certainly works the other way too — i’m blown away every day by the brilliant people around me.
In signing off I’ll leave you with one more saying, this time it’s my own, albeit borrowed and adapted from one you may have heard — “If you don’t love the journey, the destination will evade you.” Along the road it’s important to recognise milestones and moments of success, the path is often challenging and so these landmarks should be celebrated. That is what our listing was to me, a stop along the way — the journey is far from done. There are still far too many people suffering from conditions which could be prevented or living a life which isn’t optimised, because the information which could help them isn’t easily available. That’s our purpose at Prenetics and dare I say it, it keeps getting bigger. It’s easy to be brought down by the world’s current state of affairs, but there is also truly so much to be excited about. I love operating on the cutting edge of that.
In the time that has followed our arrival at the Nasdaq we have been hard at work creating value and innovation for our customers, and we’re determined not to stop. Watch this space…we’re just getting started.