“What You do in Life chooses You”

Image courtesy of
John Blumen

Life today moves so fast.

Companies are created with high valuations and yet crumble to nothing within 12 months. In less than a year you could blow through your Series A funding without even fully completing your Product Development Team. Nowadays, everyone is focused on recruiting “Rock Star” Programmers and Elite Business School co-founders, yet companies are making the mistake of passing up on people who possess god given talents that you cannot learn.

This week I had the pleasure of meeting with an accomplished Angel Investor, yeah hard to believe that I was even able to get close to one given that we still don’t have a prototype, but believe it.

I must say that contrary to the stereotypical “Wall Street Shark” persona,  not all of them are blood-sucking creatures. Some of them are really ethical and want to help you out as much as possible. After all, if they are putting their money (and trust) into your venture it’s probably because they believe in you and want you to do well(so they can do well).

My point is that  I met someone who changed my perspective on Angels and really cleared things up when it came to knowing what Angels look for when they want to invest. Still, it baffled me why more Investors don’t come right out and say that the personality of team members is also a determining factor in their investment decisions and that sometimes (not very many) they bet it all on someone just because there is something about them they cannot put their finger on. I understood exactly what they meant, but most people probably won’t so I’ll briefly shed some light on it.

They were talking about a true creative type person. Most people won’t understand what I mean so I wanted to write this entry to try and convince those out there with authority to give those wacky characters a shot at making great companies.

Joe DeMartino  has a  long history of involvement in the Technology Industry. As far back as to say he was involved with Apple when it had the IIe model, so I trust his industry knowledge. Nevertheless; as a member of the Angel Capital Association and Angel Investor Forum Joe is a numbers guy. It would be hard to get him to buy into a pie in the sky enterprise if your Term and Cap sheet didn’t make sense. Yet, even he admits that there is one component of all successful companies that cannot be overlooked.  I want to draw attention to an attribute that is harder to quantify than any valuation or market cap, but every Angel Investor and VC across the world consider it to bear heavy weight in their decision to invest in a Start-Up.

In case you’re missing what I’m trying to say, I’m talking about adding Functional Diversity to your team through the use of members who exhibit natural creative abilities. The “Creatives” are personalities that run scarce in the Startup World. (well unless your company deals directly with a creative industry such as Graphic Design, Video Production or Entertainment), but most companies nowadays are looking for hardcore quantifiable technical expertise and overlooking what I like to label as natural creative instincts. I call it an instinct due to the fact that just as some people are more predisposed to quantitative disciplines, there are some of us out there who create and innovate from a deep sense of within that can be triggered instantly in any situation.

It is a funny thing that we are continuously trying to recreate this action in machines through the use of AI, yet the people who possess these gifts are not being recruited to work at tech companies. I guess we’ve become a society that has put more faith in its algorithms than its human traits.

In this day and age, there’s no question that most jobs will be replaced by autonomous processes or Robots, or maybe even Androids. Yet,  we are focusing so much on the functionality of technical skills that we are forgetting the only truly human trait that cannot be duplicated, Imagination. No matter how complex your AI algorithm is, its hard to picture it taking in a sight such as a rainbow and coming up with something inspirational that could unearth the feeling of hope in someone after a bad day. That sense of familiarity we get when we read poetic prose, or the renewal of hope we obtain from overcoming adversity, even the memories of a past love that wanders into our minds from smelling a particular scent. These qualities are all now trying to be replicated into machines, while the true essence of this ability is left behind as an unemployable demographic.  Through the rationalization and affirmation that there is a skill gap in the current workforce that cannot be addressed by harnessing the power of abstract creativity. these personalities are being practically blacklisted by hiring managers.

Creativity is hard to explain, it is not just being able to draw something or have the inert ability to instinctively pair up colors that are appeasing and mood setting. I’m talking about truly creative Genius. You see where most HR and corporate recruiters fail is that they seem to stick to the hardcore scope of a job description. A string of text that was probably put together by someone who understands the human condition less than the average person and who was probably too busy too put forth any creative effort themselves when they thought about what they were writing.

See it is my opinion that creativity is a divine gift that not everyone is endowed with. We admire someone’s creativity from afar, yet we use it as entertainment to call away from the really pressing matters of mundane tasks. Think about how many times we may have lost ourselves in a G-Easy or Rihanna song ( or whichever artist you like to listen to)  or a Piano Concerto by a classical artist and unknowing entered a state of FLOW. Do we really believe a machine will be able to artificially awaken this in us?

What people don’t know about this great mystery is that it is a blessing more profound and mysterious than the deepest knowledge of the Physical world. Without it, you actually could not fathom any of the greatest scientific findings of mankind and yet we simply look at it as a character trait that makes people socially awkward, eccentric or just plain weird.

What people don’t understand is that creativity is not one dimensional like people would think. Recruiters and managers are only considering creative types when they feel the need to fulfill a team quota based on a management manual that mandate, having a creative person on the team gives it balance. Little to never do you see a creative person really as the leader in a company because we assume that their creativity is a one-dimensional item that is limited to only what we see or that it can only serve in one direction, that of creating something appeasing whose only purpose may be to be admired and therefore not productive in a workplace sense.  Well, I’m here to tell you that creativity is much deeper than that.

To further prove my point, I’d like to show you this video of Jim Carrey. Everyone knows Jim Carrey as a lovable clown who’s contortionist like movements and gestures make us bust out in belly busting laughter. Anyone would tell you that he is one of the greatest comedians Hollywood has ever seen, but that is where you would be wrong. Jim Carrey is not a one-dimensional character he is a complete and verified creative Genius with a unique and insightful understanding of the human condition, and in my opinion, would make a respectable executive at some company. Yet, he would probably never make it past the resume screening software or those awful aptitude tests.

This short documentary will shock you at the true Genius behind Carrey’s personality, who even in late stages of his life discovered he had more hidden creativity than he ever thought, and for that reason I thought it would be a good idea to use him as a platform to further explain that creativity is way more important value than technical skills for surviving in the Start-Up world.
please take a few minutes to watch this amazing man turn his feelings into Art.

 

Yale Innovation Summit

On May 10, 2017, I had the distinct pleasure of attending the most prestigious congregation of Science and Technology startups in the State of Connecticut. The event was held at the Illustrious Yale School of Management. Being at this annual event for the first time has been hard for me to describe. It has actually taken about a week just to discern what I should be writing about. I couldn’t contextualize what it felt like to be around representatives from some of the largest VC firms in the country, and speak to Yale students and faculty who were showcasing cutting edge research. This was the first time in my life where I had to research someone’s pitch on the internet. The projects they were working on were so deep in advanced science that for the most part, I did not understand the scientific terminology they were using( a very humbling experience by the way) and most of the stuff flew right over me. Most of the time I just stood around listening to random drifting conversations about new advances in Cancer treatments, Neurological Diseases, Artificial Intelligence, Cardiology, Genetics, and Medical Devices.

The event was split between two tracks. One had to do specifically with all things Biotechnology and the other was in general terms centered around all sorts of other Technological Innovations within a broad spectrum that ranged from Mobile Applications all the way to Social Enterprises. One could describe the event in parts as an awards ceremony, with a pitch-off competition and massive networking session through electronic posters presentations. Some of us received the honor of presenting a regular printed poster near the entrance into The Zhang Auditorium. Which I am extremely thankful for because, even though our project is in a very early research phase, we still got the opportunity to pitch to a few straggling wanderers and collect a few business cards with possible collaborators.

In the rest of this blog, I will attempt to give some insight into the event and enumerate my takeaways from the Keynote speakers and the various panels. For the sake of brevity, I will try to be as compact and concise as possible without rambling too much about my own subjectivity. In case you’d like to learn more about a certain theme or person I have included links in the passage to many of the main ideas and people that I encountered on that day.

I hope you enjoy this small journey into a major regional event within the Biotech arena. I hope that I can bring a bit of insight to our readers and share the attitudes and trends that shape some of the world’s top scientific talent.
Enjoy!

Yale Innovation summit splash screen

The Keynote speakers were Amazing!!

During the morning session, I got to listen to a very accomplished entrepreneur describe one of the biggest problems with Innovation. Jim Hornthal was a founding vice chairman of Travelocity.com from 2000-2002. He is currently the chairman of LaunchPad Central. His Keynote speech brought great ease of mind to me. Mr. Hornthal spoke about “Unlocking the Innovation Genome”, and I’d like to attempt and describe some of the key takeaways from this presentation as it opened my eyes to a neglected field that although intangible, has a critical impact on the success of any venture.

Yale Innovation summit Keynote Jim Hornthal

His speech started out by drawing attention to the outstanding fact that the United States spent close to $1.8 Trillion dollars into R&D operations in 2016. He went on to clarify his view on the R&D process by organizing them based on three phases (Execution > Search > Discovery). The last part of the process being the most difficult one because it is the main road to innovation, however, there is no set way to achieve it. He went on to outline the major problems that Discovery and Innovation bring which I’ll try to summarize.

What I took away from his explanation was as follows:

  1. It is a really hard process!
  2. It is riddled with mistakes
  3. No way to track when and how a company pivots
  4. No archive of mistakes made and which paths were taken.

He mentioned a very exceptional Steve Blank who through his book The Four Steps to Epiphany has been used as the core methodology for the Lean Startup Movement. An effort that has launched many successful small ventures based on their ability to integrate his “Customer Development” framework into their operations and that is currently used successfully in the I-Corps program sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

To illustrate his point further Mr. Hornthal used an amusing video clip from South Park Season 02 Episode 17 titled”Gnomes”. Where the boys ask the underpants stealing Gnomes about their business model. This was really quite amusing but disturbingly accurate. The point he was trying to make was that there is an empty slot between Execution and Discovery that most companies cannot quantify and that it is seen as the main culprit in failing enterprises.  His point was that “most companies don’t fail because of their product, they fail because they do not know who their customers really are”.  Just like the Gnomes, they expect that if they create a product, tons of customers will flock to it.

He went on to further explain that it is important to use Data, not as the sole variable to solve all problems, but that its true function is to help find patterns and enhance the recognition of the capability of a product by using the idea of “wisdom of crowds”. This he broke down into variables which he labeled as:

This he broke down into variables which he labeled as:

  • Ontology
  • Taxonomy
  • Algorithms
  • Visualization

He further went on to explain that when it comes to discovery and the wisdom of crowds there is a scale that can help you shape your product to customers. and that this scale is integrative of four components.

This scale is based on the integration of four components.

  1. Inside building (Employees)
  2. Market Data
  3. Outside building (Customers)
  4. Data

By using these variables as measures, companies can achieve knowledge related to their Technology Readiness Level (TRL) ( a NASA defined scale to measure the critical technology readiness of an innovation) and furthermore determine their Investment Readiness Level (IRL) to attract investment and further develop their products.

Yale Innovation summit Jim Hornthal TRL IRL

Mr. Hornthal’s testimony was a great eye opener for our company. It showed us that there is a roadmap that companies can follow in order to fine tune their technology’s specs to find a true value proposition for their customers, raise their TRL and increase their IRL to attract outside investment.  They way he delivered the message made us understand that although the inner workings of Discovery are complex, sporadic, and unpredictable there is a way to stage and follow a roadmap to a successful technology company. His Keynote was very inspirational and fun and set a light-hearted and optimistic tone for the rest of the events to follow.

They way he delivered the message made me understand that although the inner workings of Discovery are complex, sporadic, and unpredictable there is a way to stage and follow a roadmap to a successful technology company. His Keynote Address was very inspirational and fun. He set a light-hearted and optimistic tone for the rest of the events to follow.

After this Keynote the congregation split into two tracks. I stayed in the same place and waited for the Biotechnology panel while others ascended to the 2nd floor for the Technology forum. To be honest, I was really inclined to partake in the latter as the title of the panel “Corporate Venture Capital Investing in Technology” sounded like something more attainable for us. Counter-intuitively I opted to stay with “Crossing the Chasm: from Invention to Clinical Trial Funding” even though our company is years away from any type of clinical trial.  I thought it best to learn more about the intricacies of the medical field taking advantage of the panel in Biotech since I was at the East Coast hub for this industry and it was the underlying motive for Ambrosia Labs’s inception.

These were the panelists featured in the Biotechnology Track:

Yale Innovation summit Panel Biotech1

I’m really glad that I stayed for this panel!

The members sitting up there represented a wide array of Venture Capital firms. The panel gave me intrinsic insight into what VC firms look for when investing in new technologies. Now, I won’t try to debrief everyone’s taste individually so I will quickly run down the important facts that were mentioned at the panel.Basically, these firms are interested in early stage companies ( not as early as us though) they are more looking for companies in the Pre-seed stage all the way through series B and beyond. I was not even aware what a pre-seed stage was but thanks to them now I know where we stand on this spectrum. Some of these companies like J&J Innovation centers invest in about 75 companies a year and hold a portfolio of around 300 backed ventures in phases I through III. Of course, not many companies up there could compete with the resources that J&J has to invest, or have been in business just as long. I dare not even try to guess what their funding pool looks like but I’m sure it is well above the $300 Million dollars threshold, and that is probably a really conservative estimation.

Basically, these firms are interested in early stage companies ( not as early as us though) they are looking for companies between the pre-seed stage all the way through series B and beyond. I was not even aware what a pre-seed stage was but thanks to them, now I know where we stand on this spectrum. Some of these companies like J&J Innovation centers invest in about 75 companies a year and hold a portfolio of around 300 backed ventures in phases I through III. Of course, not many companies up there could compete with the resources that J&J has to invest, or have been in business just as long. I dare not even try to guess what their funding pool looks like but I’m sure it is well above the $300 Million dollars threshold, and that is probably a really conservative estimation.

Some of these companies like J&J Innovation centers invest in about 75 companies a year and hold a portfolio of around 300 backed ventures in phases I through III. Of course, not many companies up there could compete with the resources that J&J has to invest, or have been in business just as long. I dare not even try to guess what their funding pool looks like but I’m sure it is well above the $300 Million dollar threshold, and that is probably a really conservative estimation.

The rest of the panelist were probably closer to the types of VC’s we would like to work with as we develop our products. Their investments range anywhere from $1-5 Million dollars per year and they usually invest in 3-5 companies a year. Except for Elm street ventures who works exclusively with Yale-bred early stage ventures, we might have a shot at catching the eyes of any of the remaining three.

I was really interested in learning more about Polaris Partners, as they mentioned they love to work with companies that are right out of Academia and before anything major is published. They also really liked Platforms (and it just so happens that is what we decided to become). I feel we might be a good fit for this type of VC firm in the future and they also mentioned they liked to get really hands on with the founders, something we could definitely use.

One thing that was clear across the board was that they all agreed there is a difference in the investment strategy of West Coast and East Coast VC’s. I guess this not only applies to Hip-Hop but to the investment world as well. They all agreed that investing in Biotech is a totally different beast than investing in Technology firms. Whereas West Coasts investors like investing in more idealistic founders ( who have a proven track record) East Coast firms are more conservative and base their investments based on market share acquisition and numbers. I guess we on the East Coast adhere better to the old adage that “Money talks, Bullshit walks”, and we could probably thank Wall Street for that.

In any case listening to this panel of experts really gave me an idea of what we need to accomplish in order to attract their attention, a good product is not the only variable they look for. When a new entrepreneur is on the verge of bringing their product to the limelight, the team surrounding the venture is something that can separate the funded from the fund-less. One of the questions from the audience asked: “How can we get to the readiness level of developing an attractive product without any funding”?

This was an excellent question that has plagued me for over three years in our search to fund our initial research. Their answer was to look for non-equity financing and they even suggested the following:

It was good to know that Connecticut has a lot of programs to help Life Science companies get off the ground, and it reassured me that our decision to incorporate in the State was the right one!

By the time this panel was over I had a more hopeful outlook about the current situation of our company. The fact that everyone agreed that all Biotech ventures shared similar hurdles were comforting, but the fact that most of the skilled researchers were also competing for the same funding pool made me a bit nervous. Since we just recently incorporated in the U.S. I felt as if we were a bit behind the eight ball in this aspect. One could compare it to getting the last spot in a fantasy sports draft.

Never the less, I felt confident that our corporate culture and altruistic disposition would entice some of the younger generation of researchers to join our team.

After this panel, we got a much-needed coffee break, and I was able to head out to my poster station and mingle with some of the other presenters. During this time I had the delightful surprise of running into a childhood friend, although I should say he is more like Kin than anything.

Yale Innovation summit Rich&Kelvin1

Kelvin Polanco is an IT and Media Specialist at the Yale School of Management (and probably the only other person of Dominican descent at the event) whom I have not seen for over ten years. We did not get to hang out much during the event as he was supporting the Technology track upstairs and was running around for much of the day, but it was comforting to know someone else at the event!

I must say that I am proud of what this young man has accomplished with sheer determination. Growing up together in humble beginnings and then randomly meeting up at one of the Country’s most prestigious academic institutions was a really great surprise.

After the event we caught up at an old college bar I used to frequent when I was going to school in New Haven, the place hadn’t changed much but New West Cafe was a perfect place to get some delicious ( and affordable) Buffalo wings and engage in uninhibited chatter about our adolescence and the friends we left behind. I wish him all the luck in the world in his future endeavors!

After lunch, I did not have much time to listen to the pitch competition. In a fit of self-centeredness, I decided that I should forgo this part of the program and instead focus on standing next to my poster and see if I could do a bit of networking. To my dismay, not many people showed interest. I wasn’t upset, I knew something like this might happen, so instead of becoming bitter I made the most out of it and started to chat up the other poster presenters. I must say we had a good time discussing scientific theories in A.I., Culture Politics and Microbiology.

My favorite discussion partner was a Physicist who actually studied space dust and who, based on his discovery of organic perforations found on a meteorite. Asked me if the situation Matt Damon faced in the movie “The Martian” was actually possible.

He was referring of course to cultivating Potatoes in space with the dehydrated fecal matter from the crew. After several light-hearted jokes and belly busting laughs we both agreed that although plausible, the technique used would probably not work as well as it did.

 

The martian potatoes

Before the next panel began I tried to sneak a peek at the Technology track panel “Building Successful Ventures from Startup to Exit”.

Yale Innovation summit Panel Technology1

To my surprise, I had actually shared a table at lunch with Helge Seetzen from Tandem Launch! I kicked myself for not asking him more questions, but because I was dogmatically set on pushing our Biotech agenda I did not capitalize on that opportunity.  Lesson learned, at these types of events every interaction can lead to something big!

Lesson learned, at these types of events every interaction can lead to something big!

In any case, I was not able to spend much time at this seminar, the venue was filled to capacity and I had to watch it in a separate room through a projection screen. Even though I was really interested in the topic of discussion I had to leave because the thought of not being around my poster when another networking opportunity surfaced was too much.

One key takeaway that stuck with me from the tech panel (and it really only caught my attention for a moment from the vulgarity of it, as I was fidgeting trying to transfer pictures from one mobile to the other without success) was that everyone agreed on this one thing.  Helge went on to explain that at his firm they have the “No Asshole Rule”. The rule devised by Stanford professor Robert I. Sutton was a norm when considering which founders they invested in. I found this quite humorous at first and then realized he was dead serious about it.

For those of you that don’t know, this rule is becoming a standard for deciding whether or not to invest in a startup and their founder. It is basically a canon in the tech industry for minimizing the hostility of work environments in an already stressful enough profession.

Before you say anything I want to add that the aforementioned rule was not my only take away from my short exposure to the panel, even though it did cause me to chuckle. The other important point that stuck with me was the panelist’s emphasis on the founder’s ability to prove themselves as a successful CEO. Some of the metrics they mentioned they used for this were:

  • Experience at a prior company
  • The founder’s technical and academic background
  • Their ability to learn quickly and be organized
  • The question whether or not you would work for this person.

The last thing I heard before I left was a shared consensus on the importance of having solid IP protection of your technology. Most founders, he said “waste money on things that are not important. They get sucked into the Hollywood version of company founders. They buy ping pong tables and massage chairs, and skimp out on the important things like IP and licensing agreements”.

I did not attend the Biotech panel on “The Future of Immuno-Oncology” as I felt this was way over our heads for the moment. I chose instead to continue to stand next to my poster in hopes that someone might take an interest in our research, no one did and at around 3 pm I made my way to the Auditorium to hear the closing Keynote speaker.

I know this post is getting a bit lengthy so I ‘ll try to be brief in this closing part. I encourage you to follow the link at the end of the post to read one of the most inspiring speeches I have ever had the pleasure to hear. I guarantee you the time spent will not be wasted.

The Afternoon Keynote

Dr. Gerald Chan delivered the most inspiring speech I have ever heard in my life! I was an instant fan of the man who donated $350 Million Dollars to create the new  T.H.Chan school of Public Health at Harvard University and who Forbes called Boston’s Invisible Billionaire

I will not go in too deeply into what Dr. Chan said because I would be denying you the pleasure of reading about his “Reflections on Venture Investing in Biotechnology”. All I will say is that I’ve never met a Billionaire before and standing there at Zhang auditorium with this simple, charming gentlemen and listening to his points of view as an Immigrant and a Philanthropist being eloquently projected at towards the highest echelon of Scientist in the State really resonated with me. His opinions on Research and Social responsibility were shockingly not far from my own, and that was just about the biggest surprise I’ve ever received in my lifetime.

All I will say is that I’ve never met a Billionaire before and standing there at Zhang auditorium with this simple, charming gentlemen and listening to his points of view as an Immigrant and a Philanthropist being eloquently projected towards the highest echelon of Scientist in the State really resonated with me. His opinions on Research and Social responsibility were shockingly not far from my own, and that was just about the biggest surprise I’ve ever received in my lifetime.

His opinions on Research and Social responsibility were shockingly not far from my own, and that was just about the biggest surprise I’ve ever received in my lifetime.

I am not proud of the fact that it has been more than a decade in which I could say I’ve truly idolized anyone. However, seeing Dr. Chan get on his knees in front of hundreds of people to reach off stage for a bottle of water, and poke fun at the Yale – Harvard rivalry was really eye opening. One would think that a man who has accrued over a Billion dollars in investments and studied at top universities ( Even though he did not have an America High School Diploma) would lead a complex life full of turmoil brought about by maximizing financial gains and a high profile lifestyle. Instead, I discovered this wonderfully normal man with a witty sense of humor and a hardy laugh, who laughed at his own jokes as if they were the funniest thing he’s ever heard( and he was actually funny).  I will not contine on what this event meant to me, instead, I invite you to look up Dr. Chan and see what others have to say about him.

Instead, I discovered this wonderfully normal man with a witty sense of humor and a hardy laugh, who laughed at his own jokes as if they were the funniest thing he’s ever heard( and he was actually funny).  I will not continue rambling on about what this event meant to me. Instead, I invite you to look up Dr. Chan and see what others have to say about him.

O.K. One last point!

There is one thing that Dr. Chan said that really stuck with me and I’d like to pass on to you. In the midst of a new shift in the paradigm of Science where everyone is looking to live forever and maximize returns at any cost, this man left a deep impression on me by his emphasizing the idea that “Without faith, life becomes empty.”

If you would like to read Dr. Chan’s full Keynote Address please visit this link.

Keynote speech, Yale Innovation Summit, May 10 2017, New Haven, Connecticut

 

 

Teaching an old business new tricks: Learning about Biotech Business and VC’s in New Haven

It is 7:00 am on Saturday and I’ve already been up for four hours trying to digest all the energy and knowledge passed down this past week.  I was fortunate enough to experience three days of events centered around the Yale Startup competition.

I have never before seen so many brilliant minds in one location for an extended period of time. It is both Beautiful and taxing. Every conversation leads to a potential opportunity or insightful feedback, but one thing was certain no one there was easily impressed. Every person I got to speak with, was “Top-Brass” within their respective areas and it felt amazing being around such confident speakers.

This was such a wide awakening, I was not prepared for how quickly this environment exposed the weaknesses of our planning and put them right into our line of sight. I wanted to share this on the blog because it has been a magnificent experience that I would like to hold on to, as a reminder of how much we still have to grow.

Here’s a quick recap of our experience:

Day 1

I arrived in New Haven and walked straight to 100 College St. As I get closer to the site one structure sticks out. A glass covered building with a sign that reads Alexion, which happened to be my destination.

IMG_20170419_165147

The event was part of a continuous series that lead into the Yale Innovation Summit on May 10th. The first event was titled “Business of Biotech”, and it was basically a crash course on how to pitch in the Biotechnology sector. The event was super fun! The speaker was very dynamic and accepting of questions from the crowd. At the end of the session we got to practice our pitches and received feedback from the audience who was composed of researchers, industry experts and up and coming students.

Not only did I learn how to put a pitch deck together, and which information Biotech VC’s care to know about. I saw first hand the level of know-how you need to possess to be competitive at such high level.

I met two wonderful people at the event, Erika Smith, Director of the Blavatnik Fund for Innovation at Yale and one of the event organizers. The other person was Colleen Cuffaro, a principal at Canaan Partners a global venture capital firm that invests in people with visionary ideas. Both of them were kind enough to allow me to take a picture with them. Trust me, my shoddy interim phone camera does no justice towards these two glowing Ladies.

The information passed down was invaluable for us, since we really had no idea how what was expected of a Biotech pitch deck. Both of them were very welcoming of a new kid on the block startup such as ourselves, I thank them deeply.

Day 2

This day started out a bit weird. I decided to stay with an old college roommate for the week, and relied on public transportation. I don’t know why, but I’ve been doing that as of late. I feel as if taking the bus allows me to reconnect with the places that I haven’t visited in a while, and I really like to people watch. So as I made my way to the bus I ran across this.

IMG_20170421_083710

That’s right, if you thought it looked like an unopened candy bar just laid out on the ground in front of the bus stop, then you are correct!
Now some of you might think this was a lucky break, but even though I’ve been overseas for the last seven years I still retain some good’ ole USA street smarts. There’s no way I was going to take a bite out of this thing and wake up in some psycho’s “SAW” inspired fantasy. So I fought off temptation and headed to my next event.

I got off the bus at my next location, 193 Whitney Ave, New Haven, CT. This was the location for the MIT Enterprise Forum for the Connecticut region. This regular meeting group fosters networking connections that are developed amongst technology entrepreneurs and the communities in which they reside. I was lucky enough to sit in on a case study presentation for a product named Iterative Search led by serial entrepreneur John Ireland.
IMG_20170420_180242

This event had by far some of the fastest networking I’ve ever experience. Since the moment I got there (I was early) there were people in suits ready to speak to you. I barely had stuffed a piece of cheese from the wonderful food plate in my mouth and I was already speaking with a project manager from Bayer, who was there looking for the next big thing.

I was lucky enough to speak with the presenter for almost 20 minutes and learned about his vast entrepreneurial experience. I also met some consultants and prominent IP attorneys from the area and even exchanged information with a formulation pharmacist. I managed to pique some of their interest, but I really enjoyed speaking to Douglas Lyon Director of the Applied research laboratory at Fairfield University and president of the Inventors Association of Connecticut, who cordially invited me to their next meeting.

This was a very productive event as I secured three meetings with people who showed interest in our project. I recommend anyone looking to start a Biotechnology or Tech company in the area to join and attend the events put on by this organization.

Day 3

IMG_20170421_161709

The final day of events was probably the most strenuous for me, and I was just a visitor. I could not imagine what the various teams pitching at the #Startup Yale Competiton felt like. It was truly an honor to witness all these student-led startups making a significant impact in the world. Just to give you a quick rundown, this was an annual event put on by the Yale School of Management where students compete for USD$100,000 in prize opportunities.

The prices were split amongst these categories:

I wish I could go on to describe what it felt like to be there, but I think this post is already a bit lengthy. I do invite you to read more about the competition and the winners here, check out #Startup Yale.

One last thing I would like to add is that all of the winning teams were led by Women. Something that is rarely seen in these types of competitions and that I felt was worth mentioning. These women made their powerful presence felt in that Auditorium bringing home the prize and I was glad to be there to witness it.

There is so much more I can say, but I think you get the point of how progressive this week has been for us. We even had the nerve to submit a pitch deck for the Yale Innovation Summit happening on May 10th.

We realize that we are at a very early stage but we could not pass up an opportunity to get feedback from the talented people at Yale, and if we get anything out of this (even if it is a rejection) we should see it as an opportunity to improve on our goals and vision to create a lucrative and impactful future as one of Connecticut’s Biotechnology companies.