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Flashback to 2004: Catching up with Avi Lasarow

Thu, 29 November 2012

In 2004, mid Essex-based Avi Lasarow of DNA Bioscience won the county’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and the region's Innovation Award.
We caught up with him to find out more about his entrepreneurial journey…

What can you remember about your involvement with Shell LiveWIRE?
Involvement as an Entrant:
Casting my mind was my first serious business, the thought of winning the Shell LiveWIRE competition would be a testament to my business plan, enhanced visibility for the company, enhanced visibility for my profile as an entrepreneur, all of which I hoped would contribute to finding strategic partners and investors. I was thrown in front of a panel of judges, who observed me and scrutinised my plan, I knew I could win, and I did! The judges were bankers, successful business owners and role-models. If they believed in my business, I thought I must be onto something. The day itself we also had to exhibit our business, and work in teams which were all graded and observed ,unlike other business competitions. I believe that the Shell LiveWIRE Competition has the most prestige... even today I have my winner’s trophy in my office which I look at with pride and joy.

Involvement as a Judge:
It was really exciting getting asked to become a judge in later years on the basis that my business had started to develop some real successes. I remember feeling privileged and excited to see the high standard of the competition knowing that I was once one of them! One of the winners was Jamie Murray Wells in 2005, who has gone on to become a"glasses-super-star" and has moved into advising Kate Middleton with her own fashion business etc., demonstrating the calibre of the competition! It was certainly a different experience as a judge and I would relish the opportunity to do it again and contribute to the success of the awards.

How have things changed for you since you won your Shell LiveWIRE award?
The Shell LiveWIRE Award really did give me the confidence to truly believe in my idea. After the disposal of the company DNA Bioscience, I started Trimega Laboratories which grew past a £5M revenue in 6 years. I recently shifted my focus on a more diplomatic role, but realised that the Shell LiveWIRE judges were correct -"Entrepreneurs are born" - and quickly invested in a company called Cut & Bake in South Africa, which has 10,000s of pre-made cooking dough stocked in major retail chains. In addition to this I am still working on health projects related to Tele-Dermatology, DNA Databasing and a test that looks at new born babies to determine if they have FaS... oh and also organic vegetable farming! It seems the list continues to grow.

I am currently an Hon Ambassador for South Africa to the UK, which I take great pride in. On a regular basis I help South Africa to raise the flag, increase bi-lateral trade between countries and deliver on the "business" objectives of the mission in the UK.

How have you had to adapt as an entrepreneur over the years?
It has happened naturally. I would not think about working for a company that is not my own unless it was essential to survival. An Entrepreneur is about spirit, knowing that your ideas can become reality with the right people and the right energy around you. I never had to adapt, it’s just a bloodline!

What has been the biggest obstacle you have overcome in business?
The biggest obstacle is failure. Often people want to hear about the glory but never the "story" -- the first company failed, the new company had obstacles on failed campaigns, or strategies, but I realise that each one is a step to the next success. If you keep pushing you will definitely overcome all obstacles.

What are your top 3 tips for a young entrepreneur who is about to set up in business?
1. Don’t underestimate a good legal framework between yourself and your partners.
2. Always get a good lawyer if you get into a legal fight, many times the high profile brand and name costs more but sends a firm psychological message.
3. Often government policy opens up business opportunity. Listen to what the government says and hold their hand to deliver business solutions.

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