Summary: Marija Vrljic, Ph.D., is the co-founder and CEO of Scalmibio, an early-stage biotechnology startup that developed a transformational technology focused on oncology applications. We talk about the inspiration for launching the startup,...
Summary: Marija Vrljic, Ph.D., is the co-founder and CEO of Scalmibio, an early-stage biotechnology startup that developed a transformational technology focused on oncology applications. We talk about the inspiration for launching the startup, how she was able to bootstrap the company, raised non-dilutive funds which ultimately led to being acquired in October, 2020.
- ScalmiBio is a startup that was born when Marija was diagnosed with thyroid cancer
- Technology: Antibody prodrugs that could target only cancer tissues and remain inactive around healthy tissues.
- Startup was based on unique insights (around protein folding and publicly available protein databases) that came from deep understanding of work during graduate and postdoctoral research.
- Founding story
- Bar for founding a startup for scientists with data packages from their research is much lower. In terms of fundability- In vivo model as a proof of concept seems to be more fundable for life sciences startups.
- SBIR/STTR funding
Small Business Transition Grant For Early Career Scientist:
NCI SBIR Concept Award
NCI SBIR writing assistance program: https://sbir.cancer.gov/programseducation/aap?cid=eb_govdel
- Writing out a grant gives clarity and helps builds a business case
- The whole scientific field would say that the technology might not work because there was not enough data
- Talking to folks (once you filed provisional patent) in the industry usually helps entrepreneurs understand potential issues on both the technology and business fronts.
- You need to have a lead product before talking about platform plays
- Raising VC funds to take a product to the market might not always be the fastest way. Working as a part of a bigger company with the right resources
- Recruited by Pat Brown as one of the first scientists to work at Impossible Foods
- Understanding the concept of scaling and costs/pricing is super important as you embark on the startup journey
- It is hard to stay competitive- You have to move fast and get better results than the competition
- Network with engineers, law students, MBA students and others while in grad school/postdoc- a valuable skill!