Vaylia CEO Paul Painter provided MEI with a Q&A where he admits that he is a serial entrepreneur, he loves the security industry and wants to bring back a new golden era of innovation. Here he talks about his new company, where it is heading and what the future security risks might be that we all have to embrace….and his unusual hobby.
What is your background and how did you get into the security market? I studied Engineering at University and upon graduation I trained as a Chartered Accountant. Apart from a stint in the Officers Training Corps at University (Students with guns!) and a dad who was in the Police, I had had no security background. Then in 1996 I fulfilled my long-term goal to set up my own company and did this with a friend, importing a fencing system from Germany.
What was different about this company? We were both engineers getting into a ‘metal bashing’ industry. We had both been sponsored by a major aerospace company and I was a Chartered Accountant, so our outlook was quite different to our peers. Robust systems and things such as CAD and management accounts were there from day 1 and when we opened our factory it was state of the art, clean, efficient, and very automated.
Did this lead to benefits in the market? It did and my belief in product development also paid off. We started to win some impressive contracts, and this culminated in the winning of the main perimeter contract for London 2012 and then the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014. This led to us developing a range of high specification fences and Hostile Vehicle Mitigation (HVM) systems. These products were then deployed at events such as the G8 Conference in Northern Ireland.
What happened next? Like all good things they came to an end. In 2017 I sold my 50% share and thought I had hung up my security boots for good. Then last year I was approached by an ex-colleague who encouraged me to get involved again. I visited a few shows in the UK and US and I was surprised that not much had changed – I received a warm welcome and the overwhelming wish by many people to come back into this wonderful industry of ours.
So, you are back? Definitely. Vaylia was born in the middle of the COVID lockdown. The name originates from ‘veil’ to screen, to conceal, to protect, to enfold, to surround.
What is Vaylia about? It is whatever we want it to be and we continue to invent ourselves. When you start with a clean piece of paper, with no constraints, no factories to keep busy, no machines to feed and no overheads, there is no longer an envelope limiting you. So, we are now looking at segments of the market in which we previously had little interest. We are also looking at ‘bolt-ons’ that we can provide through partners that supplement our offer. Sometimes these have no security element.
In summary though, can offer advice, contracting services, a range of niche products where we are no longer manufacturers and, of course, we will be developing our own products where we see a gap in the market.
What have you done so far? An incredible amount in just a few months. I am starting to put back together my old team from the past. We see an important niche in securing major sporting events. Within the company we now have the people who have previously delivered the largest of projects. Vaylia Temporary Overlay will offer an impressive range of temporary security products from fences to CCTV to Hostile Vehicle Mitigation – dedicated to the events industry. It will literally blow the minds of the cluster managers responsible for venue security and give them complete confidence that they are dealing with the best security team there is.
How will you grow Vaylia now? Unlike before where our growth depended upon extending a factory or buying a new machine – our future growth depends upon building successful long-lasting partnerships with other dynamic movers in the market both in the UK and abroad. We will take their successful products and processes and bring them together to offer our clients a package consisting of the best the industry has to offer. Our added value is seeking out the best projects, meeting the requirements of the projects and then delivering them perfectly.
How has the market accepted Vaylia so far? With open arms. We have been pleased with the reception we have received. Already we have formed some extremely strong partnerships with some real heavyweights. They see what we have achieved in the past and see our honesty, our commitment, and our determination to achieve a lot quickly. I think with all the negativity surrounding COVID we have been told we are a good news story.
What next? You will see us getting into more and more disparate sectors – some will surprise others less so. We see a gap in the market for a company like ours. We will go for any quality contract with the right partner and over time we will increase our own capabilities – remember we have no envelope preventing us now.
Tell me about the innovation you are promising. My name is on a number of patents from the near past. Hopefully more will now come. I have ideas swirling in my head – we need new stuff and a fresh perspective. I think being away for a bit has helped me to look at things differently. Vaylia will be innovating – don’t worry about that.
What do you think is the secret of your success? Endless energy and drive and I think I am good at joining the dots. Finding an opportunity and firstly putting all my capabilities into winning it and then hopefully delivering it. However, there is something I really cannot explain – like Peter Pan’s Tinkerbell – a kind of secret voice that comes from nowhere and sets you on a path of certainty. I have felt this come back again recently. I wish I could bottle it. It would sell ????
And for the security risks facing the world – where do you see these heading? Data is becoming a critically important asset and more and more valuable. Its protection will become crucial and leaks potentially more difficult to detect and prevent. This is not just personal data but the data that will run everyday objects from driverless cars to the next generation of items such as TV’s and refrigerators. The protection of the 5G network that will hold much of this data is critical and it is important that world governments prioritise this. On the physical side drones concern me and Japan is only 3 years away from having flying cars – both bring new risks. It may sound too futuristic, but robot technology will also become a threat as the tech becomes better and less expensive. Driverless cars….and trucks – they really need to be failsafe and only used for their intended use. Meanwhile advances in cutting tools no doubt will mean that delay standards must continue to rise and physical barriers must adapt.
What do you like to do in your spare time? I DJ. Since 2015 I have been a club DJ playing progressive house and industrial techno under the name MaxiFeelya. I have played in quite a few famous clubs including Ministry of Sound and Ibiza Rocks. I love to entertain an audience and surprise during my sets. I compare DJ’ing to public speaking which I also enjoy – with both you need to prepare well, get it right on the night and keep your crowd interested. I love the adrenalin rush with both. Like in my work I plan my sets meticulously and always seeks ‘perfection’. The CEO of Goldman Sachs is also a DJ and producer – there clearly is a thing here!
You mentioned earlier your ambitions. What are these? For Vaylia these have no real limits. With a small, but extremely strong management team, thinking very alike, we will over the next months and years build a strong player in the security market. We will encompass many sectors of the market from physical to electronics, visual, sensual and the other new emerging technologies that we are currently seeking. I feel confident for the future and we would love to talk to anyone who wants to get involved and partner with us.
Thank you for your time. I wish you the best of luck with your ambitious plans!