Elisabeth Clare talks about how founding her business, Cell Regeneration & MBST UK, changed her life around.
What is the background to your business?
MBST UK is a business servicing physiotherapy clinics around the UK. We are the sole, dedicated UK importer and license holders of MBST machines; a non-invasive therapy that restores and rejuvenates cells. The therapy is a technological innovation used to counteract the negative effects of degenerative disorders of the musculoskeletal system.
Based in Tinwell in Rutland, I founded Cell Regeneration & MBST UK with my brother, Charlie, in 2011. I have always wanted to be part of something that truly matters, but I simply wasn’t finding that meaning or purpose in my career. After an unfulfilling start in the media, I lost two people I cared deeply about in an accident that made me reflect on my life.
Our business technically started where all great ideas start, in the local pub. I bought Charlie a pint and asked him how he felt about opening our own MBST clinic and providing the technology to the UK, and before we knew it we were in the first stages of setting up our own company.
Our initial vision when opening our own clinic was to one day distribute the technology throughout the UK and become involved with the treatment of elite sports athletes and sports clubs. We are already on our way to achieving the next stage of our vision, having treated a few Olympians in the past few months alone.
Health is so important to me; whether it is mental, physical or emotional health, I wanted to make a difference in my life and help people who think that surgery or living with pain is their only option.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
My mother, Ann, a reputable Physiotherapist, came across MBST at an Osteoarthritis conference in London, in 2007. She immediately saw its potential and started to use the technology from a small practice she ran out of the family home. Reading the thank you letters from patients and seeing the results first-hand made me think this technology was a real game-changer and one that needed to be championed.
Then in 2008, after a freak accident where I fell from a stage and needed treatment, I witnessed the amazing results of MBST therapy first hand and I knew that this technology was special. Ever since then I have been deeply passionate about the results MBST delivers to patients all over the world.
Fast forward a few years, after completing my degree in media and marketing I worked for two different media companies over a four-year period, first in event organisation and promotion, and then in digital marketing for magazines and radio.
After re-evaluating my priorities, I realised that my life was going down a different path to one I had imagined, which is when I approached my brother about working together. My years in corporate enabled me to learn some vital business lessons and skills that have served me well with MBST UK and Cell Regeneration ltd.
What is your point of difference?
Our company is the sole UK importer of MBST machines. MBST therapy is a technological innovation used to counteract the negative effects of degenerative disorders of the musculoskeletal system. The principle of MBST technology is based on the use of magnetic resonance, electromagnetic fields, originally used for MRI diagnosis. Unlike MRI, MBST does not use magnetic resonance to generate images, but rather to biophysically stimulate the regenerative processes of specific cells or tissues at a molecular level.
It offers a comfortable, uncomplicated and sustainable therapy, and in several cases has eliminated the need for surgery. It’s also very user-friendly, easy to implement, non-invasive, and effective on patients of all ages. From the initial diagnosis through to aftercare, every patient is fully supported throughout the entire process by healthcare professionals and trained technicians, it is a completely stress-free treatment.
During therapy, there is little to do but lay back and let MBST work for you. Most patients bring a book, listen to music, or just take a nap during the hour of comfortable therapy.
How do you spread the word about your business?
Initially, spreading the word was limited to advertising in local newspapers and magazines, as at the time we only had one clinic. Here we found certain publications served us best, as they reached audiences who sought to stay active and healthy, bringing new clients through our door.
However, now that we have a network of clinics it has made things a little easier to spread the news far and wide. We work with a PR agency who help us with all our media relations. Physical and musculoskeletal health impacts everybody, so that gives us a broad canvas to paint with when trying to grow a presence in the media to reach as many people as possible.
We also have a strong social media presence, but perhaps more importantly, we’ve created a community amongst our clinics. Individuals who have received treatment often want to spread the good word themselves. People need to trust in the healthcare they receive, so our social media channels are important to us for reaching out to those who are thinking about having MBST treatment.
How has business been during the Covid-19 pandemic?
We used the opportunity of the enforced slow-down to manage changes within the business. Though our capacity was reduced, after two weeks we were able to treat patients again as the MBST devices don’t actually involve human contact.
Thankfully, we were able to stay open for most of the lockdowns and enjoyed a successful year. We have gone from strength to strength despite the pandemic, growing our turnover by 100% and achieving record numbers of device orders. The team has also spent the year developing new plans and solutions. This past year has made me far more reactive, and I have fallen into a comfortable rhythm, even when things don’t go as planned. We can always find a solution, and it’s about how we react to the unexpected and move forward that makes us successful.
I just like to remind myself that everything can be resolved and there is always another way around an issue. I really do believe business is going to seem a lot easier post-pandemic as we have become more resilient than ever and more reactive to the challenges and opportunities around us.
What’s the hardest thing about running a business?
For us, it has been about communication, especially in a COVID world, as all the clinics have been more separated, so to speak. We can’t catch up in person on a weekly basis anymore, and for me, meeting in person is very important. I feel that you get so much more out of a face to face meeting, people are just more present, more open, and want to connect more.
But moving away from the big ‘C’ word that has consumed our life for the past 18 months, Brexit has been far more problematic. Like many British businesses, we import, so we’ve had to contend with the additional charges, red tape, delays, and so on.
Have you received any financial support for your business?
Our initial start-up costs were covered by my brother and business partner, Charlie. Since then, we’ve been very fortunate in that we haven’t needed much in the way of assistance.
We took out a security bounce back loan for the Covid pandemic, but we were fortunate enough that we didn’t need to touch it so that went straight back to the bank.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced?
Challenges come in all shapes and sizes, Brexit and COVID have been two external issues that we couldn’t control but could react to. Running your own business there will always be a series of obstacles that you need to solve, but it is actually something I quite enjoy.
Besides this, the biggest challenge we had initially with bringing a new medical device into the UK market was gaining recognition, acceptance and even trust. However, we are at a great stage of growth because we are now sustainable. It has taken us ten years to reach this point, and whilst it still feels ‘early’ in the development I am excited about our progress so far, and where we are going.
What’s the best decision you’ve made so far?
Without a doubt, the best decision for us has been getting the license for MBST in the UK. That was probably the best move we could ever have made. The business is my baby and learning how to delegate and let go has been a huge step forward for myself. However above all, just starting this business journey in the first place, really has been brilliant.
I regret what it took to light the fire underneath me in order to make changes and ultimately start the business, I wish it hadn’t taken losing two people very close to me to push me into action.
What is the one thing that would make running your business a lot easier?
We are expanding as a business, so the need for additional team members is a must. Hiring more staff to fill important roles would allow me more time to focus on certain aspects like better communication, growth, making the entire experience, and cost, more pleasing to our clients.
What’s next for your business?
This year marks a decade since the company launched. In that time we have created a flagship physiotherapy clinic providing MBST in Rutland and expanded our community of MBST health professionals to include eleven additional facilities across England. 2021 also saw the introduction of two brand new clinics in Cheltenham and the prestigious Harley Street, with more in the pipeline.
Now restrictions have eased, I look forward to seeing my health professionals and visiting all of our new sites around the country. I hope and believe it will make us cherish human connection further. In business, I believe that anything is possible, the big goal for me is that I am aiming to have an MBST clinic in every county across England in the next five years.