“Beware of the unknown-unknowns. When we understand what it is we don’t know, we can ask for specific help. When we don’t understand what it is that we don’t know, we get surprised. When you are a startup company, that’s not a good thing.”
This wisdom came from Dr. Craig Shimasaki, serial entrepreneur and President and CEO of Moleculera Labs, Inc. We were speaking with him recently about his experience advising multiple teams in the Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup over several years.
“I like helping teams avoid having to learn the things I had to learn, all over again,” Dr. Shimasaki said. “When they ask for specific guidance, I don’t always tell them what specifically to do; I give them principles and concepts because entrepreneurship is never a straightforward prescriptive path. That is something any entrepreneur needs to understand before they start.”
Dr. Shimasaki’s book, The Business of Bioscience: What Goes into Making a Biotechnology Product, has been an excellent resource for Governor’s Cup teams dealing with bio-related start-up projects.
The book provides a comprehensive description of what goes into making a biotechnology product and building a biotechnology company and is organized to be useful to a wide range of audiences, from novice to the experienced biotechnology executive.
The Business of Bioscience also offers practical “how-to” answers and can serve as a reference resource for scientists, educators, and investors.
“A lot of entrepreneurial learning arises from trying to come up with the creative solutions you need,” says Dr. Shimasaki. “The goal is to recognize the objective and stay on course in spite of any adjustments that come when starting your business. If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there. Many times entrepreneurs follow the path of least resistance, and that isn’t the best way for technology companies to make progress.”
Last year Dr, Shimasaki coached two Governor’s Cup teams, Moleculera Labs, which placed first in the Undergraduate Division, and Precision Health Tech, third place Graduate Division winner. It was a mutually beneficial experience.
“We encouraged the students to talk with our customers — in the biotech world, those are patients, physicians and payers. They went back and forth and found information that the company didn’t yet have available,” said Dr. Shimasaki.
“We also benefited from the comments and questions of the judges, who examined the business plan as an investor and asked the same hard questions an investor would ask,” he said.
Dr. Shimasaki’s belief on leadership and giving back to the entrepreneurial ecosystem is straightforward and clear.
“When you recognize, and are grateful to, the people who have helped you along your career path, you can freely give back and make yourself available to help others, and hopefully help change their lives,” he said. “Oklahomans are good at giving back and Oklahoman’s have an entrepreneurial spirit”