Biped Personal Biotech: Graham Rowe

Biped Personal Biotech: Graham Rowe


1. Have the guts

“We started Biped Personal Biotech in 2010, and our aim was to commercialise valuable biotechnology products and then distribute and market them in South Africa. To get our business to the next level, we needed capital. When we heard about The Big Break Show on TV, we decided to go for it,”says co-founder Graham Rowe.

They entered by sending an SMS along with thousands of other aspiring entrepreneurs. Next was a quick telephone interview in which Rowe’s business partner Richard Johnson gave a summary of the business, and then they were both invited to a face-to-face interview.

“We stood in a long queue with many other entrants, all of us smartly dressed, and all nervous,” Rowe recalls. “We had one minute to pitch our idea to the judges and everyone else. It went really well and we came away knowing that whatever happened, we had a good idea. We also got some interesting feedback from the judges.”

2. Work it

What set that initial pitch apart and got him onto the show, Rowe says, is the amount of time and effort they put into preparing it. “You have to know your business inside out and be prepared to assess it critically so that you can answer all the questions that funders have.”

In the final episode of the show, Rowe had to deliver a two-minute pitch, which he and Johnson worked on for about 40 hours. “It’s not just about how smart or talented you are. Hard work is what counted in our case.”

3. Be inventive

Another factor in their favour was the originality of their business concept. “To win this type of competition, you have to be able to demonstrate innovation and to develop an idea that is interesting and different.”

Their personal biotech concept was unique and the business plan solid enough to win the pair the R5 million prize money, which Rowe says has given them time and resources, as well as a huge amount of credibility.

4. Stop dragging your feet

His advice? “If you want to enter the competition, just do it. So many people remain vague about their ideas. If you’ve got something, put it there into the real world and it may just be a whopping success.”

Big Break 2013

Think you have what it takes? To stand a chance to win the R5 million investment into your business SMS your name, surname, South African identity number and your home province to 35383.

Monique Verduyn
Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.