Riding Unicorns

S3E14 - Gordon Sanghera, Co-Founder & CEO @ Oxford Nanopore

March 09, 2022 Riding Unicorns Season 3 Episode 14
Riding Unicorns
S3E14 - Gordon Sanghera, Co-Founder & CEO @ Oxford Nanopore
Show Notes Transcript

Gordon Sanghera is the co-founder and CEO of Oxford Nanopore. With the help of some of the brightest minds around the globe Gordon, who has over 15 years experience in the design and development of biosensor devices, and his team have been able to develop revolutionary sensing technology that performs precise analysis of single molecules. 

Riding Unicorns invited Gordon on the show to explain in simple terms what the company does, the real world benefits to its products and how despite the difficulty they were able to find a commercial model that worked. We also delve into the rock n roll culture Gordon has helped implement at Oxford Nanopore, why he hires people with a diverse skill set and what the future looks like for him and the company 

Make sure to like and subscribe to the Riding Unicorns podcast to never miss an episode. Also don't forget to give Riding Unicorns a follow on Twitter and LinkedIn to keep on top of the latest developments.

James: [00:00:00] welcome to riding unicorns. The podcast about growth startups. I'm James Pringle and I'm a technology entrepreneur and investor and the founder of Pringle capital. My co-host is Hector Mason. Hector as a partner at B2B investor episode one ventures. Our mission is to uncover what it takes to build a unicorn business.

For season three, we're speaking to some of the best founders, many from unicorn companies and asking them about their journey, operational insight, tips, and lessons they've learned along the way.

This week's episode is with Gordon's Sanghera co-founder and CEO, Oxford Nanopore. Oxford Nanopore is a biotech unicorn, and now publicly listed company. This developed the world's first and only Nanopore DNA and RNA sequencing platform. The technology is used in more than 100 countries to understand the biology of humans and [00:01:00] diseases.

Gordon is one of our favorite guests, a real character full of life and creativity. So we're sure you're going to enjoy this episode.

James: Hi, Gordon. Welcome to riding unicorns.

 We're asking all guests the same question for season three. What does entrepreneurship mean?

Gordon: first of all, thanks for having me. I don't really know because I don't really think of myself as an entrepreneur. When we started this 17 years ago, I didn't wake up and think, oh, okay, I'm going to go and become an entrepreneur.

I think you just fall into these things. I think for us, it's disruption breaking what's out there, doing things differently, challenging the norm, and, and creating a culture a business around that.

Hector: I think there's a lot of the guests that we have on writing. Unicorns are doing business. people understand and we haven't had many life sciences businesses on, the podcast. So it'd be great to, [00:02:00] hear in sort of layman's terms, what Oxford Nanopore does. maybe it's easiest to explain that with some examples of, where your technology has been used in the real.

Gordon: Sure. So I think, the good news is explaining genomics and, structures of viruses and mutations and testing for them and why mutations are important.

It's actually become a lot easier in the last two years is one of the very few upsides of being in the midst of a pandemic. So to take it back a level. So the source code of all living things. Is GTAC DNA and it's in every living thing. And over time, your DNA will change. It will mutate and it will become corrupted, to, to lifestyle due to diseases.

and it is the source code that underpins every plant, every animal, every human and across, but it is GTAC across [00:03:00] all of them. So if you produce a way. Of reading or sequencing a genome decoding those letters. And for that into context for you, saw as COVID 19 is 30,000 GTAC letters, bacterial pathogens, such as, eco like is three to 5 million.

Humans 3 billion and then something like a wheat genome is tens of billions. So it comes in many shapes and sizes and over the life cycle of the plant, the animal, the human, it changes due to external factors due to our own genetic makeup that we inherit. So an ability to rapidly read genome. It's fundamentally important to understand how we all work in the context of a [00:04:00] human being less than 1% variation between all of us yet the color of your skin, the color of your eyes, your hair, color, your propensity to be bald, your propensity to have long hair.

All these things are in that 1%. It's a lot, 1% to 3 billion, and it's all in. So not only decoding and reading it, but at a very precise and accurate level is critically important. Now, what we do that is very different to genomic sequencing today is, simplest way to think about it is today. The systems are enlarged laboratory.

They cost millions of dollars to purchase. They need large infrastructure, large it support, and very, very analogous to mainframe computing in the late seventies, early eighties. What we have done, and I know we're on a podcast, but I'm going to show [00:05:00] you. We have a handheld sequencer. It's the size of a MozBar in the Palm of my hand.

And this is a midnight, a mini ionic device. And it is something that anybody with a high school diploma, 16 year old, who can use a person. Can actually sequence anything. and we do that with an electronic method, which we can talk about science later, but the analogy being we are transitioning as we did with the information age, the DNA information age from mainframe.

To PCs, to handout and put into care. And as we know from the information age and the computer revolution, when you give individuals the ability to play around and access information, in this case, biological information, DNA information, you see this explosion of understanding, an application.[00:06:00]

Cutting across the whole of our lives from lifestyle to health, to environmental, to food security across all spectrums of life. you know, for us, that's what we do. We're bringing about affordable, accessible, easy to use ability to read genomes and decode them.

James: And good. And when we have guests on there often sort of have a reason for why they started the company. So what was your journey to starting Oxford Nanopore and How did you kind of spot this opportunity? Because it's fairly complex.

Gordon: it is very complex. If I can jump back because this is the second unicorn I've been involved in, which is, I feel very privileged to have been involved in the first one. So I did a PhD. In coupling biology to electronics and it was good, fun, and I had a great time. And then you kind of move on.

It's very unusual [00:07:00] to then find a job that directly relates to your PhD. But that was in Wales, in Cardiff. here in Oxford, uh, profit, done some work on bio electronics and produced a blood glucose. Credit card sized device that is critical in managing glucose levels in type one diabetics type one diabetics insulin dependent.

So if somebody, everybody knows somebody who has to inject insulin and regularly check their glucose. And I was very lucky to be involved in that company. And it developed a bio electronic device that could read glucose at home to clinical grade testing. And I did that. for seven years after which we were acquired for $876 million by Abbott, a big us company.

I worked in the states for five years, but I realized I'm not really very good with authority. and large company politics. [00:08:00] I seem to have this knack of shooting from the hip, and it doesn't really get you up the corporate ladder very fast. it was a 14 year journey where I learned a lot from small company manufacturing operator.

I mean, it was a 14 year real MBA. On-going from, you know, 30, 40 people when I joined. To several thousands as part of a big multinational. And, that was 16, 17 years ago. It was the beginning of my forties. I had my proper mid-life crisis and felt that I didn't want to get too close to the lure of final salary pension scheme.

And then you'll just You just can't leave. You know, you're, you're chained to that. so I thought if I don't get out now, I'm going to be in all sorts of. So I left and I remember my dad just said, what are you doing? I came from India with 20 pounds in my pocket and you've like, it's final salary pension.

you get [00:09:00] a new BMW? Every three years? Stop. But I just felt there was one massive adventure in me, another one having learned all this stuff. And I spent some time with Oxford looking at all the different opportunities and other places. that's a whole separate podcast by yourself. I can tell you that some weird and wonderful stuff.

but. I came across single molecules to caustic sensing. And before you ask, I had to go home and look that up in a dictionary as well, but it was bio electronics. And I could see from how the sort of academic experiment worked, that I could use the learnings from blood glucose and scaling that and bring them over.

So we immediately had, I had an idea of how we were going to manufacture. but this is a much bigger play doing one metabolite, like glucose in the complex matches like blood is hard, but starting to read source codes of living [00:10:00] organisms, some much bigger play. but that's what I wanted to do.

Take on a big challenge. Take on one big adventure. Another one.

Hector: definitely very interesting. So is it right? the sequence of wheat is more complex than the sequence of a human DNA. Is that what you said?

Gordon: Yeah, that's right.

Hector: Does that mean anything or are those quantities numbers? Just from our average

Gordon: I mean, it, it doesn't, it doesn't, so what, what happens in plant genomes is there are lots of repeats of the same thing. and I'm not a genomics expert, so like can't. You know, but 20 years ago, people thought the genes were important and there were large trenches of what people thought was redundant DNA.

But since the first human map was completed in 2003, it's become abundantly clear that pretty much the whole of the genome has some interplay with the environment. And so it is. But it's not the number of [00:11:00] DNA base is not proportionate to the complexity of the species that comes out of the other. And that's about mine.

That's about my knowledge of biology. I mean, I'm a platform developer, not a geneticist by any stretch of the imagination.

Hector: I was hoping you're going to tell us that we was this hugely, researched plant. but that's fine that it's not. so yeah, I mean, often scientists struggled to commercialize technologies and university spin-outs, you know, they often have in the sort of investment sector and I think probably through, You know, there's just been lots of cases where it's, where it's been the case that scientists struggled to commercialize their technology and that university spin-outs kind of never find commercial use cases.

can you talk a bit about those early days and sort of when you, when you started to think, okay, this could be a huge business and, and maybe also, whether you think of yourself as a commercial.

Gordon: I [00:12:00] didn't think of myself as a commercial person, but my previous job had been head of R and D. I'd done. Innovation in manufacturing and, but don't like spreadsheets. I never raised money and I'd never really written a business plan around the commercial model.

Until the IPO, we didn't do that. You know, we never, we never said here's a business plan. Here's a set of milestones that you can hang me by. We just didn't let that happen. But what I did though, was what the prof was doing at Oxford. I could see exactly how to make a low cost, simple to use plug and play platform.

That would simplify the electric chemical setup. They had, it was almost the same playbook as what happened with medicines and Oxford previously. And so that then underpins what we were going to do. And the idea was it's a generic single molecule sensing thing. So we could have [00:13:00] done drugs. We could have done other.

Relevant healthcare, small molecules. We can look to proteins. We can look to DNA, RNA, and we solved this chart with all these opportunities when we were up presenting to investors in 2005 to 2007. So it'd be myself, co-founders spoke Wilcox and the prof. And then at the end, we'd have this like big. Target, jackpot kind of thing that said thousand dollar genome.

And the other thing we did, we said this is going to take five to seven years, which can be, quite a turnoff, some types of VCs, but at somehow filtered in people who. Patient capital, but when it wasn't a thing, you know, everybody talks about patient capital now, and a few people sort of turned to the prof and just ignore spike.

And I and said, so Hagen, this DNA sequencing, is it possible? an academic will never say it's [00:14:00] never possible. Cause everything's possible. Um, and he said, yes, that's possible. you, a few of them said, well, I think we should go for that. And I'm sitting there thinking I can see it now.

Right. I can see why. CEOs of small companies like, primary league football managers I've been asked to do, can you guess, into Europe equivalent of right. And we're just newly promoted with a minimal budget was kind of my thought, but then we sort of built a story around, well, if we went for the thousand dollar genome, what would it look like?

And, you know, you sit here and say, here's what they did today. Mainly. And that's where that kind of narrative came from. And we went out shopping with that and, you know, big, deep breath people wanting to invest in it. And we, we were really, really honest, probably too honest. If I'd have had some MBA training, I probably would have been far less open about how long it was going to take and how much risk there was.

[00:15:00] But I think that honesty stood us in good stead. It really got us going. It was clear that we could disrupt sequencing. It was just a really, really technically difficult puzzle to solve all the things on the chart. But as ever the easier things were the least attractive from long-term revenue, it's always the case.

James: I'm good. And you, you mentioned the prophet. I mean, he sounds like a Marvel character. So, we do talk a lot with founders about building teams and then you obviously have. Amazing founding team with diverse experience and knowledge. So how do you think about building teams? And is there anything that you've kind of learned along the way that you think other founders should think of when they're surrounding themselves with experts in particular


Gordon: Yeah. I mean, the prof was great to help us to, you know, look at us right in suits. And then there's the prof sort [00:16:00] of, you know, with his great background in 25 years. But that was really early money. And actually the first time I met him, I said, Hagan, there's one thing that's very clear about here. Right?

Church and state. You are church. I am state. If I'm going to take this on. I will have complete power and control over what we do and how we do it. And he sort of sat there, stroked his beard. I said, it's So the only way it's going to work. And he said, okay. And then if you fast forward, two years later, I went off and didn't tell him because I had control.

I went to see all the leading academics in the world at that time, four or five. We've dubbed the godfathers of Nanopore sequencing today. And I did a deal with Harvard, Santa Cruz, various other institutions to corral all the IP. Because one thing I did learn from Madison's, if you make it work with Oxford, [00:17:00] then somebody elsewhere, who's doing, you know, there's always more than one academic group.

As a center of excellence, the, you know, the big chain J Roche Abbott, the diagnostic companies pick the other. And medicine's never really, really went on to dominate. So I learned that first time around. So we had, we corralled it and I wouldn't see how you get. And I said, by the way, we've partnered with all these people he said, but these are the people I have to compete with for grants.

And you can't tell them what we're doing here. And I said, unfortunately, we have to be together. can only win as a collective. And that was a pitch I gave them. and so what was important to go back to your question? In 2008, we were trying to hire bioinformatic specialists and we met Clyde brown who had been at Selectsa Selectsa was, a genomics company that was sold to Illumina for 600 million in 2006.[00:18:00]

Today its market cap is 60 billion. So that was a real important moment. That was where clove. And I sat down and I said, it's about time. We went all the way and made a company successful without selling it. let's, let's make a global tech company and he wanted to do that and I want it to do that.

And so when he came on board, he took it to a whole new level. He said, I am now into. Of all the development stuff and you better listen to me and you better go tell Hagan that as well, I'm in charge or I'm not coming. but that, that will that force. Yeah. And he has been the real driving force behind all the technological developments.

He shaped what the sequencer would look like. we just had a prof and an idea that sequencing could change the world, but the actual development came from. So the business is run by Clive a nine. The three of us, one of [00:19:00] us is not happy at any given moment. we make all the decisions as a collective and we're equal that respect.

And it's so important to have those two or three people. Trying to do it alone. It's just I don't think I could have done it. And the three of us, we're having a lot of fun. Like I say, one of us is upset and he give him a moment in time because the other two have ganged up, but it tends to bring the, the correct decision, right.

Because there's the innovation piece. Spike brings a commercial piece. And then I have to think about the investor in the corporate side.

Hector: Very interesting. So with a deep tech company, like your. is it a case of, they're kind of lots of ups and downs with, you know, the technology being developed. You don't have any commercial traction for years and years. I'm just wondering what that sort of journey has been like and where the COVID has been a big accelerant for, you know, suddenly you've got tons of sales of devices because as it's real pressing need for it, or have there been other sort of moments [00:20:00] like that, where suddenly there's been, a very commercial use case for


Gordon: I think that the commercial use case was there from the outset. I mean, even before we did a deal with the prof Agilent, which is a big life sciences company had done some work with Harvard, one of Oxford's, competitors. So the promise of Nanopore sequencing for DNA was out there and, and there was a lot of excitement in academia.

so the commercial use case has always been there. The question always was, can you actually jump cross the chasm and actually produce a device that could be used by anybody and the first chemistry we chose, Let's call it chemistry aid to keep it simple. After three years it had fallen apart on us we understood a fundamental flaw in that chemistry, but what we did and what we were doing in parallel to de-risk the [00:21:00] business was to build the plant. Because the technology picked up, you could do DNA sequencing, you can do small drugs, you could do proteins. It was antibodies. There was lots of things we could measure.

So unlike many other companies, and it's still to this day, people say, well, what are you going to do with it? We spend a lot of time saying we're going to build a city in the desert. They will come. Don't worry about applications. Let us build a new way of sensing an absolutely new method. It's the equivalent of a microscope.

Don't ask me what I'm going to do with a microscope because there's lots of things we'll do. So that was de-risking but it was difficult. Now what we did in order to get our academic counterparts on board. We also funded research with them. So you keep pushing it and pushing it, but eventually you start to realize you're, you're pushing against a [00:22:00] very big volt tool and you're not going to get in.

And, it's not going to be a Michael Kane moment, right? You're not going to blow the bloody deals off. So. Coincidentally in a three month period. in Oxford, they did some proof of concept on what we do today, which is straight whole strands of DNA going down the hole and our partners in California, professor mark and Dave DEMA.

They worked out a way of sliding the DNA through the hole in a controlled manner. And this was research. We were funding for sort of next generation, which we thought would be a few years down the line, always thinking about sustainable innovation. How do we disrupt ourselves? How would an academic do that?

So we were funding that research and it came together. I think it was 2009 and we pulled those two bits together and stuck them on the plan. And within 90 days we were sequencing. So there was this real 12 month period. And it really like was brought home to me [00:23:00] last Friday, I did a 10 year and 12 year between 10 and 12 year run of it.

None of us are people who have been there 10 or 12 years. Um, so I picked out a before and after all employee thing. And you look back on that, like, We believe that we could make this chemistry work, even though we were in a death rows, it's like, you know, that iconic scene when the patient's dead and you're pumping away thinking, come on, come on.

it was like the proverbial Dodo who was dead. And then you just fast forward 18 months. And we were talking about product specs and development timelines, and. sequence that genome sequence, this, so that, that was a real, a real rollercoaster for us.

Hector: It's really interesting. Cause I hadn't, I don't think I'd realize quite how, you were providing basically the infrastructure. And so I guess part of the, as you call it the platform. So it's interesting to me always thinking about,[00:24:00] founders who have built platforms.

and have built infrastructure upon which applications are built, whether that's in software, whether it's in gaming. You know, that the example I often think of is roadblocks, which is a gaming platform and people are now building billion dollar companies on top of roadblocks, like games within a game is kinda matter.

have you, have you seen any cool, unexpected examples of the sort of applications that have been built on that.

Gordon: yeah, that's exactly the strategy by the way. And this Clive's platform, let's just make sure that it's clearly understood. and I, it's a privilege for me to work for him. He's such a great visionary, but yeah, so they're on, uh, eight or nine spin-out companies, coupling cancer, a couple infectious disease who were starting to use the platform.

and, and we are very much. not afraid to say we use the apple system. our universe is closed because not only is this small handheld cheap, affordable, accessible,[00:25:00] the content it's just biology and color. We actually read the native DNA. Nobody else can do that. So it provides much richer content and therefore the biological insights, whether that's prediction of disease, monitoring, treatments, pathogens in food, all these different things that come up, companies are spinning out to do that.

And, for me, the most striking one, or the one I like most of them at the moment is somebody a few months ago, the Stripe. signatures of tumor brain tumor live during surgery. So they knew that they'd taken enough of the brain arm because you could see a drop. I mean, it there's just like, there are some amazing use cases that will come for the first time.

in genomics it's real time. It's at the point of care, and it's biology and color. [00:26:00] And those are really important, particularly in infectious disease and critical care in prediction and diagnosis of cancer. These are all things that are going to come up. Uh, Lightspeed. So there's going to be a lot coming and we're excited about that.

W our mentality is we are providing the innovation platform and the innovators are our customers.

James: It's absolutely outstanding. I mean, that example, I think will absolutely resonate with people listening and, if there was ever a company having impact, you know, I think you guys would be right up there. so slightly away from the product and the science Gordon, you know, Built massive company now. I mean, in in our world's kind of massive, you know, you listed, I think, close to 700 employees, maybe more.

so tell us a bit about the kind of operational inside. None of the poor. And, you know, if someone walked into Nanopore office, if you have one, what would we sort of notice about the culture and [00:27:00] how you operate and what sort of operational insight can you give other founders that want to build a really


Gordon: so the first thing you notice, if you walked into our atrium, is there are pictures of the kinks, the clash, Blondie, the Ramones, and various other disrupts and each and every one of those is a disruptor in the music industry. And it's to remind everybody that we do not follow them. and in fact, because this is so different in terms of biology, the only people who could really validate what we do, but biologists.

So we started our own conferences away from traditional life science conferences. We have one in, in London and one in New York in December, and the one in London, we called it London calling it was just a bit of fun to start. Uh, 9:00 AM on Tuesday morning. And in spring in London, I said, right, turn neon, pop to [00:28:00] 11 and play London calling by the clash.

People need to understand this is a very different science companies who anything they've ever seen. And so that became a thing. So everything we do, like the kinks use knitting needles to smash their amps up a bit, to give that, you know, that characteristics. Get to us. So it became a theme and it's carried on and you know, we've got a little book.

So these are young people who don't know who these dinosaurs are, right. Can read about it. And the seven years at other were really helpful. And do you just, a silo walls were phenomenal. And then you went off to the divisional walls where you're fighting a pharma division and the diagnostic division and the blood glucose division.

And I created a very flat organization. We have kept sales and marketing apart, and we create tension. [00:29:00] Instead of, you know, somebody being in telesales sales and marketing, we have sales separate to marketing. We really divide all these things up and, and that all stems from my. Of a football and Dutch football in particular.

So the Dutch pioneered, total football in the seventies and eighties readiness Michels, and they said any player on the pitch complaint, any on the asphalt position. So a fallback could become a winger and, and, and so on. and that's how we try to make this company work people can seamlessly move from innovative.

Right through to supply chain, if that's what they want to do, if that's where their calling is. and across, and we spend a lot of time being very flat as an organization. and because nobody had ever made Nanopore, nobody had had a manufactured Nepal. We brought our own people in and we trained them up [00:30:00] and they've grown with the business.

And, When we interview people, you know, we spend a lot of time thinking, well, it's going to take three or four months to break that mentality. Isn't it? You know, we, we want industry savvy people. We want people who've been there saying they got the t-shirt, but they have to be broken into the Nanopore way.

Hector: it's interesting. Cause it sounds, it sounds like an approach that could lead to you hiring reams of generalists. is that kind of what you look for? Do you look for people to have quite diverse


Gordon: yeah, we all are open to that. but I think what's interesting in the last five years, since we've been commercial, you can't just, be innovative. and do that alone. You do need the traditionalist as well. You need to sustainable innovation. The people who are using our products today are not the sort of cool, funky early adopters.

And they don't mind if your customer service, isn't the greatest thing in the world, right. They'll kind of figure it out and they'll [00:31:00] download drivers. And you know, now we have a much mature customer base. But then that creates a new problem. And there's a brilliant video from kata. I'll send it to you guys it talks about how companies lose their early innovation and die because you bring in, you know, the people who know how to do the hierarchy and they implement processes and practices.

but they don't like these networkers, they hate This are saying these people need to be taken under control and then they kill it and then they can't work out. Why, you know, the pipe has gone dry. Why is the weld dry? So then they bring it more processes and more process constant explains it prominently.

And then you sink and then you lose your vision. one of the things I still show quite regularly, all employee meetings, we've done. And there's a famous quote with the CEO of Nakia, with his head in his hands. And it says we didn't do anything wrong,[00:32:00] They, you know, they create the first mobile phone and they they rested on their laurels and we never let that happen. Never

Hector: Yeah. So, in software, I mean, we've, seen and I'm sure there's a lot of software to what you guys are doing. but we've certainly seen. Last couple of years in particular, just such a tight labor market for good developers. has that been, that you've seen with, scientists is it incredibly hard to attract, the world's best scientists? And it sounds like a lot of what you're, what you've already talked about. You know, having a cool culture, having a flat culture, making it a place it's different interest in the work, you know, that's all part of it is into it, but have you sort of struggled to find talent and how do you go.

Gordon: Yeah. I mean, we do hire quite a lot of AI machine learning guys, and that's just gone insane recently trying to get them. so we have the pain of software, what we have found, particularly in this region now with the vaccine manufacturer and, everything [00:33:00] that's going on around the Oxford ecosystem.

You know, one level graduate scientists have finally been recognized in life sciences and they're getting decent salaries on another level. My wage bill goes up, so they didn't benefit me because I didn't get that kind of salary when I was back there. So we are seeing that, but what's interesting is right.

You know, a lot of the younger generation are really keen on what are we doing for the greater good, what are we doing to save the planet? I can show them six or seven Marine ecology. Expeditions can talk about human health. We can talk about, pathogens, implants.

so we, we have a very seductive offering. and also like, what we do, single molecule sensing is pretty cool. We have over 45. Different nationalities from around the world. You know, it's good that the new visa systems coming in, because we attract top talent from Rhonda [00:34:00] world. And, you know, Brian Nanopore is good.

Goodnight, you know, London calling and our New York meeting or the MD of life science company. I mean, I would just get my tackle in here. I'm probably a frustrated wannabe rockstar, right? It's my one moment. Once a year to go on stage,

Hector: That was coming. I could tell, have you got a guitar behind you in your audio room that.

Gordon: I cannot play music at all and I never learned.

James: So good. And the rockstar, um, The company. So what was that like? And is there anything that you would do differently or yeah. What was that kind of experience like taking a company public.

Gordon: you know, a lot is written about what it's like to IPO. I think it was a made a lot easier because it was a zoom, like. So we just sat in [00:35:00] our main meeting room, which became the war room and, um, and all the meetings from there.

So we weren't on the road trip and, insane flying east coast, west coast. but it's a huge amount of work. and, I don't really remember much about it. It's a bit like doing your final. The day after, would you think, right. I've done that now. I never need to do that ever again. What is really good about it is the awareness of the company obviously would go up, but even with our customers, I didn't appreciate how much people would say or listen to the competitors.

Right. Multi-billion dollar company, they're all made up. It's vapor where it's, We often, you know, used to be called thoroughness of sequencing. Yeah. It was a lot of bad things written and said about it, but somehow if you're a public company and you're holding your own, even the customer side of thing.

Oh, you [00:36:00] ought to take a look at this. we waited 16 years before doing an IPO because we wanted a solid foundation, five years of revenues or B we're in the foothills. Right. But you know, really at a point where it's going to be Rocky, but it's not going to be, you know, the, the nose dive, we will be able to pull ourselves out of it when it happens.

It won't be one where we, you know, explode and crush and burn.

Hector: Which takes us to the trillion dollar question, which is, I can't remember the name of the previous company, but I think it went. 600 million and now it's worth 60 billion. do you think there's a $400 billion opportunity in Oxford Nanopore? And what does the next 10, 20 years look like for you?

Gordon: so what's interesting. Yeah. So Lumina's were 60 billion now, right. but they're only addressing as always. genomics research markets, life science research tools it's referred to, if you can really cross the cousin into applied markets, the [00:37:00] opportunities, you know, and these are published reports from the likes of JPM run into 50, a hundred billion.

Those are potential markets, you know, something as simple as food, Adulteration, you can check instead of throwing food away with a sell by date. there's a, there's a future where we'll have rapid ability to just check the food safe or not. I know we're all been told to sniff your milk before you drink it, but imagine a sensor in there that could do that for you.

but even the healthcare thing's going to be immense understanding our genomes more and more. We'll have. With prevention of disease, we will change the needle from reactive care to proactive. And then that doesn't even touch on my style. I mean, already elite sports people have tailored diets that have tailored, fitness regimes, their genetics dictate, what kind of training they do?

Is it [00:38:00] weights? Is it light? Is it running? All of that is going to come. and it is, you know, we are on the dorms. Of the sort of genomic revolution and, you know, a lot is talked about the internet of things. This platform with its real time nature and simplicity and form factors will unravel unlock the internet of living things.

in, in 10, 20 years time, there'll be a network of surveillance tools looking at infectious diseases. Continue. All the time. So when the next thing comes along, it's caught and it's prevented. the potential is enormous. There are published reports saying it could be tens to hundreds of billions dollar market.

How much of that we can do. We're going to find out. I mean, you know, the next phase is all about enabling. All these people to go out and really [00:39:00] change the world.

James: Well, I think that's a brilliant note to kind of move on to the last bit of the show, which is, if you were to have dinner with three people in the world, who would that be? I mean, I think Hector and I could probably have a guess at them. I think that's sort of probably Croix, Bowie and Alexander Fleming would sort of be a good trilogy probably for you, but who would you.

Gordon: Do you not like as close? Definitely. I saw I worked for you on cruise because I had to pick one footballing icon. It was crew chief, or it was Brian Cluff. So I picked Croix. then, uh, then I'd pick Paul Waller because I kind of, you know, I was a very angry young man and in my career, my life, even my mellow stage now, right.

Kind of reflected in the, in the journey he's had any broken. He broke them up when they were really successful, because he didn't want to be, you know, a tribute band [00:40:00] today and he's done amazing things. And that, was inspirational to me is when I was 42 and I'd had yet leaving up medicines, you know, I had nightmares about leaving it.

Wasn't like, I just hated it. I still love what I to have built this thing. So that that was kind of, so him and then I'd go in Mohammed, Ali got be, cause I just think that would create some interesting dynamics to elite sportsman and their social poet, but all phenomenally successful and all, not afraid to break the rules.

And I think it'd be great, Diane.

James: Yeah, absolutely. It does a great line up. Well, Gordon, thank you so much. I feel like we've really just scratched the surface, but, it's been really amazing to you'll ride a unicorn story, learn a lot more about Nanopore and the amazing things you guys are doing to have a huge, huge impact on the world.

and also there's clearly, you know, big [00:41:00] character, you know, leading the ship, which is great. So thank you so much for coming on. It's been


Gordon: thanks. It's been been good. Fun. I was a bit nervous, but it's been good financially.

Hector: lovely. Thanks a lot for your time

Gordon: Thanks. Bye.

James: That's it for this week. I hope you were able to take away many learnings from this episode. Thankfully, we have plenty, more amazing guests and insightful conversations coming your way. Every week, every Wednesday. Be sure to subscribe to riding unicorns on apple, Spotify, or wherever else you get your podcasts. Thank you again for listening. If you're interested in supporting the show.

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