Rising star: Marc Koska

Marc Koska spent 24 years working on his single-use syringe, which is designed to reduce the spread of disease in poor countries. His company Star Syringe is now profitable with revenues of £1.5 million

What was your background before Star Syringe?

I didn’t really have one. I left school with my A-levels and became a beach bum for a while. After I had the idea for the syringe, I spent some time doing research, during which time I did decorating, floor polishing; anything to keep money coming in.

When did you start your company?

1996. My motivation was half humanitarian and half wanting to see whether I could do it. I never set my sights on a Ferrari and I never wanted to be Joan of Arc; it was somewhere between the two.

How did you get investors?

We have 60 shareholders, who are friends and family. I’m the majority shareholder.

Why did it take so long to launch the product?

Syringes are not interesting commercially. They are low-margin, commoditised products. Our syringes cost about 10 per cent more – to put that into perspective, you could buy five of our syringes or six normal syringes for the price of a Coke.

How are the syringes manufactured?

There are 14 companies making the syringe under licence. We get a 1/4 cent royalty for every syringe sold. We’ve just signed up [medical technology group] Becton Dickinson, which will be in production in 12 months from now.

Has anyone tried to copy you?

No. It’s a small field and if anyone did it would be pretty obvious.

I think our product has won out because we didn’t set out to design the best syringe in the world – I designed it to be adequate and very easy to manufacture.

Marc Barber

Marc Barber

Marc was editor of GrowthBusiness from 2006 to 2010. He specialised in writing about entrepreneurs, private equity and venture capital, mid-market M&A, small caps and high-growth businesses.