Meet Charles. UseResident and CEO of Fotenix.
A spin-out from Manchester University, Fotenix offers a crop analysis tool that helps producers identify plant characteristics earlier in the farming season, helping to significantly improve yield quality and shelf life.
An ambitious entrepreneur, Charles developed the technology driving Fotenix while studying his PhD – and we were delighted to sit down with him earlier this month to discuss his journey in more detail.
So Charles, what’s Fotenix?
Fotenix is an ability provider. We’re looking to translate the status of a farmer’s crop into a decision to help them reduce waste when they choose to apply pesticides.
Are you based in Manchester?
I’ve been based in Manchester since university actually. I spent a good period of time being a student here and then continued on, rolling my thesis doctorate into a spin-out.
I used to use all the space that I could, as and when we had access to some university facilities. But as that dropped away I was looking for somewhere that had flexibility but also fell in line with our values.
Being surrounded by plants and the glass house is a really good setting – both for meetings and mindset. And it’s more of a house here, so it’s quite nice to come in and see a lot of the same faces.
Has Use.Space worked for you?
Yeah Use.Space has been great, particularly for holding meetings to investors. It’s quite nice as a small company meeting in coffee shops or generic spaces, but they see so many. So to be able to bring them to a place where there’s a wall of plants and this unusual area, it really helps set the scene and get us off on a good foot.
How is it working alongside other residents?
I think it’s great. There’s a few of us – Eleanor, Mark and a few others – and it’s quite good to be able to speak to someone [working] in a completely different area or sector to find out which accountant they used, or what happened with this or how they raised investment – just to have those ‘water cooler’ conversations, as they call it.
Any tips for prospective entrepreneurs?
I have lots of friends who say they want to start a business and I always say that everyone has a business in them – but few people actually do it. I say just do it. I can’t say there’s no risk, but there is a lot of enjoyment.
If you’re interested in it, you’ll make it work and if it’s not for you then you won’t – it’s one of those things that you won’t find out until you do it. But it’s one of those nice things to have tried, whether it works or not.
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