LM Live Recap: Women in BioTech on Breaking Into the Booming Industry
LM Live kicked off a new season of programming on Tuesday, October 24 at the Studio at 7 World Trade Center with a networking event for women interested in the fast-growing field of biotechnology. A joint effort with Women.NYC, the Unlocking Careers of the Future: Women Shaping BioTech event included a panel discussion with industry leaders, who dug into their own career pathways, current work and ways today’s scientists and budding entrepreneurs can get involved.
Susan Rosenthal, NYC EDC’s senior vice president, Life Sciences and Healthcare, moderated a stacked panel featuring Dr. Chandrabali Ghose-Paul, founder of BioHarmony Therapeutics; Dr. Piraye Yurttas Beim, founder & CEO of Celmatix, Bunny Ellerin, co-Founder and CEO of Digital Health New York and research scientist Dr. Yana Zorina. The panelists discussed what it takes to break into the industry, noting that while having a background in science is important for a baseline understanding of biotechnology, being able to market your product to investors, collaborators and future customers is essential. Ghose-Paul recalled her first meeting with a venture capitalist, during which she gave a science-heavy presentation that prompted crickets.
“After the presentation, the VC said, ‘You have to know how to sell your stuff,’” she said. “You need to learn how to sell your product to the person on the other side, and convince a bunch of mostly men to give you money to sell your products.”
Beim said that she had no former entrepreneurial training when she started her company, “As a scientist with a PhD background, I had a lot of imposter syndrome around business,” she said. But she discovered that the skills she built writing and defending her PhD were surprisingly useful. “You can learn all the proper nouns and how to exist in a business world, but the PhD is the ultimate entrepreneurial experience,” she said. She and the other panelists recommended utilizing any resources available to them to learn more about the business word; PhD students, for instance, should consider auditing entrepreneurial classes to get the jargon down.
The panelists all stressed the importance of networking, something they said is much more common in the business community than the scientific one. Ghose-Paul said she was able to start her business after networking with a group of scientists who shared a lab she worked in. Beim said she moved to New York from Boston — despite Boston’s thriving biotech community — because she wanted to be closer to the epicenter of digital technology, and found the connections she made here invaluable for starting her business.
And the panelists encouraged people interested in biotechnology to seek out mentors in the field. Mentors, they said, can help guide you when you’re lost, calm you down when things feel intense, and push you when you’re ready to give up. Ellerin recommended finding a mentor you have a personal connection with, and do your research.
“Ally with someone you know, and let them know what it is about you that’s so impressive and why you want them to be your mentor,” she said. “It gives me so much gratification to see my mentees succeed, and so much hope for the future.
You can listen to a recording of the panel discussion here; and stay tuned for more industry-centered LM Live events in the months to come.Tags: biotech