Super Seven #13 Steve Kitson
In the thirteenth of our Super Seven Questions Series we profile our Chair, Steve Kitson. Steve has had a varied career spanning academia, government, multinationals and start-ups, and now helps early-stage tech companies build effective businesses.
1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I started out as a physicist – one of my first roles was working on quantum optics R&D. Back then the experiment filled a large Lab. Now KETS are miniaturising it to fit on a chip! That’s amazing…(but it does make me feel old!)
My career has taken me from academia to government Labs, and then to industry – I spent a large portion of my career at Hewlett Packard Labs. In 2013 I co-founded and led a tech company which I successfully exited in 2019. Having been through that roller coaster ride of building a business, I’m now helping others on the same journey.
2. What do you do in KETS?
I’m the chair of the board of directors. As directors, our job is to step back and look at how the company is doing, assess what the challenges are and decide on the best strategy to deliver success for our shareholders. My task is to make sure that we have a group of directors with different experiences and backgrounds and that we work together to find the best way forwards.
3. What’s the most enjoyable part of your job?
The best bit of my job is working with great people, helping them navigate seriously challenging problems. There’s always something new to learn – insights and solutions can come from surprising places.
4. What inspires you?
My driving ambition is to help people get technology out of the Lab and into the real world where it can help people solve challenging problems. As a scientist, I’ve enjoyed publishing papers and getting patents, but I get much more satisfaction from seeing cutting edge science end up in the real world. I love talking to end-users and finding out what their problems really are, and then seeing how we can help solve them.
5. What advice would you give someone wanting to get into startups?
The hard part about building a tech company is not the technology – the hard bit is people. Building a team that can work together, and deliver a solution that solves customer problems demands good people skills. Look for opportunities to build those skills early in your career.
Be curious, be open-minded, learn from others around you. Talk to potential customers about what their problems are – make sure that you listen as well as speak.
6. What do you do when you’re not at work?
I spend time with my wife and teenage son. We love the coast and spend as much time as possible near the sea. We can often be found on a beach in Dorset fossil hunting – our house is full of fossils!
We also love geocaching – it combines puzzle solving with getting outdoors – what’s not to love!
7. Where’s your favourite place?
I love Iceland. The landscape is amazing – everything is so vivid and sharp and the air just seems cleaner than anywhere else. If you haven’t been, I highly recommend visiting Iceland.
To get in touch with Steve, drop us an email at email@example.com