Managing Director Dr Al Dossetter talks about 9 years in business and launching our e-newsletter…

Al Dossetter1

Where did nine years go?

I am not going to describe ‘how we built the company?’, but more of where did that last 9 years go and what did we learn? It seems like a blur looking back and the answer is quite simple, we have been really busy since the start so the time has flown. And speaking of flying, the one thing that surprised me the most was how much travelling I would do. This is one of the lessons we learnt on the way and put much effort into maximising the value of every trip. The pandemic has changed that and we will see if we go back to the old ways. I joked the other day that I had been on holiday for the last 9 years, but really, for the most part, it has been lots of fun. John Ridden, the CEO of Blueberry Therapeutics, always asks me ‘..but are you still having fun?’ – this I think is a yard stick** and another lesson learnt. If it is not fun then something is wrong.

Keeping it simple, easier said than done…

I recall been quite surprised 5 years had gone by, and soon we will be 10. But with lots of water under the bridge, it is easier to talk about how we were three guys that started a company with just laptops and mobile phones. Of course, it started with much more than that, we had 40 years of drug discovery experience in the industry and had spent considerable efforts developing chem-informatics software. And never the forget the power of our long list of contacts, which we had accumulated over the years. Back then the pitch to companies for our products and services was simpler, in fact it was all simpler; you could tell, there were fewer slides in the presentation deck. And here comes another lesson, even though, all the time, we said to ourselves ‘Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS)’, we still got bogged down in details. Each slide deck become bloated, trying to head off the technical questions before they were asked. Thankfully the deck looks more like it used to, albeit with a very large appendix.


Any company depends on its people and we are very pleased with our dedicated and hardworking team. Everyone hopes, and especially SMEs, on starting a recruitment campaign that a great person is found and they ‘hit the ground running’. It is far better to not recruit anyone than to recruit someone that ends up struggling to get the work done. This sounds obvious, but it is easy to be over run by the need for more pairs of hands.

Why did I call myself ‘managing director’?

I have cause to wonder why I decided to give myself the title of managing director? These days just about everyone leading a company is a Chief Executive Officer (CEO). I have met a good few, where the only employee of the company is the CEO. I always thought that CEOs fitted best with large corporations; should there be executives, plural, before you can have a chief? Hence, I think I thought Managing Director was more fitting for an SME sized company. Given the three founding members must agree before major changes can be made, (one of our best decisions – none of this majority 2 out of 3 crap), MD also appeared to be the right title. I guess, I claim modesty, but just recently we came up with ‘Step Change’ as the title of our regular e-newsletter.

Why Step Change..

The title of the e-newsletter comes from our motto ‘Creating a Step Change in Medicinal Chemistry’***. This is what we consider Matched Molecule Pair Analysis (MMPA) brings to the discipline. The unsupervised study of the chemical structure of compounds is a truth finding approach, that shows what really works, when it comes to optimising chemical series. However, what we found in the first half of our company life, is that we created a step change, by highlighting to many organisations, that they lacked a well curated database of their research compounds and data. In other words, it was not possible to perform large scale MMPA without one of these.  Pleasingly these large databases now exists and which also fitted with the explosion of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in life sciences. Best still, “matched pairs” has entered the lexicon of the med chem world. At conferences, speakers now regularly use the term when explaining the Structure Activity Relationships (SAR) and to show an effect is real across several matched pairs.

It should be fun…

So, we have learnt some good lessons over the years and come out strong for it. We hope you like our newsletter and find it useful and informative.  I would echo my friend John Ridden – if you are not having fun running your business then something is wrong, so go work out what it is. In this way the time will fly and you will prosper.

** – or Key Performance Indicator, if we were a large corporation.

*** – I guess this would be a ‘mission statement’, if we were a large corporation.