Ashley Uys Medical Diagnostech

Ashley Uys is not your average businessman. As a 30-year-old BSc Honours Biotechnology graduate you might expect to find him quietly working somewhere in a lab.

But this Capetonian instead finds himself on a list of 30 African entrepreneurs under 30 who were recognised by Forbes magazine for the dramatic impact they are making across the continent.

It was during his studies that Uys was first exposed to the possibilities for innovation and business in his field of expertise. And in just four years he has grown three companies by simply sticking to his passion and recognising that entrepreneurial prowess lies in knowing when not to reinvent the wheel.

Uys cannot lay claim to the invention of the home pregnancy test. These pharmacy shelf staple items have been popular for many years.

However, Uys saw a gap in the market and started to import and distribute these and drug test kits in 2006 with his first company, Real World Diagnostics.

As soon as this generated enough revenue, he was able to invest in a manufacturing facility which came to fruition in 2010.

A small, tidy operation now runs quietly from the Medical Diagnostech premises at a business park in the Cape Town suburb of Brackenfell.

Uys found a space where science and business meet, and was able to exploit it through thinking outside the box.

“I’m always looking at innovation as a way of building a profile. I think that’s the reason I was recognised by Forbes,” he says.

The best piece of advice Uys can offer is to stick at what you are good at.

“Focus on a single idea,” he adds.

“A lot of young entrepreneurs out there think that they should have six, seven businesses running. And they look at all these ideas all the time and they want to execute all ten.

“And time is valuable. I mean, if you don’t put a lot of effort into one idea then you’re not going to be effective and efficient enough to execute one idea.

“When I think of Richard Branson, he’s got multiple companies, but it took him years to build his empire, and he had to focus on one first.”

With Medical Diagnostech now running smoothly Uys is already on to his next idea, which he hopes to officially unveil later this year.