Simon Kampa has made the transition from software engineer to business director in an impressive career which has included spells in the defence, energy and space sectors. A proud Southampton alumnus, he rose through the ranks at Lockheed Martin, Roke Manor Research Limited and CRITICAL Software before co-founding predictive analytics startup Senseye in late 2014. Simon wants his role as a Future Worlds mentor to replicate the support he received when his business was in its infancy as more bright ideas become successful companies on campus.
Simon was born in Berlin and spent his childhood in Germany, Pakistan, Taiwan and Abu Dhabi as his family travelled for his father’s work. His studies brought him to the University of Southampton, where he specialised in Computer Science before completing a PhD in the Semantic Web.
He secured a post as a software engineer with Lockheed Martin and was promoted into management across four exciting years with the technologies giant. In 2006, he moved on to spend two years as a Technical Consultant at Roke Manor Research Limited. His career continued in a new role at CRITICAL Software, a company in the University of Southampton Science Park focusing on aircraft, submarines and military equipment.
Simon excelled as an Engineering Manager and later the Managing Director as the company dramatically grew between 2008 and 2014. “l developed a lot of grey hair during that time but it was an amazing experience,” he says. “It gave me the appetite to set up my own company and there were a variety of events that meant it soon became the right time to do it.” Senseye was formed in December 2014, building on Simon and his colleagues’ collective experience to advance analytics technology feeding from the wave of sensor data being generated by the Internet of Things.
His advice for students is to consider starting their careers at smaller companies since they can often offer more experience sooner for new starters. “The best strategy for gaining long term success is to keep challenging yourself,” he says. “Talk to as many people as possible and surround yourself with trusted advisors. Be prepared to open yourself up to being scrutinised and challenged if necessary.”
Simon believes Future Worlds’ mentors and networking opportunities is an invaluable asset to aspiring entrepreneurs. “When we set up Senseye, we regularly needed input from a wide array of backgrounds,” he says. “Without it we simply could not have succeeded.
“Most people just need that little nudge. It is so obvious when you hear it, but you don’t see it yourself because you are so into the company. It’s hard sometimes to step back and get that impartial advice but it is so important.”
Simon has broad experience covering the engineering, commercial and financial aspects of starting a business. “If there are people out there who are considering launching a technology or are in early stages of founding a business, come and have a chat with me and see if l can help.” You can get in touch with Simon using the contact form on this page.
“I think it’s really important to support staff and student startups as they are what fundamentally drive innovation in the economy,” he adds. “It helps build an entrepreneurial spirit. If we can sort out that mentality as early as possible, it will breed a great group of people and make this country successful.”