Business expert Max Toti wants his experiences founding and expanding an international computer technology group to help the University of Southampton produce the world’s best graduates.
Max is the Managing Director and Chief Technology Officer of the Captec Group, a network of four technology companies manufacturing specialist and industrial computer systems. He is a Visiting Professor at Southampton and an Electronics and Computer Science alumnus.
“The greatest advice I could give to anyone is to get yourself a mentor,” he says. “I wish I could have had access to mentors when I was at university. I have a strong network of advisers now, but I had to learn the hard way.
“What you don’t realise when you’re young is just quite how much you don’t know. You can sometimes go down blind alleys and waste a tremendous amount of time, energy and money, when the right mentor or adviser could prevent you from making serious or strategic mistakes.”
Max is prepared to offer holistic support to set aspiring entrepreneurs in the right direction on their business ventures. He can offer advice on ideas, make connections through his network, nurture spinouts in an incubation centre and help source investment. You can get in touch with Max using the contact form on this page.
Max lived in eight different African countries before he was 18 as his family followed his father’s work designing and building hydroelectric power stations. His studies at the University of Southampton were sponsored by IBM and he started his career as an Electronics Engineer at the company’s Hursley Laboratories. He next moved on to systems engineering and sales in Hewlett-Packard with stints in California and Scotland.
“It was a huge foundation experience to be trained in an area of US with great amount of innovation and entrepreneurship,” he says. “I got intoxicated with the entrepreneurial spirit while I was out there so when I came back I was itching to find my opportunity.
“The industry was going through a major transformation. The PC had arrived and was enabling people to do lots of things. There were a lot of companies that had engineering, industrial and scientific requirements for applying computers in relatively hostile environments and I started to build up a picture of creating a company that could solve some of these problems.”
Max formed Captec Ltd in 1985 with a focus on designing and manufacturing specialist and industrial computers. Captec’s computers can be found in London Underground stations, on British naval destroyers, on North Sea oil rigs, in hospitals specialist treatment facilities and in British police cars. The Captec Group consists of companies based in the UK, Canada and the USA, and Max is overseeing strategic growth and acquisitions ahead of an initial public offering (IPO) listing on the London stock exchange planned for 2018.
“I have a very conservative and old fashioned model of business where you have to be profitable as soon as possible,” he says. “If you can’t, you probably shouldn’t be in the game. I have a track record of 30 years of profit and I intend to keep that record intact.”
Max wants to instil a commercial awareness in students and staff to help Southampton produce the world’s best technical graduates.
“To be a good entrepreneur there must be huge sacrifice,” he explains. “You have to be prepared for that. If you are willing to pay that huge premium and sacrifice lots of things, then the chances are you will be successful.”