How did I go from having nothing more than the desire to start my own business to being Co-Founder of a startup that won the Coller Competition in a matter of eight months?
“It’s all about who you know.”
We’ve all heard it many times and even subscribe to the philosophy, but how are you supposed to transform the list of people you know to suddenly encompass cutting edge scientists, experienced investors, entrepreneurs, and generally high-caliber people? I was surprised to discover there is an easy answer.
The Cambridge MBA immediately connected me with 200+ of the most impressive people, I am now lucky enough to call my peers. We formed an Entrepreneurship Special Interest Group (or SIG) more than 40 people strong. With this many people on the lookout for entrepreneurial opportunities, I was quickly connected to Nucleate, an accelerator operating at the cutting edge of science. There, I met John Heap, a professor at the University of Nottingham with several successful spinouts, Noah Sprent, a PhD at Imperial College London, and Zoe Woods, an MBA from the University of Oxford. Together, we formed Change Bio, a company with the potential to massively mitigate methane emissions while simultaneously producing high-value products at a lower cost.
A friend in the MBA cohort and successful entrepreneur, Phillip Winter, heard about Change Bio and informed me about the Coller Startup Competition. This is a competition with the sole focus of eliminating factory farming in our lifetime funded by the legendary Jeremy Coller and hosted by the Cambridge Judge Entrepreneurship Centre. Our pitch was on producing less expensive Albumin, which is currently a bottleneck for the Cultivated Meat industry in their quest to achieve cost parity with traditional meat. Thanks to excellent support and coaching from mentors Leon Gibson, Ann Davidson, and Jack Davies, we were able to win the £100,000 prize, shortly followed by the £200,000 Nucleate Venture Prize!
Getting funding has turned dreams to reality and given us a real shot at changing the world. When I look back, it’s a chain of serendipitous episodes all being driven by “who I know.” The reason I know all these people traces back to the decision to pursue a Cambridge MBA. I find it hard to believe a person with entrepreneurial ambitions could find a better place to build a professional network. And to find a place to make better friends – nearly impossible.