Jigna is the Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) of the revolutionary new technology: Micro-Fresh and the current holder of LeicestershireLive Rising Star for Leicester and Rutland 2019 . This is an “invisible anti-bacterial treatment” that keeps everyday items such as bedding, footwear and a variety of home furnishings “fresher for longer.” Having garnered a growing string of awards, including ‘Ones To Watch’ in Sunday Times Fast Track Growing Companies 100 (2019), Goldman Sachs’ Business Growth Award (2015) and a double page feature in The Times newspaper in 2018 , the innovative bio-tech company, has established itself as the ultimate lifestyle brand. Contrary to popular belief, unwanted bodily odour does not occur because of a person’s sweat alone. As Jigna elaborated: “it is via bacteria that decompose the sweat causing the strong, unpleasant smell”. Micro-Fresh’ tried and tested technology then prevents from that bacteria ever forming. Indeed, the small elements that constitute life are often the most significant!
A solid ‘ingredient’ brand similar to Lycra or Intel, Micro-Fresh® client base includes John Lewis, Kickers, Tesco and even the trendy German brand, Deichmann to modify bedding and bathroom ranges and footwear to a clinically safe and long-term standard.
Jigna states: “Our key moment was launching the John Lewis, Micro-Fresh® Baby & Nursery bedding range”. As well as facilitating a never before experienced cleanliness, Jigna emphasised how Micro-Fresh introduces a whole new and more secure way of life: “We have built added value into school footwear, the shoes will last longer, not smelling so they do not need to be thrown away”. “Additionally, our reliable Micro-Fresh technology means your gym clothes, towels and trainers will be odour-free, perfect for that post workout well deserved drink!”
You can also have a fresher, cleaner night’s sleep with the discovery in duvet covers, pillows and the sheets!”
One of Jigna’s proudest achievements was winning the deal with the top airline, Emirates. Since January this year, pillows and blankets in first and business class will be with Micro-Fresh® technology so passengers can arrive as fresh as when they first began the journey.”
Jigna added: “Micro-Fresh® also helps to reduce your carbon footprint and preserve the environment. You would not need to wash anything containing Micro-Fresh® at a high temperature as there is no bacteria to kill! Cold washes are more than adequate as the product’s durability means it doesn’t ‘wash out’.
Jigna interestingly explained the very natural, evolving journey of Micro-Fresh itself. “The technology first started as an answer to the dependable transport of furniture overseas. We had created solid anti-bacterial technology that could counteract the mould that forms through the moisture carried in transit with exported products, such as couches and mattresses from warmer countries who have manufactured them.” In short, as the demand for filling different existing markets became known, Jigna and her team saw that their technology was capable of doing more. “In fact, we have tested our creation as preventative against a whole host of pathogens along our entrepreneurial path, bit by bit: salmonella, E-coli, and all those microscopic monsters. Recently, we have also developed a scented Micro-Fresh series that speaks to both the playful and serious sides of living! Research showed that our customers associated ‘Freshness’ with a perfume so we wanted to explore that recreational idea with the product too: now we have a bubble-gum and strawberry-scented ‘Back to School’ footwear range which will be released this summer. For adults, we have developed lavender-scented bedding which aids a good night’s sleep.”
In these Covid-19 times, the company’s bio-technology has officially proven anti-viral. “Again, we did not know this was going to be the case until the environment changed! People are more mindful of the importance of hygiene so we are in the right place at the right time.” Micro-Fresh® do not simply demonstrate novel entrepreneurship, but also the underlying unfailing formula for a successful life: adapting quickly and creatively over trying to establish a dominant, stubborn stance. This certainly extends to Jigna’s distinctive professional approach and her progression to take Micro-Fresh® to where they are today.
“Over planning can limit you. It is so important to be open-minded as well as focussed. Co-operation with partners and belief in your product/service/brand is key”.
The Emirates contract proves there are no short cuts and was the result of a long path of gestation to the final launch in January this year. My time in Dubai working with the Emirates team was tough but fun and emphasized all I love about my role. To see the product launched gave me an internal buzz as I knew I’d carried this from cradle to fruition aided by the Micro-Fresh team. At our official launch, this January, I was able to surprise the CEO with the big news. It was a landmark moment: that decision to be bold was as much an achievement as making a mutually beneficial corporate connection. People talk about smashing the glass ceiling. My attitude is: why is it even there in the first place?” Finally, rising with the ranks of her trailblazing tech, Jigna embodies the epitome of modern leadership. Confident yet collaborative, she demonstrates how one’s business must be a positive reflection of the self. “Focus on building the confidence in you– that organically makes your product convincing too.”
Tell us a bit about your personal journey with Micro-Fresh?
I have a Bio-medical background. I loved it, but couldn’t really see myself in a white lab coat for 8 hours a day. I have a very creative and interpersonal side to me too. So, combining my two passions, I ended up in entrepreneurial science at Micro-Fresh. Nowadays, you can do that. Just because you enjoy chemistry and biology does not mean you have to go down a boring path!
However, I didn’t plan to become CCO. I actually started part-time, getting my experience in different departments – from marketing to getting my hands dirty in the research labs – before reaching a Director’s position. I really enjoyed what I was doing and simply continued to rise in the company. Over the seven years at the company, I’d grown it by 45% year-on-year: I went from a junior position to becoming a shareholder and leader.
You have gone through the relentless pitching process. What tips can you give to rising entrepreneurs?
Firstly: be yourself. Project your own personality and build relationships naturally. Do not try too hard to impersonate others. Branson has his own way of doing business – that is not necessarily going to be your approach. Secondly, do not just dip your toes in, throw yourself completely into the idea. Thirdly, make mistakes quickly so you learn faster.
Finally, what is your future vision for Micro-Fresh?
To one day have it be so popular that it is a verb: “have you micro-freshed your shoes?” The hoover is actually a brand name which became a household term over time. We’re also hoping to expand to more places all over the globe. Next year, we are due to open an office in Japan.
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