Genrix (formerly Insilico Scientific) works at the forefront of cancer bioinformatics and precision medicine.
While personalized medicine is dramatically changing cancer care and drug development, the technology is still at its infancy and we are far from being able to fulfill its promise. Personalized medicine can be used to improve the success rate of experimental drugs, and guarantee that patients are given the anticancer drugs that will respond best to their personal genetic makeup. Genrix has developed an algorithm to help drug companies optimize clinical trial outcomes and get more drugs to the market. My vision for the future is that cancer patients will walk into a drug store, have their genome sequenced in real time on their Fitbit, a 3d printer will print a customized cancer drug based on your DNA – and the drugs will work.
Entrepreneurialism Born at the Rady School
When I was an undergrad studying computer science at Northeastern University in Boston back in 2003, nobody ever talked about startups or innovation. Well, ten years and 3000 miles later, the Rady School helped me by introducing me to the concept of the innovation economy. I was stubborn, but I slowly started to understand how the world had changed since my undergrad. It wasn’t until I sat down with Martha Dennis (Founder and Vice President of Engineering at Pacific Communication Sciences and member of the Rady School Dean’s Advisory Council) and she explained the genesis of the Rady School of Management that everything clicked for me. I realized how the Rady School itself is a startup, and she told me how the school started, as I’m sure many great startups have, with nothing more than a conference call.
She told me how there was a huge need for entrepreneurial leaders coming out of the San Diego area to commercialize the discoveries made by our brilliant scientists, and how the Rady School was created to solve that need. The Rady School is crucial to the San Diego innovation ecosystem because we need leaders to come out of San Diego, not simply come to San Diego from other schools in the US and the rest of the world.
That night, I went home and started working on my first pitch deck for Genrix, and pitched to my classmates at the Lab to Market pitch fest that weekend. Part of me thought that Genrix wouldn’t make it further than that first 15-minute pitch. But just one week after my conversation with Martha, I had my first team member.
Lab to Market
The Lab to Market program was essential for Genrix and allowed us to graduate with a world class business plan, pitch, and gave us the skills we needed to start effectively showing Genrix to a wider audience. I see entrepreneurs making mistakes all the time that we learned not to do on day one of our Lab to Market class.
At one point we had five Rady School MBAs working on Genrix. I’m not sure if there is another program in the world like Lab to Market that can bring people together to form a startup in this way. Every day was a chance to learn something new, and there was a continuous feedback loop of presenting our ideas, receiving feedback, refining our idea, and presenting again.
The Rady School’s StartR accelerator allowed us to continue the process of iterative improvement after Lab to Market was over. The experience made us think big, and helped us move from an academic project into something real. The weekly discussions we had with experts Dr. Lada Rasochova and Kim David King, being able to meet with a group of like minded entrepreneurs, and freely and openly communicate our high points and low points of the week in an open, honest, and nurturing environment was invaluable. Compare this to the “Shark Tank” like mentality of competition and winner takes all that is so common in the startup world.
Now that we have graduated from StartR, my cofounders joke that we are continuously “unlocking achievements”. If you had told me a few years ago that I would be working on unlocking the secrets of life, pitching to billionaires, and flying to the Silicon Valley, I would not have believed you. The Rady School, Lab to Market, and StartR have been unbelievably transformative for Genrix, and people are starting to take notice. Thank you so much Rady, Lab to Market, and StartR!
More on the Rady School’s StartR Accelerator
StartR is a six-month, nonprofit accelerator designed to help Rady School students and alumni to create profitable companies based on their innovative ideas. The program focuses on hands-on company development and teams are mentored by experienced entrepreneurs. In the last three years, 80% of StartR’s teams have been incorporated.
Want to learn more about the Rady School of Management’s innovative and entrepreneurship-focused MBA program? Download our MBA insights eBook, featuring where alumni work, support available for student entrepreneurs at Rady and more.
Andrew LeBlanc (’15) is a Rady School alumni and the CEO of Genrix.