"If you ask me for one piece of advice to anyone setting up a business, I would say join an organisation like SETsquared. As a technical specialist I needed guidance on how to grow a business and SETsquared has provided this."
Dr Mike Bartley, founder and CEO, TVS
- Start date: 2008
- Website: www.testandverification.com
- Market sector: electronics
- Location: Bristol
- Investment raised: None (self-funded)
- Number of employees: 80 (expected to reach 100 by January 2014)
- Company turnover: £2.5 million
- office space
- business review panels
TVS provides specialist test and verification services and products for the semiconductor and embedded systems industries.
What was the vision for the company and what problem were you aiming to solve?
"There was a gap in the market for specialist hardware verification and software testing, to help companies in the semiconductor and embedded systems industries. I founded TVS to meet this need."
- March 2008: Founded
- October 2011: opened office in Hanua, Germany
- October 2011: opened office in Chennai, India
- 2012: opened office in Bangalore, India
- April 2012: opened office in Grenoble, France
- March 2013: opened office in Stockholm, Sweden
- November 2013: started exporting to Korea and signed partnership in China
"I joined SETsquared from the start – it was recommended by a friend, and I felt that SETsquared would be able to help my business quicker than I could do on my own."
"TVS has grown gradually, starting with the UK and then winning our first overseas customer in 2011. There's been no external investment, and we've successfully self-funded the business."
"SETsquared has provided a lot of help on the legal side of the business and in sales and marketing, especially from Nick Sturge and Greville Commins, the entrepreneur in residence. Early on, I used to go and see Greville frequently for advice."
"The mentoring provided by SETsquared is on a drop-in basis, which means I can access it in a very flexible way. I can pop in for a half-hour meeting to get advice on a particular decision or input into a particular strategy, or thoughts on how best to approach a particular company."
"Running a start-up is a series of ups and downs that need to be overcome, and we've got a few things wrong along the way – but overall, it's been a steady progression to grow our business."
"SETsquared has helped with our exporting by putting me in touch with the right people at UKTI. There have also been UKTI surgeries at SETsquared's offices."
"UKTI has provided advice and the funding for me to travel to new regions, including trips to Japan and India – which helped me to open a subsidiary in India."
"Looking at other government support, the most helpful aspect has been the R&D tax credits. These have allowed us to offset some of our product development costs against tax."
"To help with the high-level strategy of the business, I've taken part in four business review panels with SETsquared, where they looked at my progress and provided feedback and guidance. I've also attended several training courses, such as one on elevator pitching."
"Overall, SETsquared has given TVS great advice and help, which has focussed on sales and marketing: from how to market the company, to prospecting for leads, and how to understand the sales pipeline."
"We plan to expand, including growing into new export markets. We're investigating opportunities in the US, China and Israel, but we have to wait until the time is right."