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Rebecca Pick, the founder and CEO of Pick Protection, set the company up after a girl was attacked just outside of her flat in Glasgow No one came as the girl called for help.
What does your company do?
Pick Protection provides lone worker solutions to help companies keep their employees safewhilst working alone.
What is your background?
I set Pick Protection up in my third year of university. I studied business at Strathclyde and graduated in 2015.
If you started the company, what was the aha moment that led to the company founding?
Sadly a girl was attacked just outside of my flat in Glasgow, she called for help but nobody came. It was awful to hear about, it made me think we should all carry something on us all the time that we know if we activate it will provide a police response – that was the initial idea and then I did some market research to see what was already on the market and I didn’t think there was anything I would trust to protect myself or my flatmates. Then I started to research the technical feasibility of my idea and also research into if this was something other people thought was necessary too.
Where did you get assistance when you started?
I first got assistance from the Strathclyde Entrepreneurial Network who provided access to a business advisor and they gave me free office space. I also received support from SIE (Scottish Institute for Enterprise) and Converge Challenge and other start-up organisations. I do think that Scotland is a fantastic place to start a business.
Give us a brief history of the growth of the company
I won a few competitions when I first started (SIE – Young Innovators Challenge, Converge (kickstart runner-up 2015, Main Converge 3rd place (£15k) first ever undergraduate business to be a winner, Santander Universities, best undergraduate business in the UK 2015). From this prize money I got prototypes made up and then pitched to Gabriel investment syndicate where I raised a seed round of investment and received a mentor, Les Gaw.
As we learnt more about the market we realised that every 9 minutes in the UK an employee is attacked whilst working alone and so much more needed to be done to protect employees across the UK. There was a real gap in the market for lone worker protection. We then raised a larger round of investment to grow the team and fully build our product range. Pick Protection has received over £1m funding which has allowed us to develop the next generation of lone worker protection.
Have you taken any external funding? If so from who and when?
Scottish Edge (competition)
SE funding 2015-2018
Gabriel – 2015 (as above)
Equity Gap, SIB, Univerisity of Strathclyde, Unipart (£744k in Sept 2017)
What’s the difference between when you started and now in your marketplace?
Well, we now concentrate on the corporate market and even over the last couple of years we’ve seen the market grow massively. There are now over 8 million lone workers across the UK, with the increase in agile working, flexible working, working from home, more people than ever are working alone even just for parts of their day and their employers have a duty of care to make sure these employees are safe. We’ve also seen a huge rise in the number of fines and convictions in this area for companies not taking the appropriate steps to reduce the risks their employees face.
What is your target market – Who is buying your product / service?
Our lone worker protection solutions are for any company that has employees that work alone, this may be when attending meetings, visiting clients, working from home, travelling etc. Every organisation has a duty of care to protect their lone working employees. We work a lot with local authorities and housing associations as they have particularly high numbers of lone and at risk employees.
What are your goals for your business?
Pick Protection’s aim is to protect employees across the UK. We know so much more needs to be done to protect employees. In 2017/2018 shockingly 144 workers died in the UK (British Safety Council). This number rose from last year and we want to ensure we do everything we can to make sure employees are as protected as possible at work. I would love to see Pick Protection become the number 1 provider of lone worker solutions across the UK.
What are your biggest current challenges?
I think growing the team is a challenge, finding the right people that fit with the company culture is really important.
What has been the biggest challenge so far?
The biggest challenge so far has been entering the lone worker protection market as a new player, coming in with no brand and nobody knowing who we were was challenging and to get people to trust us with protecting their employees but this is something we’ve really worked on. We built up our market knowledge to be seen as an industry expert and being a start-up that has raised over £1m to develop the next generation of lone worker protection we’ve got a different approach to the more established brands in the market.
What do you do outside work?
Outside of work I go the gym, play basketball every week and of course enjoy a few drinks with friends at the weekend!
What do you know now that you wished you had known earlier?
I wish I had known that focus is key, in the early days I thought we could serve multiple markets with different requirements but I’ve now learnt to the more focused you are on one area of the market the better you can serve that market, exactly meeting their requirements. If I had focused our approach sooner we would have progressed at a faster pace.
What’s the secret to good leadership?
I’ll let you know when I find out!
Where do you see the company in five years?
I see Pick Protection being the most widely used employee protection provider across Europe.
How can the Scottish startup/entrepreneur landscape be improved to help more businesses start up and grow?
I think the Scottish entrepreneurial ecosystem is fantastic. I received so much help and support that I am so grateful for. To be improved I think currently start-ups have challenges of attracting the right talent, particularly in tech roles, and if you’re not a technical person its hard to navigate through what your other options may look like so this is an area I think could be improved.
Rebecca Pick is founder and CEO of Pick Protection.
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