NAME: Tanya Ewing
BACKGROUND: Primary and secondary education
ACTION/SECTOR: Industry; Services; Science, Health, Research & Technology
ORGANIZATION: Tayeco Ltd t/a Ewgeco
My Background and Career
From leaving school I went straight into full time work, I did not go into further education. I worked as a dental nurse then worked for the Automobile Association, worked in the licensed trade then was a sales rep for a disposables company. Then my illness prevented myself from working for 7 years, I was registered disabled.
Won British Female Inventor of the Year 2008 for inventing Ewgeco.
Influence was the frustration I had not worked for over 7 years, my illness also prevented me from returning to the sporty, outdoor life I had before. I had started to find I had a brain I had never used before & was keen to explore what I could do with it. My illness had stabilised but I was not sure for how long so keen to work hard to get my invention as far on as I could just in case I had to stop or slow down. Ewgeco is at the forefront of the global energy display market, helping domestic & commercial customers understand their utility consumption & encouraging energy saving behavioural changes to cut their bills & carbon emissions. Our unique product range features an easy to understand award-winning, patented traffic-light display that brings consumption data out of the utility cupboard & into the sight of users, giving them control. Ewgeco systems provide real-time data as well as detailed historical information from the ‘MyEwgeco’ web portal. Ewgeco monitors are currently being rolled out in businesses, educational facilities & housing developments & associations, across the UK & overseas.
Economic: Difficult raising money due to recession. To raise the money required I - used all my savings, then sold a second property, then signed my family home over to the bank to raise funds then received angel funding & finally investment backed by Scottish Enterprise co-investment fund. Raised £3.8m to date. There was times when the company ran out of money & we had to take difficult decisions such as to make staff redundant or I had to cash in life policies to get quick money.
Had to lobby several organisations, utilities & the government to help create a market for live displays.
Family: I was pregnant at the time through IVF & had a serious illness, chronic Lyme disease. I lost one of my twins 3 months into inventing Ewgeco. After one week in hospital I think my husband thought I would get Ewgeco out of my head but instead I used the time to write my business plan.
Personal:There was no money in the company for the first 4 years to give myself a wage, I had child minding costs & expenses to pay for (business travel etc) so I had to work part time to bring in some money, also myself & family had to do without certain things at times due to lack of money or my work commitments. This put a strain on my family life, it also meant I did not see my young son as much as I would have liked.
Social: I was very lucky that even although I was a women with no experience in the industry I was going into, pregnant & had my illness which was visible at times & I never ever had any discriminations.
Opportunities and threats which had a strong influence on your career.
I had not worked for over 7 years, my illness also prevented me from returning to the sporty, outdoor life I had before. I had started to find I had a brain I had never used before and was keen to explore what I could do with it. My illness had stabilised but I was not sure for how long so keen to work hard to get my invention as far on as I could just in case I had to stop or slow down.
In 2006 I was one of only three individuals in the world who had submitted any patents in the live energy display area.
Huge market as all home and business in the world could benefit from savings by having live displays.
CO2 reduction targets could more easily be achieved by live displays.
I need to keep my home warm due to my illness. I then received a large home gas bill, I was annoyed at myself for letting it get this big. I said to myself if only I could have seen the energy live I would have been able to make a difference to this.
I often felt out of my comfort zone, often worried about how I could get through some of the challenges I faced but the more I faced up to these the more confident I became.
There were so many areas of starting the business that I did not have any prior knowledge such as intellectual property, finance and product developing. Using the internet gave me great knowledge about each of the sectors. I also worked with as many individuals and organisations that could support me, never afraid to ask for help... or ask basic questions, you have to start somewhere.
Hints & Tips
Lucky phrase - If you have a good idea, take it further otherwise you may always regret not knowing what might have been.
Advice to others
Pushing yourself is challenging but can be fun and very rewarding.
Be prepared to work very hard and accept you will have to sacrifice things that matter to you Take a “look in the mirror” see yourself as others see you.
Adapt to the different environments you find yourself in.
If working around men communicate to them in the way they do to you. Keep it simple, few words get straight to the point.
Be aware who you admit any weaknesses to. They may use these in the future as inefficiencies.
Remember your strengths are your assets, you can substitute your weaknesses.
You are never too good at what you do to not have a mentor.
Think clearly about the future before you start out, where you wish to take your idea or business and what needs to be done to get there. My invention required a large amount of investment so obtaining this I had to accept in selling shares I had over time to give up control of the company I founded. This meant the plans I had for my invention and the company became much more difficult to execute and over time I had less and less say in all aspect of the company. I became an employee, making any entrepreneurial ideas more difficult to introduce and maintain. I was unable to building a long term business, reputation, nurturing staff etc. I watched all my life my family and friends building up their own successful businesses, growing at a pace to allow them to keep control but at the same time the satisfaction they craved and the rewards this brought.
In saying all this I agree the shareholders deserve their return for the risk they took in myself and my invention and without them Ewgeco would not have become the success it is today.
Assets to be developed:
Confidence in front of people
Weaknesses to overcome:
Lack of internal confidence
Finding the time to fit everything in
Knowing when to delegate, or say no