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Entrepreneurial Postdocs of Cambridge


Andrew Marsden -  Immaterial

EPOC caught up with Andrew the CEO and Co-founder of Immaterial four years after winning the Start-up competition.



Andrew started his entrepreneurial journey while pursuing a degree in chemistry at the University of Cambridge by joining the university i-Teams initiative, where a team of students together with an academic supervisor investigate the best market approach for commercialising an innovation. Initially the “Immaterial” project wasn’t his first choice but it soon became clear to him that there was more to it and he realised the huge potential.


"It came natural to found the company"


Why did you decide to apply for the CE/EPOC business plan competition?

“The CE/EPOC business plan competition was one of the earlier competitions we did. Back then we didn’t have any spare money so £15k was quite a lot. It took us over the line to hire our first employee. This was very important and really helped to improve the company.

The association with the University of Cambridge was a plus and definitely helped us in the future.“


What did you think of the mentoring you received as part of the competition?

“A good aspect of the competition was that you had to put a business plan on paper. This was a very useful process.”


What did you do after you won the competition?

"I probably just went rowing the next morning, unfortunately!"


What advice would you give someone who is about to start of their entrepreneurial journey?

“Nothing can prepare you for starting a company - you don’t need to know everything from the start e.g. accounting or how to manage a team. You just learn as you go along”


Do you think you need a particular skill set to be successful as an entrepreneur?

“I think you don’t need a specific skill set to start-up a company. You just need motivation, drive, discipline and the awareness of what your limits are and then you need to bring the right people on board to fill those gaps.”


What were or are the biggest challenges when starting your own business?

“Since you start a company either by yourself or with a small team it can get quite lonely at times – Co-working spaces are a great opportunity to meet like minded people facing similar challenges.

Another challenge is that you are committed to the company for many years until it fails or you succeed and expand to the point where you can find a successor. It leaves very little room for being flexible with moving to a new city or country, which is something a lot of young people, me included, want to do before they settle down. All of a sudden you are not just responsible for your own future. In any case I think it is important to have an exit strategy.”


What have you planned for your future?

“I would like to become a serial entrepreneur. Immaterial has great technology with great potential to be important on a century-wide scale through the introduction of a new class of materials, which is very exciting to be involved in as a first company.  After this, I want my next company to be something that is significant on the grander scale of human history. Not too sure what I intend that to be yet, but fields like AI and space travel are particularly interesting to me at the moment as things that will have an impact on our future for millennia. Definitely Elon Musk is pursuing goals that I value, particularly with SpaceX, and this is something I look up to and would be happy spending a lifetime aspiring to work on similarly ambitious goals."


About the company:

Immaterial manufactures super-adsorbent nanomaterials (metal-organic framework materials) which can reduce the cost of separating, storing, and transporting gas.

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