Five minutes with Dr Eric Mayes
Endomag, led by CEO Eric Mayes, is seeking to reduce the barriers that prevent cancer sufferers from receiving the best standard of care in surgical oncology.
Eric tells us that he is playing to his strengths and helping lead the firm’s research and commercial efforts to develop new techniques for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
“I joined Endomag because I thought, ‘What am I contributing to society?"
My early career had been focused on consumer electronics. While that was fun, it wasn’t as edifying as I would have liked. Making a TV screen is not the same as improving someone’s life. That was the main motivator – using my skills in a way that had more meaning. When Endomag called, I thought it was the chance to make a difference.
“There’s value in making sure that knowledge is as widely shared as possible”
I try to put parts of my story back into the community. I learned a lot from the first company I ran, and there were a number of times when I wished I had been able to learn from a mentor and discuss what to do in a certain situation. That’s why I participate in entrepreneurial programmes and advisory boards for university tech transfer offices, particularly in the medical field.
“We need to acknowledge that failure can be valuable”
From an innovation standpoint, the biggest lesson I have learned is that it is okay to fail. As long as that failure involves learning, and you provide a space to explore things that you know might not work, then that is very positive. As an American, I think that the attitude to failure is one of the things that has made the US particularly strong in enterprise. I’ve noticed that in the UK, people are often afraid to fail so they don’t try things. The difference between investors here and in the the US is that if you have a failed enterprise, they will ask ‘what did you learn’ and still fund you for your next attempt.
“The UK has a much greater entrepreneurial spirit than 20 years ago”
The UK’s mind-set has changed dramatically since I moved here. I think people are becoming more and more attracted to the idea of solving a problem for the customer in a unique way. The fact that shows such as Dragon’s Den can attract viewers is proof that the UK has changed its mentality. They’ve highlighted to the general public the diversity of ideas that are out there.
“A vibrant economy is one that is diverse and active”
A vibrant economy is one that can weather changes in markets. If the UK were solely focused on financial services, it would have been much worse off in the last few years. So being vibrant means being diverse: diverse in terms of what organisations are doing, who’s involved and how they’re developing their businesses. The other aspect of vibrancy is energy… and that comes from SMEs and smaller traders. Those businesses have a small team of people who are truly committed to making their business successful because their lives absolutely depend on it. We need more of that energy in the UK economy.
“If we break the economy up into regional units, we forget the national”
I used to think that having a regional development agency was a benefit but the UK, from an American perspective, is really not that large. There shouldn’t be a reason why things are broken up how they are, and if people focus too regionally, then business doesn’t take advantage of everything that’s on offer. Each region in the UK is very strong… we need to ensure that they link up with each other and communicate around the country.
“Everyone is part of the story at Endomag”
We are very open about the journey that we’re on as a company. I make sure that the staff understand the challenges we have and that they understand the context of what is going on, not only in the context of how the product works but how we are doing with our investors. That’s a mind-set that has generated entrepreneurial flair within the organisation.
“Collaboration between business and the local community is hugely important”
A business way to describe it would be to point out that the most important thing as a business is to understand your customer. And what better way to understand them than by being involved in your local community? You can really find out what their challenges are and what their desires are.
“I think you can have a good business that reduces risk and grows, but also benefits society”
There are fundamental requirements for society to function, such as shelter, food, water, health and security. But people can make those more accessible and better quality. If we align business with those requirements, that is a great societal benefit. The problem is attracting business’s attention… if you could draw business eyes towards the fact that there are going to be significant opportunities in these areas of the environment, health and food then business will respond to find solutions to those problems.