As the eldest of 6 siblings, Ashley Uys was always the ‘responsible guy’. It is often the case that the responsible guy feels that he needs to provide, and it is perhaps this sense of responsibility that drove the 36 year old Biologist to get a good education, get a good job, become an award winning scientist and start three successful biotechnology companies worth millions.
Born and raised in Belhar, Ashley did his best to set a good example for his younger siblings. He knew that they looked up to him and it was important for him to make sure that they saw him in a positive light. He recalls how they grew up with very little but his family always made the most of what they had.
The young Ashely attended Belhar Primary & High School and this is where his love for Biology was born and nurtured. After matriculating, he applied to the University of the Western Cape for a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Biotechnology and graduated in 2002 He completed his Honour’s Degree in 2003 and then enrolled for a two-year internship at Wits University’s and University of Cape Town’s Acorn Technologies. Soon after in 2005, he worked as a Research and Development Assistant, but by this time, he had already developed a burning desire to start his own company. He eventually gave into this desire and by the age of 24, he combined his entrepreneurial drive with his love for improving the lives of others, and started his first company
The 24 year old Ashley had very little business experience, but nevertheless, in 2006 he started Real World Diagnostics , a company that produces ‘Vitro Diagnostics’ test kits such as pregnancy tests and drug tests. . He struggled to find funding for his business and being a newcomer, couldn’t really make a big impact in the biotechnology sector. However, thanks to Ashley’s business acumen, the company still managed to generate a decent income which eventually helped him to open a manufacturing facility. Not entirely satisfied with having started one company, Ashley started his second company, Medical Diagnostech, in 2010.
Much like his first company, Medical Diagnostech produces “high quality lateral flow rapid diagnostic test kits”. One of Ashley’s main goals is to produce affordable biotechnological products that solve problems that are specific to the needs of ordinary South Africans. His company is a leader in the South African medical field and produces more than 20 million affordable test kits a year for HIV, pregnancy, Malaria and drugs. Ashely’s innovative malaria test kit takes less than 30 minutes to detect the disease, which means faster treatment. Of course, despite the overwhelming success of his second company, Ashley’s entrepreneurial drive once again took hold of him, and he decided to start a third company.
In 2013, he started , OculisID, which develops biometric solutions with impairment detection, by analysing the ways in which people’s pupils respond to light. To put it simply, the company produces compact machines that scans the surface of your eye to detect for any substances like drugs. It also developed a detection app that can be loaded onto a normal phone and it also has its law enforcement unit that can help police and communities catch drunken drivers. Just to be clear however, he is not done starting companies.
The talented Mr Uys is a man of, well, many talents. His latest company is called, Au Seal, and it might come as a surprise to know that it is a hair treatment company. The product that he is producing is a ‘first of its kind’, natural gold-plated permanent hair treatment. Being a scientist, Ashley has made sure that the product is up to scientific standard. It is stated on the company’s website that the product has anti-microbial properties which uses negatively charged gold nanoparticles to treat hair, reduce frizz and improve the health of your hair.
The great thing about Ashley’s companies is that he produces his products locally and employs local people to package it, instead of using machinery. He is passionate about creating jobs for South Africans and he sees locally produced goods as a way of uplifting the community so that they can provide for their families. Another awesome feature about Ashley’s companies is that they have an ISO 13480 certification, which means that their products need to be listed with the World Health Organisation. This allows his companies to have a competitive advantage because of the access he has to international funders and tenders.
Ashley’s brilliant mind and hard work has not gone unnoticed. He has received many awards for his work, including the South African Breweries Kick Start National Business of the Year Award in 2008 and the Western Cape Business Opportunity Forum’s Young Entrepreneur award in 2010. In 2012, Ashley was included in Forbes Magazine’s “30 Under 30: Africa’s Best Young Entrepreneurs” list and in 2014, Forbes named him as one of Africa’s most promising young entrepreneurs. He was also featured in the “21 Icons of South Africa” campaign for the development of his affordable and life-saving Malaria test kits.
As much as Ashley loves his job, he loves his 3 year old son even more. He spends every free chance he gets with his son and enjoys talking about him more than he likes talking about his companies. When Ashley is not wearing his lab coat or starting a new company, you will find him washing the grass stains out of his son’s clothes. Ashley was an avid football and cricket player on school, and his son inherited his love for sport. Ashley is also an avid golfer and loves the outdoors where he spends his time camping and braaing with friends and family. He is also part of the University of the Western Cape’s Alumni Programme that funds UWC students. He says that this allows him to help others fulfil their dreams.
Ashley Uys is a responsible guy. As a boy, he was responsible for being good example to his 5 siblings, and as a man, not only could he provide for his family, but he made sure he could provide for South Africans by creating jobs instead of chasing profit. Most importantly, he became a great father to his son. Yes, he is a millionaire CEO, but money does not make a man. A boy can only become a man, if he knows his responsibilities, and the talented Mr Ashley Uys, knows what matters the most.