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Eight Questions for the 'Final 8' - Isabel Lizardi

Thu, 03 November 2011

In the run up to the 2011 Shell LiveWIRE Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, we will be profiling each of the finalists to give you some background on their entrepreneurial journey so far. Meet Isabel Lizardi of Bare Conductive.
Can you give us some background on how your business got started?
Bare Conductive began as a thesis project at the Royal College of Art in 2009. After being presented at the RCA graduation show in February 2009, the project gained world-wide coverage both on web and print media in publications such as Gizmodo and Wired. In the following months, interest and requests for the material became so overwhelming that the inventors decided to pursue the project commercially. Since then, interest in this innovative technology has grown consistently, and the company successfully won a Technology Strategy Board Digital Disruptive Solutions Grant in 2010. Inspiration for the business has come from the breadth of interest expressed for Bare Conductive’s products in areas ranging from educational, performance, sensing, packaging, and medical applications. The enthusiasm and excitement that this material continues to inspire in both individuals and commercial players is what drives us to deliver the next phase of development, turning our ideas into readily available commercial products.
 
What has been the biggest barrier you have overcome to get this far?
The most difficult challenge that the company has had to overcome in the two years’ since its founding has been scaling up and streamlining its production process. Transforming a one-off manufacturing process into a large-scale system that works seamlessly has meant identifying suppliers and manufacturers, and ensuring they all work in conjunction to ensure that Bare Conductive provides its clients with the best product and service possible. Bare Conductive has put a great deal of thought into the companies it partners with and the suppliers it engages with to establish a business that is not only financially successful, but also socially responsible in every possible area of the business. This holistic approach has not been easy, however, having successfully implemented this process in just over two years has been an incredible achievement for the founders.
 
How has Shell LiveWIRE helped you on your journey?
Shell LiveWIRE has been invaluable to Bare Conductive in the exposure and legitimacy that its endorsement lends the company. By providing a platform and voice through which Bare Conductive can present its innovative products to the world, Shell LiveWIRE has helped us broaden our business through key contacts and potential customers. The exposure that this well-respected institution provides, as well as its financial support, have helped advance Bare Conductive in its path to success.
 
What has been the best bit of advice you’ve received on your entrepreneurial journey?
One of the most useful pieces of advice we received as a company was to ensure that we built a team of people who feel personally invested and motivated in the company and its goals. A company is bound for success when all members of the team, from its founders to its investors, have a sense of ownership and personal fulfillment throughout the venture’s growth.
 
Which entrepreneurs do you look to for inspiration?
We love the work of Jane Ni Dhulchaointigh at Sugru. Jane not only created an amazing material, but she’s also leveraged the web as a great tool for marketing and developing a community around her product. I think the way she’s created interest for her product by encouraging customers to share their ideas and projects online is really great.
 
What are you most looking forward to at Shell LiveWIRE LIVE! 2011?
I’m looking forward to meeting the other contestants and getting an opportunity to talk with the members of the judging panel and other guests. This event is a great platform to meet innovators and entrepreneurs from different sectors and learn about their ventures and past experiences. 
 
What will it mean to you and the business if you win?
Winning the Shell LiveWIRE award would be an incredible honor as well as a great validation of the work and effort that has been invested into Bare Conductive since its founding two years ago. Getting recognition from such a well-respected institution is wonderful for the business, but also incredibly rewarding on a personal level.
 
What do you think can be done to help entrepreneurs in the future?
I believe entrepreneurs could benefit from having a hub or network where they can share and interact with other young start-ups. In my experience at Bare Conductive I have found that talking with founders of other small companies has helped highlight common hurdles and identify similarities across fields. I believe a network for young entrepreneurs to share and discuss problems and seek feedback would be a great way to help small start-ups develop their businesses further.

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