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The Belmont Entrepreneur Series: CapeRay

Dr Kit Vaughan. Dr Kit Vaughan.

Belmont Asset Management will be running a series of interviews with successful South African entrepreneurs throughout 2014.  Launching the series is Dr Kit Vaughan, founder of Cape Ray Medical (Pty) Ltd.  

Kit, tell us about your business 

CapeRay designs, tests and sells innovative imaging systems for the early stage detection of breast cancer, particularly in dense breast tissue.  The original idea dates back to 2000 and a joint project between the University of Cape Town (where I was the Professor of Biomedical Engineering) and De Beers who were concerned about their diamonds being stolen by staff. De Beers built a novel, low-dose digital X-ray system to detect stolen diamonds and UCT worked alongside the company to adapt this whole-body imaging system for medical applications. Early on I thought the low-dose technology, which generated very high-resolution images, could be adapted to imaging the human breast.   

Tell us about the early days, the initial challenges you faced and any major milestones

Our first challenge was to seek venture capital funding to commercialise our technology. Our first milestone followed when the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) committed R15m in 2009. In December 2009, I came up with the idea of combining full-field digital mammography (FFDM) with automated breast ultrasound (ABUS.) CapeRay was founded in 2010 and over the last four years we have built and tested our system – Aceso.  Our next major milestone will be a clinical trial that will be conducted in conjunction with UCT and Groote Schuur Hospital during April 2014. 

What are your plans for your business over the next 5 to 10 years?

At the beginning of 2013, we raised another R5m for the business.  In addition, we also secured a grant (i.e. with no equity implications) for R3.8m from the Department of Trade and Industry. Over the next six months, we plan to raise US$10m (about R100m) to enable us to complete the commercialisation of our technology.  We are particularly seeking a strategic investor who will enable us to secure access to international markets for our products.  We plan to grow revenue to approximately US$120m by March 2019.

How do you invest your profits to secure your family’s future? 

CapeRay is currently pre-revenue and so is therefore not profitable.  I have a 20% equity stake in the business though, which I hope will contribute towards securing my family’s financial future.  On a separate note, I have accumulated a UCT retirement package, which has been invested with Belmont Asset Management for the last 3 ½ years.

What do you look for in a wealth manager?

Knowledge of both local and international investment instruments; a sound track record of investment success; a willingness to communicate regularly; honesty and integrity and an environment in which the wealth manager is incentivised to succeed.

What are your long-term investment goals?

Quite simply, my long-term investment goals are to grow and then maintain a capital base which yields enough to enable my wife and I to live comfortably, travel internationally on a regular basis and assist with the education of our grandchildren. 

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