Robert Anstee, “Creating companies”, 2 March 2011

Rob Anstee started his career working as an apprentice electrician in the family business, but after a number of years he decided to further progress by studying for a degree in engineering at the University of Bath. Following his graduation he was employed by the record company EMI, working as an engineer with The Beatles, developing their recording techniques.  It was during this time that he started to experiment with his colleagues capturing images underwater, using sound waves. After a colleague’s chance meeting with a doctor at a conference, this later developed to become ultrasound, as used by doctors all over the world today. Following his stint at EMI Rob begin his career with the Royal Navy as a weapons engineer, this was to last 20 years before he decided to start his own business.

Rob started two businesses, Requirements Engineering Limited and Quality Systems and Software Limited.  He did this, not only for the money, but also so he could become his own boss. Through utilisation of his existing contacts Rob was able to assemble a highly motivated team. He also used an innovative way of recruiting other members of staff – by asking them to voluntarily double work. He could then easily assess whether or not they were truly interested in the job.

Rob’s main offering through both businesses was a system called DOORS (Dynamic Object Oriented Requirements System). To fund the business he both re-mortgaged his home and borrowed a significant sum from the bank, but this enabled him to initially start selling his products in both the UK and the US. As DOORS became more successful both large and small businesses throughout Europe and many other countries worldwide started to adopt the system. The company was sold in the 1990s for a significant sum of money!

Rob’s Top Tips on starting a business:

  • Don’t do it
  • Be totally committed
  • 10% inspiration and 110% perspiration
  • Networking is key
  • Your business is not the widget
  • Its people, sales, marketing and finance.

Rob’s closing thoughts:

  • Was I glad I did it? Yes
  • Would I do it again? Yes
  • Did it change my life? Yes
  • Is more money a transition to happiness? No
  • But, money makes life’s little difficulties easier to handle.

Report by Samuel Barrett and Yuriy Alchenko, BSc Business Enterprise students