How did I get to be CEO of a Biotech company?
21 January 2019
Blog written by Linda Dijkshoorn
I have always had a peculiar mind-set. When someone asks me if I can do something, even if I had never done it before, I always say ‘yes’. Because why not? I am a fast learner, and if I make a mistake, that is just human. I put my head down and try to master the skill as fast as possible. This allowed me to dream big.
I dreamt of becoming an inventor, entrepreneur and scientist. As a kid, I kept wandering around nature, catching bugs and making witches soups. In high school that evolved to setting up an axolotl terrarium in my biology class and recording “flashy” chemical experiments in chemistry class besides joining numerous extracurricular clubs that taught me a great many skills. A fascination with beta sciences became quite apparent.
The university of choice became de Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam where I studied Biomedical Sciences Bsc. Microscopes, DNA, amazingly complicated machines and learning so much regarding micro-cosmos that is unseen and all around us. I enjoyed the fundamental courses the most such as biochemistry, cell biology and microbiology. Which made the choice for my masters quite simple, being a master’s in systems biology or molecular cell biology. Due to my internship supervisor’s knowledge of my mathematical skills, I did not choose systems biology…
During my masters, I started an enterprise where university students would tutor high school students in their own discipline. This was quite a lucrative business with over 70 customers and 18 students in my employ. This was my first round in the ring of entrepreneurship. The adventure entrepreneurship brings, the fast pace and the opportunity to create and work in a team are incredibly addictive to me. Right then and there I decided “my dream is to set up a biotech company”. I just had no clue in what.
To become an entrepreneur in biotech you need to have a good idea, knowledge of a specific field and the experience to be trusted by your customers. The logical step was a PhD, turning myself into an expert. I moved to Groningen for a PhD position in synthetic biology, which is basically a training to become a biological engineer. My PhD was a struggle; I have to be honest. My character is not suited for a PhD, working stubbornly on your own on one topic.
During my PhD, I met a lot of PhD’s, who were extremely talented, smart and likeminded. I joined VentureLab North for one of their boot camp weekends to get back in the entrepreneurship game. Inspiration was the key. I came with an idea, that got shot to pieces and left with an even greater idea, through people that asked the right questions. In this case professor of entrepreneurship Aard Groen.
Next was the task to find a team. I knew that for the idea that I was brewing in my mind, I needed a lot more knowledge and expertise. I pitched my idea to two colleagues and friends. They were both astonished. The idea was so simple, why was no one doing it this way?
The idea: creating micro-organisms for industrial scale production of high value chemicals using a range of metabolic modelling techniques to increase success rate and decrease time, waste, man-power and carbon footprint.
The team joined up for another Venture Lab weekend, to see if we enjoyed working together and how viable this plan is. We ended the weekend with the shared 3rd place. In the following months, we worked hard to build up our business model and technology strategy. In addition to that, we managed to have an angel investor join our team and broaden our network.
EV Biotech kicked off in June 2018. EV Biotech is the realisation of that dream combined with my passion for the creation of a sustainable society. I believe that with the current technologies, we are able to achieve a sustainable society now, but that takes revolutionary steps in many very conservative markets. I strive that EV Biotech will become such a revolutionising force.
If you want it, educate, motivate and challenge yourself. It is all possible if you like the work you do.
We want to thank Linda, for writing an interesting blog! Do you want to share your story with us, or if you want to participate to the community in any other way, please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org or +31 630076674