Kingston University nursing graduate Neomi Banett won Entrepreneur of Excellence at National Diversity Awards in September this year.
A life-saving product called Neo-Slip was created in 2012 by Banett, a Registered Nurse, whilst she was in the final year of her nursing degree. The first Neo-Slip was sold in 2013.
“I wasn’t expecting to win [Entrepreneur of Excellence Award] at all because the other nominees were so amazing,” said Banett. “I was pleasantly surprised to win and I am grateful that my work is being acknowledged in the wider community.”
The young developer came up with the idea while working on a risky assessment essay, exploring the problems of hospital Anti-Thrombosis stockings and the patient experience of their application.
During the essay research Banett found that around 25,000 people diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis (DVT) die in the UK each year, with most of the deaths caused by the difficulty of putting on the stockings.
Therefore, Banett came up with an idea of revolutionary new product, which makes the process of applying the stockings comfortable and convenient. The idea was pitched to the Enterprise programme, which provides extensive support and advice for graduate start-up companies.
“I won the Bright Ideas award and worked closely with the Enterprise team,” Banett remembered. “I was also allocated a mentor.”
As a prize for the Bright Ideas competition, Banett received £1000 cash award for herself to use, however she decided to invest the money into the business and made up first Neo-slips.
Although Banett admits that she had never run a business before, she was quick to learn the business skills whilst on the job.
She said: “Enterprise team, who have been and continue to be extremely supportive, helped me to understand the basics of running a business.”
Nowadays, the original design of Neo-Slip has been improved and amended. Also, it is now used in 34 hospitals and is available on NHS prescription.
“It felt surreal to begin with,” said Banett. “We received amazing feedback from nurses and patients; however, as the orders increased I had to focus on the business and continue to increase my customer base.”
Based in the new incubator space at Kingston Hill, Banett and her team are working on a nursing safety product, which she is hoping to launch early next year.
A team is currently developing their own brand of travel socks for flights and long haul travel to reduce the number of travel acquired DVT.
“Our socks should be available from next year 2017,” said Banett. “We also plan for Neo-slip to be included on an NHS framework as well as exploring international markets with the support of UKTI.”
Banett admits that combining the start of the business, final year of university and rising three children was challenging and she has faced many obstacles, but forward planning, good time management, a supportive network and great friends have helped her to stay strong and build the business.
“My family have been great and I include them in the building of the business,” she said.
At the moment Banett continues the work on the clinical audit conducted in a large teaching hospital, which is promised to be published later this year.
“I received sponsorship from the Florence Nightingale foundation, which awards scholarships to advance the study of nursing and to promote excellence in practice,” she said.
Also, Banett is not forgetting the “great” KU Enterprise team, who run a business boot camp that she found extremely useful at the beginning of her successful business journey, and recommends current students to get involved and attend their workshops.
“This is a great opportunity to learn from business experts, network with other entrepreneurs and meet with other students that could potentially help and support your project,” said Banett. “It’s also important to remain focused, be patient and never give up on your idea.”