People start new businesses for many reasons, although the fear of indolence isn’t a factor that is quoted very often. But for Christopher Quinton, 60, that is exactly what drove him to launch Quincom in 2007. Following a successful international career in air freight, Quinton moved into software development in 1989, developing Halarose into a major supplier of election management software to local authorities throughout England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. When he sold the controlling interest in that company in 2007, as he says, “indolence beckoned”.
The philosophy behind Quincom is to identify people with good ideas, and to back them with capital together with management and sales expertise. Quincom does not invest in other businesses but creates a new “division” within the company for each project that it backs together with a separate website. The projects are very diverse, ranging from magnetic fridge frames for photographs through to software that helps local authorities to improve communication with staff and customers. There is also a not-for-profit division that sources hand-made products from around the world, particularly Africa, where Quinton spent many years, and markets them in the UK.
Perhaps the most advanced of all of the projects in the Quincom stable is the LightSleeper® device ( lightsleeper.co.uk ), designed to help insomniacs get to sleep at night. The idea behind the device is that, by following a moving light, projected on to the ceiling above the bed, the user mimics the process of reading but without stimulating the mind. A simple idea but one that has proved very successful in recent trials: 78 per cent of users report improvements in getting to sleep and in the quality of sleep. In fact, so confident is Quincom about this device that it offers the product on a 14-day trial with a full money-back guarantee if the customer is not satisfied.
“I have to admit”, says Quinton, “that we started Quincom to have fun. However, things have really taken off such that there’s no chance of becoming indolent any time soon.” It’s not unusual for individuals who have made substantial capital gains from previous business activities to invest some of those funds in new ventures. Such people are usually known as business angels. But what makes Quinton a true business angel is his willingness to invest his own time and expertise alongside his own cash. Thank goodness for his fear of indolence.
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