Tim Brownstone Founders Letter 20/21

Tim Brownstone KYMIRA Ltd Founder and CEO

Letter from the CEO 

I step back and write a short retrospect on the year that has just finished every year at KYMIRA. As I am sure is true for many, I can honestly say that we have never had a year like the one that has just finished! The 20/21 financial year (FY) has forced rapid evolution, it has forced greater consideration of key workplace dynamics and it has seen the company hit both it’s least stable and best ever financial positions in a single year. I write this now, knowing where we have come from to get to the place we are now. Proud and incredibly grateful for the team around me, for the clients, suppliers and investors that stuck with us, and very excited for the 12 months ahead. 

Scaling a business has its challenges at the best of times. Doing it in a pandemic adds a whole new layer of complexity. Being at the helm of a business the last 12 months has been stressful whether your business has been thriving or you’ve been fighting for survival. In KYMIRA’s case, we have: 

  • Grown revenue by 2.2x 
  • Grown our team by 2.2x 
  • Grown our IP portfolio to 6 patents with several entering PCT stage this last FY 

The story behind the statistics 

I want this to be an open and honest account of KYMIRA’s experience, and will not pretend that the 20/21 FY was a bed of roses. Entering the new financial year in May 2020, we had just expanded our team, our mainstay markets of professional and collegiate sports was indefinitely on hold (meaning orders for our products were too) and we were meant to be raising a Series A investment round. While it would not be easy, the board and I committed to some key goals: 

  • We would retain as many of our staff as possible, particularly as the latest hires had relocated to the UK to work for us.  
  • If sales were going to suffer while the world found its feet again, we would double down on our R&D to build intangible value in the company and continue our mission to save 1,000,000 lives by 2030. 
  • We would keep our warehouse operational to service at very least our medical clients who would need us even more now that they were in a lockdowns, unable to access their usual therapies.  

The above is all very noble, and I would do it again. However, for those that can read between the lines, the above looks an awful lot like increasing spending, while revenue is falling. It wasn’t quite the case, we paused, sacrificed and reduced every “non-essential” expenditure that we could, diverting almost everything into supporting our R&D efforts. Almost all our commercial team went onto furlough, and I was back operating our day-to-day e-comm businesses alongside a greatly reduced team comprising of our marketing manager, Sarah, and Technical Sales Lead, Kieran; picking, packing and shipping our orders with the help of two of our engineers who lived locally and were still using the office. It felt a bit like KYMIRA’s earlier days again! 

A Thank You 

Three things enabled us to navigate Q1 of our 20/21 FY. One of which was my own financial support, the second was the support of our team. New and old, the team rallied around to either volunteer for furlough, to offer more flexible working hours, and to help pick up the shortfall where furloughed staff would have been performing certain tasks in normal conditions. Finally, I am exceedingly grateful for the provisions that the UK government put in place to support small businesses. For us, like many, this proved a key part of allowing us to retain our staff.  

Things are on the up 

After a tough Q1, forecasts held true and things started to pick up. While the global sporting markets were still on hiatus, we managed to find opportunities to bring forward the commercialisation of our new technologies as well as continuing to grow our B2C business. We signed a flagship distribution agreement with our partners iGo Sport, who distribute our golf range, and slowly we were able to start bringing staff off furlough and back to work. 

Starting to soar  

Things were on the up in Q2 and they kept on climbing thereafter. Thanks to the determination of myself, our Marketing and Sales managers, Wwe saw record sales in Q3, the team came off furlough and we started to take on more staff to boot. It was a fantastic feeling to be growing as we were. This did not come without issue though. The lag between growth in business (and the work that comes with it) and expanding the team can often stretch teams, and we were no exception to that. I’m the first to admit that a few balls were dropped, but the team at KYMIRA are fantastic. We encourage top down accountability and everyone to ask for change if they think it needed.  

 

Refining and Optimising  

As the team grew and we settled into the new dynamics, a new life was breathed into the company. With our growing revenue streams, fast paced technological progress and a partial return to being able to work together in person, the last 4 months of our 20/21 FY really saw productivity starting to reach new heights along side our results. At the time of writing, we have carried this momentum into the new FY, an investment round and are moving forward – full steam ahead. 

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