By Rex Smitherman
Copyright © 2012, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
Dr. Craig Shimasaki, president and CEO of Moleculera Labs Inc., serial entrepreneur and adviser to multiple teams in Oklahoma’s collegiate business plan competition, the Governor’s Cup, says vision begins with the way we look at the world.
“Everything we see that is man-made existed in the mind of someone before it ever came into being,” he said. “The challenge is to encourage, teach and inspire young entrepreneurs to think differently about what they see in the world around them, seeing solutions that connect to a problem.”
Recently, Shimasaki advised two Governor’s Cup teams from Oklahoma City University, including one that wrote a business plan around his company’s concept. Moleculera Labs won first place in the Undergraduate Division; Precision HealthTech placed third in the Graduate Division.
“I like helping the students understand that they don’t have to be expert at everything,” he said. “They have initiative, motivation and drive. What they need are guidelines, insight, experience and a little help.”
Moleculera Labs recently received a syndicated investment of more than $500,000 to create a scalable lab test to predict a patient’s likelihood of having Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococci (PANDAS), a form of autism spectrum disorder.
Moleculera Labs’ vision is to make this test readily available to identify the origin of a child’s disorder so the child can receive treatment that can reduce the symptoms, allowing the child to better function in society. He estimates Moleculera Labs will have a testing lab operational within the next six months.
“Without the stellar technology based on the research of our co-founder, Dr. Madeleine Cunningham at the University of Oklahoma, along with their willingness to transfer this technology, and the financial support of angels and other investors — some of whom are parents of PANDAS children — this wouldn’t be happening,” he said. “You can have all the ideas you want, but without support and technology, it’s like a car without an engine.”
Oklahoma is fortunate to have entrepreneurs such as Shimasaki who are committed to sharing what they have learned with our state’s up-and-coming entrepreneurs.
“All of us who have any success in leadership didn’t get there by ourselves,” he said. “We got there because other people spent time teaching and training us, giving us a break. It’s an obligation to share that wisdom and knowledge to help create a better place for everyone else.”
Shimasaki and other serial entrepreneurs are a critical component of Oklahoma’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and a sign of its continued growth.
Rex Smitherman is interim president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology. Contact Smitherman at [email protected].
DID YOU KNOW? The Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup business plan competition, which claims nearly 1,200 students from 26 campuses across Oklahoma as alumni and has awarded $1.5 million in cash prizes, scholarships and fellowships, is expanding for 2013 with a new Small Business Undergraduate division. To learn more, go to okgovcup.org.