In this second part of episode 4, RV Radio with Robinson Ventures continues the conversation with four members of the ThinkGenetic Leadership Team to focus the conversation on the day-to-day business and finding investment funding. Find out how new approaches — and the internet as it is today — can be used to uncover rare, genetic patients more efficiently than traditional marketing tactics alone leading to potentially life-changing treatments.
UPDATE: Miss Part 1? Click here to listen now.
[CO] Cian Robinson, Host, RV Radio
[TR] Tucker Robinson, Producer, RV Radio
[DJ] Dave Jacob, CEO, ThinkGenetic
[LB] Len Barker, President, ThinkGenetic
[DL] Dawn Laney, Chief Genetics Officer, ThinkGenetic
[RO] Ruth O’Keefe, VP Marketing and Advocacy, ThinkGenetic
[TR] You’re listening to Robinson Ventures radio where ingenuity meets innovation
[CR] Good afternoon, good morning, good evening, good night, wherever you may be. Thanks for joining us. We’re now listening to part two of the ThinkGenetic story. So in the first part of this episode we discussed the “why” behind ThinkGenetic and how truly a labor of love for Dave Jacob and his journey to diagnosis in a rare genetic condition turned into ThinkGenetic and so in this part of the episode we’re going to talk about the business behind ThinkGenetic. Dave at what point in time did you realize, “Okay, this is a potential business” and “How are we going to capitalize on this potential business” and “How are we going to get it off the ground”?
[DJ] Well I’ll talk about the business plan a little bit to get it started then Len can talk about the actual execution. So the whole start was I couldn’t get answers to my condition, I had no idea how many conditions there were or how many people there were that are worried about those kind of things, so when we were looking at building the business case for IBM at that time, I thought, “well let’s see what it looks like” and that’s when we found out there were 350 million people living with one of 7,000 rare genetic conditions and the important part was only 25% of them were diagnosed. The business kicker on that was that but each patient that was diagnosed and on treatment was worth four million dollars to the pharmaceutical company. So, that’s a big number and we thought, “Well we don’t know exactly how we can shorten that diagnosis journey but that’s the business! We’ve got to find a way to get from 25 to a higher number hopefully 50 or 75%.”
[LB] So our initial idea was to educate the internet and say “People are always looking for answers,” like I was, and they’ll come and they’ll look on the internet and if we can give them quality information there’s a business there and then we can charge hopefully for advertising and lots of volume on the site and whatnot and that turned out not to be the case. We were able to get some traffic and Ruth spent a lot of time with SEO trying to get people attracted to our site and then we realized that also trying to cover 7,000 conditions is a daunting task. So we settled on the ones for which there were either treatments or trials or studies and that’s where we began so we actually put up close to 300 conditions initially and they’re still there, that people on the internet can find those conditions can get educated but there’s no business case there to make money because it’s free to them to come to the site and look for answers. So we had to figure out how to pivot the business to get pharmaceutical companies interested in redirecting some of the $5 billion they spend every year on looking for these patients coming our way if we could find patients initially
[LB] We had this idea that if we put enough good information out there and we and we made our SymptomMatcher that we create and put on our website that can ask you a bunch of questions and figure out if you had one of these 300 or so conditions that we get a lot of sponsors and we could create a business just through sponsorships but then again start to realize that these are rare conditions after all and there’s only so many people you know searching on the internet looking for problems that have to do with rare conditions so the amount of traffic that end up coming to our site wasn’t high enough to really justify a big investment by pharma so we had to go back and look at a different way to find these patients.
[CR] Initially the problem statement and the problem you’re solving is pharma needs to find these patients for either treatment or trial they are having a hard time finding these patients and they’re spending and they’re spending a considerable amount of money to seek them out. In your value proposition back to pharma was “we will help you find those patients.”
[DJ]: That’s a true statement. The other part of helping them find those patients is it also gets their sales reps closer to them quicker because again their model that we were we’re competing with is that they have dedicated sales reps that knock on doctor stores saying “Have you seen anybody that looks like this?” and if you can imagine two or three hundred sales reps all looking for a different condition knocking on the doctor’s door – it doesn’t take long before the doctor doesn’t open his door anymore and so that’s not an effective way it works, I mean, they’re making a lot of money and they’re still getting more treatment so it’s not that they don’t find patients it’s just it’s a limiting factor the needle in the haystack kind of thing and they find one you know if they can find two patients in a year as a sales rep they’re a hero so it’s a it’s a tough problem to solve and and we knew that we could do better than that with machine learning and looking at information and getting patients to communicate with us but at that point, and in fact, we actually had a contract with the Shire when we were in the MassChallenge to do exactly that and that’s what they wanted to do and that’s now in 10 countries, so it works, it’s just a slow way to do it and if we really wanted to scale faster than we needed to look for other options and that was when the Accelerate South challenge came into being, and we were able to get involved in that and as you’ve have often told us , Cian, and you helped us pivot toward looking at medical records which are always sitting there, and we did a study with Dawn, our Chief Genetic Officer saying, “Can you find a patient if we give you the medical records and the time, can you find these patients?” and the answer was “Yes I can!” and she did that, and we realized, well if we can follow her around and start automating what she does and other genetic counselors, then we can build up these algorithms to the point that they’ll be successful and we can market that to pharma. The tougher part, initially, was they wanted us to do some sort of click for “find a patient” kind of model and that doesn’t work in that it’s too too small a number – you have to charge a big number every time you found a patient, and they weren’t comfortable with that. So, you have to turn it more into a marketing campaign, to say, “Doing exactly what you do today with your reps, except we can cover a lot more territory in a lot more conditions and a lot more quickly, and we’ll find these potential patients for you and get them in the healthcare system and get them diagnosed and on treatment.”
[CR]: So, product #1 was SymptomMatcher?
[CR]: And then taking what you develop in SymptomMatcher and pivoting it over to ingesting enterprise health records or medical record data and then that became the product FindEHR spelled like find EHR, right?
CR]: And it uses the same underlying algorithms to power both?
[CR]: So, Ruth, as the queen of marketing for ThinkGenetic – where are the challenges that you see, in first part with SymptomMatcher, and then pivoting into FindEHR, and now having two products to support in that way, I mean, what kind of marketing and campaigning do you look at for something like that?
[RO]: Yeah, I mean, a lot of it is driven by taking a look at what some of our clients are investigating in. So, one of the areas that we’ve been diving in, the most recently, is talking to our clients who did like a proof-of-concept or a trial with us, so we basically said, “Hey, we have this idea, we want to try it we’ll give you a lower price point, we’ll go out we’ll do it – we’ll find patients, you’ll have great value, but we’re going to learn along the way.” So, recently what we’ve been doing, which I think is really cool, is we’re going to them and saying, “Okay, so say we never did that, you know, how were you finding these these individuals before?” So, we knew from our previous research and our previous engagements that there was this sales rep model of going out, putting the ads on the internet, everyone’s heard them on the TV late nights, you know, all that good stuff, but what else do you do? Because since we started there’s been a lot of growth in technology and we needed to find out, this is especially more recently, what other tactics have they been using internally, and how can we supplement what they’re currently doing with with our system, and our products, and our tool base, and that’s when we brought our new business development person on to help us navigate that – because we know that tech is catching up, and you know, originally, we were like the first, the only, and we could we could lead the market with that, right – we’re the only ones focused on rare genetics, we’re the only one, you know, that really capitalized on this idea of utilizing genetic counselors in this automated way, and over time market changes, especially when it comes to tech. So, that’s really where we’re focusing a lot of our efforts now, is figuring out what these larger companies are doing internally and then also approaching the smaller pharmas, who maybe are only marketing or having clinical trials for one or two conditions, and saying “How can we supplement what they’re doing faster and more efficiently while still hitting a certain price point?” So, that’s really how we’re attacking it. Previously it was much more about SEO, and being found, and kind of this organic, advocacy relationship with the patients, and we thought “If we build it then pharma shall come” – if we build this system where we’re getting 20,000 – 30,000 hits on our website from patients why wouldn’t pharma want to be there? And it’s pivoted so much more than that, to be much more engaging, research-oriented, thought-provoking conversations with our current clients that we can expand it out to to find new clients.
[CR]: So you started with SymptomMatcher, you built it out, you’re marketing one way, and then you saw value to that, so you still have pharmaceutical companies that are using SymptomMatcher product, right?
[CR]: Right, and then you said, “Okay, now I’m going to pivot and market but it’s a total different conversation.
[RO]: Yeah, and, I mean, it was, we learned some really interesting things along the way too, I mean, by far still we still have, you know, volume coming to the site – patient-oriented – we start we’re still getting people reaching out to us asking questions, wanting to talk to genetic councils that we can refer out and say “We can’t give direct medical advice but we can do ABC” and still to this day the #1 requested question that people are finding us for, is basically, life expectancy, prognosis. It’s not necessarily “What are the symptoms?” or some of these other areas that we thought were going to be really engaging and start a dialogue. It really is, for all of these 350 conditions that we cover, the #1 question and answer is always “What’s the life expectancy?” And so that really had us pivot in the way that we were thinking that, yes, it’s amazing to have all this important information out there, but we have to find a different way of approaching this, so that people can have these conversations, and know how to have these conversations, with their healthcare providers, because obviously we can give them an answer in general terms but every case is so different when it comes to rare genetics that we had to find a way to encourage them to engage with their healthcare team – and I think SymptomMatcher and FindEHR are kind of our solution to that, if we can come at it from a different direction that the healthcare provider is a part of the discussion from the very beginning, opposed to forcing a patient to do all this research and come to their provider – so coming at it from two different ways.
[CR]: So Ruth, and I want to loop in Dawn on this, the importance of that statement, which is, you may be able to find the patient, you may be able to get the patient the information, but it’s that last mile problem – connecting that patient to a provider, I mean, where do you see ThinkGenetic solving that calculus?
[DL]: I would say the biggest thing about making the conversation work with a healthcare provider is making sure that they understand genetics could be an underlying root cause. So when you think about how do you talk with your provider about life expectancy, they have to first know that, you know, maybe there is something more to what they’re seeing than just a common disease and ThinkGenetic is all about opening the conversation that, “Hey, there are 7,000 new diseases out there and if you see a certain pattern of symptoms, you need to think about whether or not that pattern could be related to a genetic condition and if there is a genetic condition that might be impacting more than what you’re seeing” – it could be affecting you know their kidneys in a progressive way, it could be affecting their brain in a progressive way, and there might be a primary therapy that could completely change the calculus of “What is my life expectancy?”
[CR]: So, we’re still, and you’re still, working on that last mile connection problem – you’re very good at identifying these folks and calculus is now out how do I push that information either through the patient to the provider or perhaps even directly to the provider in some way shape or form.
[DL]: As you know this is a pincher movement, right? You got to involve the patient. You got to involve the health care provider – and if you get both of them thinking on the same page before they’ve even said the word together, wow, isn’t that life-changing? Right? Because then they’re both in the right place to have the conversation, could this be genetic from the patient side, the doctor’s already done a little looking like oh this could be genetic and if they go with good together add on the same page then that can increase quality of life, decrease diagnosis time, decrease time to treatment, like that’s pretty amazing.
[CR]: And I have the privilege of being able to ask loaded questions because I do have a little insight into what’s going on at ThinkGenetic. So, all right, so now we’ve got the business case right? So we’ve got, you you’ve identified the the problem statement, which is having people get identified with a genetic condition, specifically, a rare genetic condition, you’ve identified the problem from the client side, which and pharma is you they need to find those folk, you’ve gotten two products out in the world that are SymptomMatcher and FindEHR, they’re doing a fine job at bringing that to the table, so now I’m going to ask Len the question of: you’re now having to go out and grow this company and capitalize. So, talk to me about your fundraising efforts Len, and what’s going on there.
[LB]: Dave is really the one in charge of all fundraising but certainly I’m cozied up next to him all the time – and we have done coming out of our incubators we we get funding through various Innovation Funds and now we are spending our time continuing to share that message but we’re at the stage where we really need to put revenue on the books for our investors to see that they want to give us the big dollars. So we’re spending our time getting revenue in the door and I would say, back to your last point too, the reason that we are right on the cusp – you know on the surface of things you might think that what we’re doing at ThinkGenetic is fairly straightforward – anyone could walk in and look at these genetic conditions and write some simple algorithm to figure out whether someone has a condition or not but it’s far from easy or we wouldn’t have been doing it so for so long, and the hardest part is that part we were just talking about, which is that last mile. We’re really making it difficult for anyone to follow us into here and I think that’s one of the reasons the investors are so keen to invest in us, as soon as we prove that we can get plenty of revenue, so, we’re spending a lot of time working with data partners and going directly to healthcare systems or to ones where patients are opting in – we’re finding unique ways to actually get the information back to the healthcare providers in the next few months we expect to see some more movement in that area.
[CR]: Yeah, revenue does cure all right?
[DJ]: I would jump in here too to say that I thought when I finally got my diagnosis after all these years, that everybody would be like me, when you tell me the information I need to know I’m going to go beat up the healthcare system until I get what I need and get into treatment and that’s not the way it works. There are all these other pressures that get in the way. One on the healthcare side – you may have medical professionals that have never heard of this condition and they don’t know what to do with it. You’ve got a healthcare system that hasn’t worked with it before so they’re trying to figure out, “well what what do I do with this?” and there are cost implications for treatment – you know the drug is not inexpensive – and then you have the claims processing part that’s going on, “I don’t know if I want to spend all this money on this treatment.” I’m always of the patient that everything should be for my benefit to make me well and that really is the goal of the system but there are all these other pressures that influence how that decision gets made and I had no idea of the complexity of that part and that’s what we’re seeing, is that we get right to the finish line and say here here’s the patient you need to test them, diagnose them, and get them in treatment. How hard is that? And it turns out it’s different because you can’t just throw them into the system – there has to be some education, there has to be some understanding, there has to be the business case, around what’s in it for the various components – be that the claims processing part or the hospital system or the physician. And I think we’ve built a strong case there to show them how it could work but it’s just getting that message all the way to the the finish line. So we were so focused on finding them that we hadn’t focused yet on “Oh, how do we get them actually into treatment ? What do we have to do to push the system along?” – so that’s something we’ve learned over the last few years as to the part that keeps slowing us down.
[CR]: So you guys went out and did a seed round, right?
[CR]: And you were heading towards a Series A, and have chosen instead to take a step back and do a bridge to Series A given the current economic climate. So, given that you’ll raise this bridge round and move into your Series A, I mean, where do you think you’re going to be spending those – both revenue dollars, as well as investor dollars- to growth ThinkGenetic?
[LB]: Well, one of the things Dave has long said is that we don’t have enough people out there telling our story to potential customers, so we need to expand our business development area, for sure, and we also, given the fact that we’re going to be ramping up revenue, we have to beef up our our ability to deliver the results to these studies, so we need to add a couple a few more genetic counselors and IT staff, as well, so, that’s what we’re currently focused on. We’ve been we’ve been doing the best we can with the funds we have, but adding significant amount of funds will make this this growth a lot faster.
[CR]: Gotcha. So I’m going to switch and shift gears on you and I’m going to ask much more of a – I think people are understanding where you’re at, they understand the business model, they understand that, you know, pharmaceutical companies will pay you to find patients either running records, on a number of records, they pay you per record, or they pay you per 100,000 records, and you know, they’ll pay you to stand up a white labeled site, or a, you know, private site for them, that the patients will come through, so they’re paying you for that, we understand that. So this is going to be a personal question – So, Dave, Dawn, and Ruth, you’re all related, right?
[DJ]: So I’ve been told
[CR]: And that relation is, Dawn and Ruth, you’re Dave’s daughters, is that correct?
[DL]: That’s correct.
[DL]: Just look at our ears!
[CR]: Well, it’s a podcast Dawn, so it’s kind of hard to look at ears.
[DL]: Picture ears – they’re all the same!
[CR]: Honestly, what’s it been like trying to run a family business to help save Dad’s life?
[DJ]: Well, it’s interesting because Ruth has been our marketing person long before ThinkGenetic, so when she came out of college with a marketing degree and had experience on TV and advertising, we were in the process of hiring that position and I talked to Len about “I have this daughter that might be good but I’m not going to interview her because I could never live with that, so you’ll have to interview her and decide if you want her.” And that turned out to be a a good hire, I think, over the years. And then when we got into the genetics thing and IBM showed up and it’s like “Well where are we going to get all this medical knowledge, you know?” And again, I said to Len, “Hey, I have this other daughter, you know, I don’t know what we’ll do next but I don’t have any more daughters, so I’m going to run out.”
[DL]: You got a son.
[DJ]: I do have a son, he was part of it too for a while. And Dawn having the the medical background, it was just a, made a natural fit. I don’t think we ever imagined when we were starting ThinkGenetic that it would become a family business because we were in such different places – Dawn’s doing her Lysosomal Storage Diseases in Emory and doing clinical trials, and of course Ruth doing marketing for us, and that was fine, it’s just like “how does this all come together?” and it just my diagnosis kind of brought everybody together to try and solve the problem and then it made sense to take it to the next step and it just kind of just keep pulling people in.
[DL]: I would say it adds an extra bit of passion to what we do because it’s not just that you’ve got a business and you’re trying to make it succeed as a startup – it’s that your whole family is also involved in this business and it’s something we’ve decided and as a family we’re doing it, you know. So it’s kind of it’s kind of interesting because it adds another layer of it and I think we did have to put some rules around when we were going to talk business because otherwise every social call becomes a business meeting and there are some people who don’t want to listen to us talk about our business stuff all Christmas. I don’t know why.
[LB]: I would also say that anyone who’s been involved with startup knows that there are many times when you just say, “I’m going to give up. This is too hard.” And with the family connection and that that reasoning to keep going it’s a lot harder to give up. So, you just keep going!
[CR]: So, Len, I’m gonna flip the question around back at you. What’s it like being like, the CEO, the head of the organization, that is really and truly founded by like an entire family. I mean, I’m asking this for a reason because people who are listening to this podcast, I mean, I don’t know how many people start businesses with their family members and to be honest with you it does not go as well as it’s gone for you guys, right? It’s inevitably a giant mess and it devolves and in fact creates rifts in families, so you know, I think it’s interesting that you have this core group of folk that are all family but then also then, Len, there’s a core group of folks that aren’t, and you’re like the head of that core group, right?
[LB]: Right. Well I would say that this is a unique situation because I’ve worked and live around them for many, many, years before we even started to ThinkGenetic, and so do the other core people. I think that sets us apart from is that they’re a special family, I mean, they you know, there’s not too many families that are as close, that I’ve seen, that are as close as they are. They get to, think it’s crazy, they live all over the country and they get together all the time – I don’t know how they do that. It’s not as difficult as, if you had like, if I had been brought in as the President say, you know, two years into ThinkGenetic and I’ve been plopped in the middle of this family thing would be one thing. Every family couldn’t do it but they’re special.
[RO]: Well Len is now part of our family, we adopted him, so he can’t go anywhere anyway if he wanted to.
[DL]: That’s right, you’re locked in, Uncle Len.
[LB]: I’ve tried.
[CR]: I was waiting for the Uncle Len to come out, I was waiting for that.
[RO]: Yeah, well, I mean, it’s true, because, you know, when I think of when I first started, he was definitely my mentor because you know, he had run businesses, he had his MBA, all this stuff – I was fresh out of college, you know, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, new mom, all that good stuff, and so he was my mentor, and it’s been interesting, over time, that while our families have come closer, it’s interesting, to kind of start to have this relationship, where, you know, he’s seen my kids be born – I mean not in the room – I just mean, like, he’s grown along with the family, so it does, it does make you, I think, more intertwined too, you know, and there’s a respect factor there. You get to a point where it’s like, you know, “oh, I don’t have to send my timesheets in,” there’s just a respect that everyone’s going to do what they’re going to do and that’s because, you know, not only are we connected from family, but just over time you establish those relationships and the respect for each other and then, as you bring more people into the organization, you extend that out. So, I think that we try to be really aware of when people are coming in, not overly doing the “I’m the sister. I’m the dad. I’m the mom. I’m this. I’m that.” and just treat everybody with the same level of respect as if they were in our family – and we’re very trusting that way, and until they give us a reason not to, we’re going to assume that they’re part of the fold and they’re just as passionate as us and and that’s how now we have an Uncle Cian too because we extend that invitation to everybody.
[CR]: So do you think, hey, so Ruth I’m going to keep going with that, do you think that cultural construct can scale with the company as it does?
[RO]: Oh gosh, I hope so. I think there’s certain elements that you know we firm up over time, you know, I think, that there are certain elements that because we all knew each other so well, we just assumed, and so there’s, so, I think it’s important, you know, when you think about the family company, but then you get to that corporate level, right, and that’s where we’re, you know, one day we’re hoping to go, right? You either, you think about exit strategy, like maybe we’ll get bought, maybe we’ll get sold into a certain dynamic, at the same time you hear those larger companies like “We’re the family business” and you go “bleck” because you know that there’s no way when you have millions and millions of employees or there’s so much money coming in, like something changes, right, there’s a shift that happens, and then, it maybe it is a family for some but not all. And so I’m really hopeful, that we’ll be able to continue this in a way of a culture around in the business that everyone feels like they have respect and we don’t lose that element of our mission.
[DL]: We also, you know, we have a little black humor in our family, and that, you know if something’s going particularly wrong, we like to joke about it, and I think that’s something that we’ve got to check in with people as they join on to make sure they’ve got that level of gallows humor, right? Because I think being in medicine and then our family is not, it’s not like we’re a picture-perfect family that nothing’s ever gone wrong and we’ve never had any issues, like, we have just developed the skill of resilience and part of that is humor where sometimes maybe we shouldn’t have humor – we for sure do it. So I think part of it, as we grow our business, is making sure that we stay you know, we have that level of, I don’t know, what would you call it?
[RO]: Professionalism, you know?
[CR]: And you’re all grounded. You’re grounded, in this, right?
[RO / DJ]: Yes!
[CR]: You’ve used the word, Dawn, you’ve used resilient, and then, you know, Len, you also use that sort of similar construct of “stick-to itness” and not giving up. I think people, you know, they get into being an entrepreneur and they’re “Oh, we’re gonna go out and raise money” and it’s glitz and shine to them but what they really don’t understand, is the amount of grit and grind that occurs, you know, in the actual day-to-day operation. I mean, Dave, is it easy to go out and raise a seed round and a bridge note and a series A?
[DJ]: No and I mean the thing that I learned in sales early on and I had another career before ThinkGenetic, was that a “No” is not a “No” – it just means you need to get to the next call because there’s going to be that call that’s going to go the right way, so you can’t get discouraged because this one didn’t work out the way you wanted. You keep telling your story and if you’re passionate about it there are people that will help you and it just takes time and continuing to do that so I never feel like I’m selling something, I feel like I’m telling them a passion and if they buy into the passion then I don’t have to sell anything, it’s like, well, you get it, do you want to help me do this? That’s true with the family and that’s true with all the other people that have joined us over time – when you you figure our first big investor, other than the grant money we got through Dawn Emory, was my landlord then that was just a personal relationship from a lot of years and he’d had some health things, and when when he heard what we were trying to do, he said “Oh I get it. I want to help.” That came out of nowhere, right? I never even talked about that part of it with him, other than, we were friends, in addition to him being my landlord in the office of our former company, so we had space with him for, I don’t know, 15 years, I guess.
[DL]: Ironically, Ted also knew us really well, so we had our relationship with our initial really strong investor as a personal relationship within the family, as well, so we just adopt people as we go. That’s just how we roll.
[CR]: I do believe you called them “Ted Talks” before “TEDTalks” were popular.
[DJ]: Yes! Yeah, every week, yeah.
[CR]: What question or questions haven’t I asked that I should have asked?
[RO]: So if you want to make a donation, it’s www.thinkgenetic.com
[CR]: There we go, marketing, marketing every time, go find us on thinkgenetic.com
[RO]: .com, yeah!
[TR]: Make sure to check out the links below.
[DL]: We’ll send you a tote bag – million dollars, you get a tote bag!
[DJ]: and a mug!
[CR]: with Dave’s face on it!
[DL]: Oh my God, we could totally sell those
[CR]: The handles are two ears, right?
[DL]: Right, and then at the bottom it would say “Your father”
[RO]: Oh my gosh, yes, that is what, so when you’re asking, Cian, about the family connection – there’s definitely times where we’ll have a little side chat after meeting and Dawn and I will just go “Your father,” – “Nope, your father” – “Nope, your father.”
[DL]: It’s good to have support, yes,
[RO]: Yes, I remember there was one point when, I want to say it was like, Dave had called me, so as you know Dave is a big idea guy, Len has always been my direct report, right, and so Dave would call me with these ideas and then I’d call Len and go, “So, do I do something about this or not?” Like one time he said “We need to fly a banner over Fenway Park , you know, showcasing our idea” whatever and so I called Len, they go, “Does he actually want me, do you want me to actually look into this? You know, I was still young and fresh and he’s like, “Oh, I’ll call him.” I wait patiently, to say, okay how’s this going to work out.
[CR]: So, you’ve got, you’ve got Dave is the big idea guy, you’ve got Len as the ops and day-to-day guy, you’ve got Ruth you’re marketing, and so you’re both day-to-day as well as vision and creative, and then you’ve got Dawn you’re the Chief Genetic Officer so you’re the clinical person as well as some big ideas and some creative.
[DL]: Yes, and I’m also the bossy one, who has to steer my father away from pitfalls related to saying things about genetics because sometimes you get really excited about a genetic thing and, I’m like, “Actually.” So, I feel like half my life is going, “Well just to clarify.”
[LB]: Yeah, right!
[CR]: That’s spectacular but you you get there right? And again for folks who are listening you need that dynamic in a company right because if it wasn’t like Dave wanting a banner over Fenway Park, nobody would even think of that, or Dave, “Yes we could do that,” and Dawn going “huh, wait a minute we can kind of this.”
[DL]: Yeah, I say, “Yes we can do that but I’d just like to remind you that we’ve been first to get IRB approval,” you know? I mean, you know, my goal is not to dampen his art from these things, my goal is just to make sure that we have that back and forth. Part of genetics is all about trying to get the most specific information, it’s going to be most useful, and I do need my dad to be like “Yeah, yeah, yeah, details, let’s think about the big thing first.” So it’s a good push and pull that you need at every company otherwise you’re not going to grow and change, you know, we wouldn’t have been able to Pivot as much as we have to come to this like perfect double pincher solution, if we didn’t have this back and forth between ideas and reality.
[CR]: So Dawn, that Christmas, where you are all, you’ve got yourself certified as a phlebotomist essentially, right?
[DL]: Yeah, yeah.
[CR]: You’re pulling you’re you’re pulling blood out all your family members right and you find out that indeed there’s something going on with your dad, did you ever envision that what is it a decade later, maybe, is it under a decade?
[DL]: Under a decade
[CR]: Yeah yeah yeah that you’d have ThinkGenetic with like, you know, all of you all in the company, employees, major pharmaceutical companies as clients, raising, I mean was there any inkling
[DL]: No, but I should have known because my dad’s original company I worked as internal sales when I was in grad school and it paid for my rent, so, I should have just known that someday I’d get pulled back and I’d get to work with everybody again. It’s a full circle life, you know, you’re always going to end up back where you began you know.
[LB]: We haven’t really mentioned at all our very talented get small staff people who are actually out there creating our product. Our genetic counselor Jessica, and our data scientist, Corey, and our other developer, Elena – they were attracted to our company, you know, it could be risky as start-up, you know, going to a very small company, but they’re attractive because they like this family messsage and they liked our vision.
[CR]: And then you’ve got Rene and Carol and, you know, work in business development
[LB]: Right, right.
[CR]: I mean, it’s just, it’s a great story to tell that, you went from, you know, solving a family challenge, you know, like we posted in the first episode, “Can love create innovation? You know, “Can love solve a problem?” – and it sure can. And you guys are the embodiment of that. So thank you. And thank you for giving me the privilege to ride along on this journey – it’s been quite an experience, a lot of fun, and I you know and I can tell you a hugely appreciative of you guys and everything you’re doing – it’s good stuff.
[DJ / DL]: Thank you, Cian.
[DL]: We appreciate all you do, too, you are amazing and help us coalesce our ideas, sometimes, in ways that are really amazing.
[CR]: I’m bossy #2.
[DL]: Yeah bossy #2! Bossy’s unite – high five! It’s all about being Gen X!
[CR]: Us Gen Xers have to come in and manage the Millennials and the Boomers!
[DL]: And the Boomers – that’s right!
[TR]: And if you’d like to learn more about the amazing work that ThinkGenetic is doing, you can find all the links in the description below, and as always, thank you for listening to Robinson Ventures radio.