The MBI on the road in the USA, 29 May - 3 June 2016
By Johan de Rooij, Exbiome BV, participant MBI Life Sciences & Health 2015-2016
My trip started with a flight from Amsterdam to Boston. 7 hours to relax before an intensive week started immediately upon arrival on Sunday afternoon with drinks and dinner on the famous Harvard Square.
The official program began the next morning with 3 East Coast days mostly dedicated to our venture presentations. Day 1 was a training day on story telling in the US. Hosted and organized by the Dutch Consulate in the impressive Cambridge Innovation Center in central Boston. Day 2 started at Harvard Business School: a very interactive lecture by Dr. Noam Wasserman about “founders dilemma’s”. Facts and figures about the influence of gender, age and culture on the values of entrepreneurs and what issues to reflect on when founding a company. In the afternoon, the pressure was on: Pitching for a Shark Tank organized by “The Capital Network”, followed by a networking event with business angels. Reaping the fruits of the training day, we left the magnificent building of Nutter, McClennen & Fish on the harbor-front of Boston, in high spirits and loaded with business cards and “action points” to follow up. On our way to the extravaganza of sleepless New York City.
In their offices on Madison avenue, we were crash-coursed on day 3 by Omnicon on how to convey the science of our business in a clear, concise and compelling manner. It was impressive and useful to see how that changed our presentations in only a few hours’ time. A few hours was all we got in NYC, because we had planes to catch to California. A sad moment because the group, that had become very close in these 3 days, was about to be split between San Francisco and Irvine. The long flight to Irvine was used by many of us to redeem some of the sleep we missed in those short East-Coast nights between evening drinks and morning sessions.
Together with the change from the fast-moving East-coast to the laid-back West-coast atmosphere, the focus of the course changed from presentation to business model on day 4 and 5. Will your finance plan work? Is your regulatory strategy sound? Do you control your production line? The excellent Octane launch pad panel at UC Irvine evaluated the venture presentations on 5 main points and provided immediate quantitative feedback and personal advice. Marketing plans and regulatory strategies were discussed in panel and breakout sessions with experienced subject matter experts. Irvine made a big effort to advertise itself as a fertile breeding ground for start-up ventures and succeeded convincingly. My personal highlights of these days were the excellent marketing lecture by Dominique Spadafore and the inspiring visit to the Stem Cell Center. Another highlight was dinner at Laguna beach: California sunset, smooth pacific waves, great Mexican food. It’s good to do business there!
End then it almost suddenly ended with a traditional certificate ceremony at UC-Irvine on Friday night. It has been a unique experience. A year of scattered lectures, workshops and preparation sessions, culminating in a condensed week of lessons from and contacts with a host of experienced and inspiring people from international life sciences. A week in which common interests were discovered and expanded between participants on business as well as personal levels. A week after which I left inspired and motivated to take my venture as well as my personal ambitions to “the next level”.