In an insight into the journey behind ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’, Laura Haldane from SciLeads
In this exclusive Q&A blog, we’re diving into the inspiring journey behind Laura Haldane, who was recently titled ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ at the Women in Tech Awards and is a Co-Founder to one of the fastest-growing Tech Companies in Northern Ireland!
💡 VANRATH are currently recruiting for multiple Software Engineers to join the SciLeads team – get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more!
Can you share some insights into your journey as an entrepreneur? What inspired you to co-found SciLeads and what were some of the challenges you faced along the way?
“My idol was Richard Branson, and at 10 years-old, I just knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur like him someday. While my friends played with dolls, I loved my toy Filofax. I have set up multiple ventures throughout my life to varying degrees of success, one was with SciLeads Co-Founder, James Campbell. James was my friend from school, and we started ‘Dr. PC’ which was a computer repair company.
“It was actually a pretty cool pocket money earner and we still get the odd phone call today! Then when I was 21, I was working for Andor Technology and met Daniel McRitchie who shared my entrepreneurial spirit and we quickly realised we had complementary skill sets that would be ideal for setting up a business. One day Daniel saw a gap in the market for life science lead generation software and so I introduced him to James to build his idea and when it was built, I started selling it!”
Winning the Entrepreneur of the Year award highlights your exceptional leadership and contributions to SciLeads. What key qualities or strategies have helped you build and grow a successful business in the tech industry?
“Genuinely a very successful personal strategy was mentioning my Game of Thrones extra work on my LinkedIn profile! So many people wanted to meet me at conferences to talk about the show and it has been a great icebreaker for reaching potential customers.
“Getting a great team together that supports and complements each other has been key for sustaining growth and there are so many amazing people who have made SciLeads what it is today.
“Also, we are passionate about creating a working environment that is fun and gets the best out of people through a good work-life balance. This has helped us attract and retain great talent as we are 100% remote with flexible working and people love being able to work around their family and other commitments and chose their most productive time of day.”
How do you see SciLeads evolving in the future and what exciting initiatives or developments can we expect from the company?
“We just launched our new Pharma product which was two years in the making and will expand our reach into new markets as well as add additional value to our existing customers. We aim to continue to grow significantly over the next few years and double our current team of 60 employees. We’ve been in the top 2 of Deloitte’s fastest-growing Tech Companies in NI for the last two years, and we aim to be up there this year too. And given the structure we have in place now, we’re in the perfect position to grow quickly.”
Can you explain more about the company's culture and work-life balance? How do you prioritise creating a flexible and inclusive environment for your employees?
“When SciLeads began we wanted to create our ideal working environment which wasn’t 9-5 in an office. Flexible working was essential because Daniel is an early bird and James and I are night owls and we realised very quickly that people work best at different times of the day - it actually works great as Daniel now lives in Canada and so his morning is our evening.
“Our 100% remote work policy drives performance by allowing our employees autonomy over their day so they can fit work around their commitments, hobbies and dreams; whether that’s the school run, going to the gym when it’s quieter, or even jetting off and living in another country for a few months without being held back by set office hours and location. We also give everyone a home office set-up allowance so they can create their ideal environment and choose what equipment they want.”
💡 Interested in joining the SciLeads team? VANRATH are currently recruiting for multiple Software Engineers – get in touch with email@example.com to find out more!
What advice do you have for aspiring women entrepreneurs looking to make their mark in the tech sector?
“Create your dream team who will complement your skill set and who you actually enjoy working with! Definitely take part in groups like Women In Business as talking to people who are going through the same trials and tribulations is invaluable. Feel free to contact me through LinkedIn to discuss your ups and downs, sales or even Game of Thrones! Also, get your LinkedIn profile updated - find your ‘icebreaker’ and add it to your headline so people have something intriguing to talk to you about. After all, people still buy from people. And try not to take rejection too personally - having a great team helps with that!”
Looking ahead, what are your future plans and aspirations for SciLeads?
“SciLeads is currently in a stage of rapid growth, especially since the launch of our BioPharma product in April which is allowing us to expand into new international markets and hire more SciLeaders. Thankfully in-person tradeshows have returned which is still an important part of our own lead generation. Luckily, I have a great team who love traveling so I don’t need to do as much as I did! Our primary market is North America and we are growing our partnership with the trade and investment departments in each American state which can subsidise the cost of our platform for their local biotech companies.”
SciLeads has a global customer base, serving companies ranging from Fortune 500 to startups. How do you ensure that your solutions meet the diverse needs of clients worldwide?
“We work very closely with our customers and foster a great relationship with them. We take their feedback onboard and literally update and enhance our software to their specific needs. In fact, our latest BioPharma product came directly from customer requests as they wanted us to recreate our original product for their market. The extensive data in our platform caters to all needs from startups conducting market research, right up to big pharma companies selling new scientific products.”
How do you stay ahead of industry trends and market demands to ensure that SciLeads remains at the forefront of lead generation solutions?
“I still do a lot of the sales calls myself to keep ahead of industry trends and ensure I’m not getting out of touch with our customer’s needs. I also organise conferences and awards as part of SAMPS (Sales and Marketing Professionals in Science), a global non-profit I’m a board member of. In June I hosted a conference in Scotland that was all around using predictive AI like ChatGPT and Midjourney for sales and marketing in the Life Sciences.”
Looking back at your journey with SciLeads, what are some of the key milestones or achievements that you are most proud of?
“It’s quite cheesy, but setting up a successful business with my best friends is my ultimate achievement. Along the way, I was delighted when we got our first 100 customers and when I reached over 15,000 followers on LinkedIn. I was really proud that we pivoted so well during the pandemic and when we were named Northern Ireland’s fastest-growing company by Deloitte in 2021 (we came second last year which was also amazing!). I also had my daughter that year so that was a massive milestone too. This year I was ecstatic to launch our new product and equally thrilled to win the Entrepreneur of the Year award!”
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