Boston Mountain Biotech is February’s featured IA client in Arkansas Business.
We’ve got more from BMB founder Ellen Brune, who took a business-plan idea and, well, ran with it. She’s now on course to potentially help save thousands of lives. BMB, by the way, has developed a method of protein purification for drugs used to treat diseases like cancer and diabetes.
Here’s Part 1 of some bonus Q-and-A with Ellen. Check back later this week for Part 2:
INOV8: Tell us about the origin of BMB.
Ellen: We started BMB in November of 2011 as part of Carol Reeves’ entrepreneurship class. The technology originated from the University of Arkansas’ Ralph E Martin Department of Chemical Engineering in which I am a PhD student. The technology was co-developed by me, Dr. Robert Beitle and Dr. Ralph Henry at the UofA, and Dr. Mohammad Ataai and Dr. Patrick Bartlow at the University of Pittsburgh.
Ricky Draehn [CEO and Ellen's dad] joined me in the startup to provide business leadership and financial expertise. We competed as a team in the various spring business plan competitions. BMB was further supported by the National Science Foundation’s I-Corp program. The I-Corp program selected 25 teams from various universities to undergo startup training with expert entrepreneur Steve Blank. The teams were awarded $25,000 to help with market research and to pay for our two 5-day ‘boot camps’ at Stanford University.
It was through this program that we were able to further vet our technology with companies in the industry and begin searching for customers and future partners.
INOV8: Tell us about your business-plan competition experiences and how they helped the startup grow.
Ellen: BMB went to Nebraska Innovation Challenge and won 1st place, Oregon’s New Venture Championship and placed 2nd, the Arkansas Governor’s Cup and placed 1st with $25,000, Venture Labs Innovation Challenge [Moot Corp, at UT in Austin], and the Donald W. Reynolds Tri-State Competition. In total, we won $50,000. The business plan competitions provided us an excellent opportunity to vet our business model and technology while growing as a team. Stuart Brune was also involved in the business competitions and provided his expertise in the science field.
INOV8: Explain exactly what BMB does.
Ellen: BMB is a contract research company that supplies Lotus™ designer cell lines that simplify protein purification. Pharmaceutical companies that start development with Lotus™ will have the ability to:
1. Compress development timeline by up to one third
2. Reduce manufacturing time and costs by up to half
3. Increase final product yield by at least 30%
4. Implement Lotus™ with their existing equipment
More to come later this week……