Keira and I are at O’hare airport for a 7 hour layover. Denver to Chicago, Chicago to Dublin. Then a train ride to Cork.
We are taking a big gamble in a lot of different ways. Not only are we are trying to start a biotech business, we are flying to Ireland to do it. There are simpler businesses to start, businesses which require less capital, lower investment, and can be done in your spare time while you keep your full time job. We are jumping in with both feet into a high risk, high reward proposition. But being able to take this chance, uncertain as it might be is a victory for us.
Keira and I worked in the same lab at CSU, and we have a certain kind of enterpreneurial synergy. We spent lunches and evenings talking about businesses to start, what the next big thing is definitely going to be, and how we would ride that wave to riches.
Lots of ideas spun out of this collaboration. Many bad, some quite good. I tend to be pessimistic about ideas, Keira optimistic, so we ended up having lengthy discussions about ideas; the bad ideas always fall, and the good ideas rise. Eventually we started formalizing our daydreamy talk and began having regular journal clubs.
Our fledgling biotech startup limped along for a bit. I had full time paid employment, Keira was a graduate student, and we did what we could in our free time, but it wasn’t much. Keira graduated, and was able to devote a lot more time to our company. Things started moving at Revolution Bio, and then I got word that the contract at my job was ending.
Keira could manage to work for some period of time earning nothing trying to get our company going. I didn’t have that luxury. So when I heard that I only had 4 months left at my job, I had to devote my free time to a job search, not into company development. To find a job in the biological sciences, that likely meant that I would have to move far away from Colorado, ending this partnership before it really began.
Keira was also running out of steam – the first contract we landed was time-consuming, frustrating, and poorly compensated. Her husband had recently moved for a dream job in Ohio, and despite contacting multiple agencies and partners, we just hadn’t had any bites at that point for any of our ideas.
Then Keira came across SynbioAxlr8r, a biotech start-up accelerator program focusing on synthetic biology. It was right up our alley, and it was in Ireland. When she asked if I was interested into going to Ireland, I never responded to her email. We weren’t getting in anyway, so why bother thinking about it.
I barely had a hand in shaping the application– my free time was devoted to my job search. Still, when Keira forwarded me the application materials for the accelerator program, I made comments and corrections.
Lo and behold, we got an interview for the accelerator. A week later we got an email confirming our acceptance, and we were on our way.
So I quit my job a month-and-half before it was anyway slated to end, we got an apartment rented in Cork, and we came up with a three month science plan. We are flying there now.
I really hope this is the opportunity we were looking for, and leads to continued opportunities for us to grow our business. I think both Keira and I will be busting our tails this summer to make sure we give ourselves the greatest chance to succeed.