What Entrepreneur Means In Microbiology With Victoria Holden, PhD
Updated: Sep 24, 2021
What Entrepreneur Means In Microbiology?
Entrepreneurship may seem far from being a microbiologist. But what entrepreneur means in microbiology may surprise you. These two career paths are actually quite similar. So before we dive into how to become an entrepreneur let's discuss what entrepreneur means in microbiology.
What entrepreneur means in the scope of microiology is a lot of different things. This may look like opening your own start-up where you develop a microbial product that might aid in human health, degrade plastics, help produce more food or anything else you can think of. We often stress that microbes have a limitless potential to aid humanity, but who discovers and harnesses this potential? Well, it's entrepreneurs, those with a scientific background and an idea just crazy enough it might work.
Scientists turning to entrepreneurship is a relatively new and growing career path. A decade or two ago it was pretty much expected that if you get a Ph.D. you would become a professor. But now PhDs are needed everywhere and a Ph.D. with an idea can quickly develop into a prosperous business.
So don’t allow the norms to deter you from your dreams.
Salary Expectations Of Entrepreneurs and Consultants
Now that we understand a little about what entrepreneur means in microbiology, what are some of the expectations? As an entrepreneur or a consultant, you may play many different roles and you have no clear career path. You could start as the founder of a company and then sell that company and become a scientist at another biotech company or start another company.
As a consultant, you can stay as one your whole career or transition into a full-time employee at a company you really like. In short, there is no straight career path for entrepreneurs or consultants. These are also considered high-risk jobs; in both situations, you have to hustle to keep clients as well as finding new clients. There is not a lot of job security and you could be working with someone for a few months or a few years.
Because you can be an entrepreneur or a consultant for several different areas across health, environmental, agricultural, or other fields it can also be hard to say what your expected salary might be. Start-ups can be strapped for money and may offer equity and cash. As a consultant you can set your own wages, this may be set as an hourly rate or compensation for a whole project.
A general rule you can follow is to find out your value in an industry setting in the geographical location you are in and then divide that by 1000.
For instance, a research scientist in the Boston area can expect on average $100,000/ year so divide this by 1000 and you get $100. As a consultant in Boston with the expertise of a research scientist, you can charge $100/hour.
How To Become An Entrepreneur: Top Skills
Emotional Intelligence and People Management
Written and Oral presentation skills
Technical skills based on product or services offered at the company
What Entrepreneur Mean In Microbiology: A Day In The Life Of Victoria Holden
I had the pleasure of talking with Victoria Holden about what an entrepreneur means to her and how she started her entrepreneurship journey. She is the co-founder of the start-up Full Circle Microbes. You can check out the interview above or here. Full Circle Microbes aims at harnessing the power of microbes to help transform organic waste that harms our planet into sustainable fertilizer that helps heal our earth. Beyond decomposing organic waste, Full Circle Microbes also aims to produce microbial products to help promote plant growth, suppress pathogens, and increase seed germination all of which can help put more food on our tables. It's also a relatively young company, having only been incorporated in 2019 and is relatively small with a strong team of 5 dedicated employees.
As an entrepreneur at a start-up, a product just starts with an idea, an idea for a very specific product that solves a problem that people are having.
From there it's time to develop and test the product(s). This can be very similar to working in an academic research lab. You need to design, develop and execute experiments, collect and analyze data, and report your findings.
Start-ups are also small like some labs. For most of my Ph.D., I was the only graduate student in the lab, now I’m just the only post-doc! As such, I had to wear a lot of different hats and was responsible for every aspect of my project. This is very similar to what Victoria Holden has to do at her start-up, Full Circle Microbes, but she had all the business aspects thrown in as well. Because start-ups need to sell a product and make money, “they move really fast!” says Victoria Holden. Employees not only have to be well-rounded with several skills, but they also have to be flexible and adaptable.
In a day in the life of Victoria Holden, she may run some experiments, fix equipment, and present at meetings both internally with her team or externally with stakeholders, potential clients, or at conferences. She may write a grant, or apply to some other funding sources. She may even be involved in some other forms of writing like project reports, patents, or reviewing other grants.
Companies also have to always be looking ahead. Planning the direction of the company both as a research lab and as a business. This may have to include hiring new people and helping the company to expand. In addition as a CEO at a start-up, you act as the manager and work at ensuring your employees are happy and healthy.
Advice To An Entrepreneur From A Entrepreneur
Victoria is a big advocate of networking and self-reflection. When she was looking for a career path that suited her, she set up a number of informational interviews with anyone and everyone that would talk to her just to get an idea of what this career path looked like. Through networking, she gained vital connections that led her to where she is today. She suggests LinkedIn and Twitter as great networking opportunities.
The other advice Victoria would give to aspiring entrepreneurs is to start consulting. Think of this as an extended interview or a trial period for a job. You can provide your expertise to a company while gaining some compensation and experience. Through this, you can get an idea if you like the company culture, the people, and the business overall. If you don’t, you can just end your contract or end your time working with them. If you do well you already have your foot in the door and can easily transition into the company as a full-time employee.
Her final piece of advice is always to negotiate! Not only is it expected of you, but it also shows you know your value! And you are valuable!
How to Become a Entrepreneurs: Resources, Courses, and Training
NSF Innovation Corps (iCorps)
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR)
Training certificates at your University
Contact somebody within your institution MBA program or technology transfer office
Accelerators (CleanTech Open, Y combinator, JLABS, StartupHealth, QB3, Urban X)
Good both to find Startups and get some starting money for your startup
Incubators (IndieBio, Creative Destruction Lab, Cyclotron Road)
Venture Capitalist Firms
Entrepreneurship - Coursera Specialization from University of Pennsylvania
Note Microbigals is not affiliated with any of the above links and is merely giving resources to aspiring Entrepreneurs.
Still not sure what entrepreneur means in the scope of microbiology? Check out our interview with Victoria Holden to find out more about her journey.