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Byron Dixon OBE – Founder and CEO, Micro-Fresh®
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Byron Dixon OBE – Founder and CEO, Micro-Fresh®

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SPECIAL FEATURE FOR THE ‘MIDLANDS ENTREPRENEURS SHAPING THE FUTURE’ CAMPAIGN IN PARTNERSHIP WITH LLOYDS BANK

In a world where bacteria and contaminants pose significant threats to our health and well-being, one individual has emerged as a beacon of innovation and change. Byron Dixon OBE, the visionary CEO and founder of Micro-Fresh®, has dedicated nearly two decades to creating cleaner, safer products with his innovative technology. Born with an innate curiosity and an unyielding desire to make a difference, Dixon’s path to success was anything but conventional.

A spark ignited within Byron when he encountered the smell emanating from his football teammates’ socks. Considering the effectiveness of his treatment in halting fungal growth, he wondered if it could also inhibit the proliferation of bacteria responsible for the unpleasant odour associated with sweat. Taking a single sock and treating it with his formula while leaving the other untreated, Byron embarked on an experiment. Following the game, a eureka moment occurred – the treated sock remained devoid of any foul odour. This breakthrough propelled Byron onto a path of discovery, ultimately leading to the development of the widely recognised and utilsed Micro-Fresh® technology.

Byron’s pivotal moment arrive amidst a crisis, as an anti-mould chemical led to severe burns in thousands of individuals who had purchased new leather sofas. During this time, Byrons innovative and safe leather treatment gained sudden and significant demand.

“Running my own business is really about one word, “Freedom” – I had worked for AstraZeneca and found the control of the company structure not to my liking. I then had a completely different and hugely empowering experience working for ECCO shoes in Denmark, and this culture of trust and ownership appealed to me. I combined my hunger for personal freedom, being able to decide my future success, with the great culture I had experienced at ECCO and founded Micro-Fresh®.”

After enrolment in the prestigious Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses scheme, Micro-Fresh® experienced a remarkable period of accelerated expansion. In 2014, the company’s growth trajectory soared as it secured a groundbreaking partnership with John Lewis, a renowned retailer. This pivotal agreement marked the first major deal for Micro-Fresh®, as its innovative formula was seamlessly integrated into John Lewis bedding. Building on this success, the company continued to make significant strides, expanding its presence in the market by incorporating its technology into John Lewis nursery products in 2015 and their bathmats in 2017. The collaborative efforts between MicroFresh® and John Lewis exemplify the transformative impact the company has had within the retail industry, cementing its position as a leader in revolutionising products for enhanced hygiene and freshness.

With an impressive tenure of 17 years in the business world, Byron has established a global presence for his company. Micro-Fresh®, under Byron’s leadership, has successfully expanded its operations to international offices in prominent locations such as Dubai, China, Pakistan, India, South Korea, Vietnam, and Bangladesh. Through strategic collaborations, Micro-Fresh® has fostered partnerships with renowned brands like NEXT, John Lewis Partners, La Coste, and Clarks, solidifying its position as a trusted and valued ally. Byron’s unwavering commitment to excellence and his ability to cultivate fruitful relationships have propelled Micro-Fresh® to the forefront of the market, ensuring its continued success in delivering innovative solutions worldwide.

The vision over the next five years is to be on everything, everywhere. The business is in a fantastic place with new offices across the middle east, expansion plans in South America and a range of new opportunities for them. They have a new NED team helping Byron shape the next exponential growth phase for the business, so it’s exciting times for Micro-Fresh®. On his trip to NYC last year, the Micro-Fresh® brand was up on the NASDAQ tower in Times Square – this shows both how far they’ve come and where they’re heading next. The brand’s rapid growth and potential were highlighted as it earned the title of “One to Watch” on the renowned Sunday Times Fast Track 100 list.

Tell us about your childhood/ teenage years and any experiences shaping your entrepreneurial journey.

I had plenty of challenges as a teenager and used to enjoy getting into all sorts at school. I grew up in social housing in Leicester, just near where our offices are based today. I know it would have been easy for me to go in a different direction from school, but one day I was in a lesson, and the teacher was giving out the results of a chemistry test; the last name read out (for the highest score) was mine – neither the teacher nor I could believe it – but it was the start of a fantastic journey into chemistry which has been the basis for so much of my career and ongoing success.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced running your own business?

The buck has always stopped with me – and still does! I can remember, in the early days having the opportunity to pitch to what is now an incredible company, but I just didn’t have the cash to put fuel in the car! There are some challenging times as a business founder. I’m hugely grateful to the brilliant network of other founders and business owners who have championed and encouraged me, especially on difficult days.

What have been the highlights of your entrepreneurial journey so far?

The highlights for me are always simple

Sales! I’m as hungry today as I have ever been; getting the Micro-Fresh® brand into John Lewis, NEXT, and many other partner businesses gives me a massive sense of pride.

If you could start all over again, what would you do differently?

Nothing – I’ve loved every minute of it! Even if there are a few decisions I might change, I don’t see any value in looking back, the future is in front of us and ours to grab and make the best of.

I’m hugely grateful for the range of brilliant awards we’ve received, which include getting onto the Goldman Sachs 10,000 small businesses program and winning EY Entrepreneur of the Year. Still, I think becoming an OBE and receiving my award from the King (who was the Prince of Wales at the time), has to be a stand-out moment for me and the business.

The Importance of Mentoring

Yes, I’m fortunate to have a collection of incredible business mentors that I can go to for advice and support. A strong network is fundamental for success as an entrepreneur, and not being afraid to ask questions you don’t know the answer to, whatever they are.

Advice for Startups

Believe in yourself and keep going. You’ve got a great idea; initially, the only champion will be you. Be ready for the doubters, and remember to remind yourself that most doubts are likely to come from those who have never been as brave as you to find something out of nothing. I’ve only ever received encouragement and strong advice from people in the same position as me, so be really mindful about the company you keep and who you let influence you.

If there is one piece of advice you could give to someone who wants to scale their business beyond six figures, what would it be?

When planning early on, have your big goal in mind so that when you reach this level, your systems and processes are ready. There’s nothing worse than going for a growth goal, succeeding and then the company struggling to deliver the business. I’ve always had one eye on the future; this includes simple things like software platform stability – Are you confident in your supply chain and fallbacks? When the growth & challenges come, does your business have the resilience it needs?

 

My Favourite holiday destination

Jamaica! But I do love a beer by the pool in Portugal.

 

Black-Owned Business I Love

Wi-Q Technologies – I highly rate the CEO Patience Tucker; she’s built a great business.

 

Favourite Thing to Do for Self-Care

Play my bass guitar! I regularly work out, giving me the headspace I need to decompress.

 

What are you currently reading/listening to or watching?

Measure what matters (John Doerr), Filth (Irvine Welsh) – anything by Marcus Miller and Casisdead – separately watching Goodfellas & Till – Listening to Black Pumas and Khruangbin (For my beginner bass player inspiration!)

Website www.microfresh.com

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