On March 17, 2016, WIB-Capital Region hosted a panel discussion on women entrepreneurship in the biotech industry. The speakers were:
Amita Shukla, M.B.A., founder and CEO of Vitamita, a former member of TEDCO in Maryland, and author of Enduring Edge: Transforming How We Think, Create and Change
Amy Millman, CEO of SpringBoard, which helps startups. Amy told the event audience that her dream for SpringBoard wasn't to get every woman funded, but to get women investing in each other. In that, she's been successful, starting the "Dolphin Tank" in the D.C. area where entrepreneurs thinking of a start-up can pitch their idea to prospective investors.
Carol Nacy, Ph.D., co-founder of Sequella in 1997 after many years as a scientist at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Washington, DC, and as president of the American Society of Microbiology.
During the panel discussion, Amita Shukla spoke about the mindset needed for success as an entrepreneur, stating that entrepreneurs who succeeded failed their way to success: It's necessary to re-frame your failures quickly, and learn from them to turn them into successes. Amita also said that entrepreneurship can be a very effective way of solving problems and building something lasting.
Carol Nacy, reported on a survey of women entrepreneurs by mentioning that they were off the charts on learning agility and emotional intelligence. Others noted that women often have a slower impulse towards action ("I need to do three more things before I start a company and then I will... "), are often not good networkers, and many never actually close the deal.
Panelists agreed on the need for one to have entrepreneurship “in the DNA,” and to see the point on the horizon and head towards it. They spoke of the need to incorporate work life and home life, and to make enough time and enough passion to do what you love to do. Nevertheless, passion is necessary but not sufficient, and the panelists warned that ego has caused many an entrepreneur to "drink too much Kool-Aid" and become so attached to an idea that they couldn't take any feedback.
When asked where to find funding, the panelists mentioned that Maryland's TEDCO, Maryland Venture Fund, and their sister programs are an excellent source. They told prospective applicants to remember that the Maryland Biotech Investment Tax Credit provides up to $12 million with high net worth investors - giving them a 50% refund of their investment in a tax credit. In addition, Montgomery County may provide an additional 5-10%. They also reminded would-be biotech entrepreneurs that NIH Small Business (SBIR) funding is non-dilutive, so that's a great place to start out.
Overall it was a very informative, inspirational, and well organized event. Thanks to all our speakers, guests, members on program committee for the event planning, and WIB-DC/Baltimore Communications Committee member, Veronica J. Bailey, for sharing this post-event recap!