Alternate Careers: Entrepreneurship

Posted in BioBusiness

There is no question that the US is lagging behind other nations in science, technology, engineering and math. While this may be troubling to some, Americans possess one skill that provides them with an unheralded advantage; that is entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurial skills cannot be easily taught or learned. And while most Americans don’t know it, entrepreneurship is a passively acquired trait that most non-Americans would “kill for.” Unfortunately, the recent recession and increasing global competition had dampened Americans entrepreneurial enthusiasm to the point where risk-adverse business behavior is threatening to stifle US innovation.

Peter Sims addresses this issue in a NY Times piece entitled “Daring To Stumble on the Road to Discovery” where he laments “…our education system emphasizes teaching and testing us about facts that are already known. There is much less focus on our ability to discover, create and reinvent.”

He contends that Americans can no longer expect that jobs will be waiting for them and that everyone needs to think about “inventing” their own jobs. While this may seem unlikely for many jobseekers, he offers the following to those who may be willing to try.

“INVENTION and discovery emanate from the ability to try seemingly wild possibilities; to feel comfortable being wrong before being right; to live in the world as a careful observer, open to different experiences; to play with ideas without prematurely judging oneself or others; to persist through difficulties; and to have a willingness to be misunderstood, sometimes for long periods, despite the conventional wisdom.”

Further he offers:

“All these abilities can be learned and developed, but doing so requires us to unlearn many of our tendencies toward linear planning and perfectionism.”

In other words, take risks and dare to be different. The worst thing that may is happen is that you fail. And, if you ask many successful people what contributed most to their success, they will likely tell you about their failures and how they helped them to “get it right” the next time.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!

Alternate Career Options: Working For CROs and Biotech Startups

Posted in Career Advice

In today’s tough economy, one of the more challenging things after graduating college or graduate school is finding a job. Many life sciences graduates are beginning to realize that skills and training that they received in college have not adequately prepared them for jobs in the real world. Furthering, “previous industrial experience” is almost always a requirement for most jobs at pharma and biotechnology companies. As many students ask me “How can we get previous industrial experience if nobody will hire us to get that experience?”

While this may appear to be a typical “Catch 22” situation, it is not an insurmountable one A convenient way to acquire the requisite previous industrial experience is to volunteer or land an internship (paid or otherwise) at a small, local life sciences company. Many of these companies can use the help and will gladly give you an opportunity as long as they don’t have to pay you much. These companies conduct research for their pharmaceutical and biotechnology clients and are frequently willing to hire relatively inexperienced but talented scientists into entry level jobs. This is because the demand for well-trained scientists continues to grow at CROs as more and more pharma and biotechnology companies outsource R&D activities and continue to shed jobs.

Another option is to look for entry-level jobs at local start up companies. Typically, most of these companies are venture-backed and have limited financial resources. Consequently, salaries offered by these companies to employees are generally lower than those at CROs, biotech and pharmaceutical companies. Nevertheless, while you may not get paid as much as you expected or like, working as a research scientist at a start up company definitely counts as industry experience and it may help to jump start your career in the life sciences industry.

If you cannot get a job at aCROor a local start up, you can always start your own company! However, while this may sound like an exciting idea, it is probably a good idea get some entrepreneurial training before you take the leap.

Finally, it you cannot land a job at aCRO, a local start up or you are not interested in starting your own company, you can always go back to graduate school (not science related) or professional school. However, if you choose this path, then I highly recommend that you do some research to determine which jobs are likely to be in high demand over the next 5 to 10 years! While going to graduate school may help to defer repaying your undergraduate students loans, you run the risk of incurring more debt and possibly not have a job after you graduate unless you choose your next career option wisely.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!!

Sam Waksal, PhD: A Phoenix Rising

Posted in BioBusiness

Sam Waksal, the former Founder and CEO of ImClone Systems who was convicted in 2003 of insider stock trading and spent about five years in prison is trying to make a comeback as a biotechnology entrepreneur.

Shortly after his release from prison, Sam started a new, privately-held, biotechnology company called Kadmon (a moniker taken from the Kabbalah). He reportedly was able to raise over $50 million in venture capital (much of it allegedly coming from Carl Icahn a long time investor, business partner and friend.*

Kadmon which has been operating in stealth mode for the past two years today announced that it had acquired Three Rivers Pharmaceuticals, a privately held company in Warrendale, PA that develops and sells drugs to treat hepatitis C infection. Three Rivers was acquired to provide Kadmon with an ongoing source of revenue to help develop other drugs. It sells versions of the drugs alpha interferon and ribavirin, mainstays of hepatitis C treatment.

According to a company spokesperson, Kadmon acquired Three Rivers for over $100 million. Previously, Kadmon quietly acquired PhytoCeutica a company developing a cancer drug derived from traditional Chinese medicine and Flux Therapeutics a company co-found by Thomas E. Shenk, PhD a Princeton University virologist. Coincidentally, Dr. Shenk works in the Carl Icahn Laboratories at Princeton University.

Despite his conviction for insider trading, Sam is a seasoned and successful biotechnology entrepreneur who almost single handedly brought the blockbuster anti-cancer drug Erbitux to market. Sam who has a PhD degree in Immunology from Ohio State University and  has a "leg-up" on many biotechnology entrepreneurs because he understand both science and business.  As you may recall, ImClone System (the company that he founded in the 1980s) was sold two years ago to Eli Lilly for $6.5 billion—a deal brokered by ImClone’s Chairman, Carl Icahn. 

Interestingly, Sam is prohibited by a settlement he made with the Securities and Exchange Commission from serving as a director or executive of a publicly traded company. It will be interesting to see whether or not Kadmon decides to remain private. I suspect that won’t be the case if the IPO window opens up a bit more over the next few years. Once biotechnology companies go public, there is no longer a need for entrepreneurial founders like Sam to stick around!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting (try Kadmon, they have lots of cash)

 * An NY Times article published on Nov 1, 2010 contends that Carl Icahn had initially considered investing $30 million in Kadmon but ultimately decided to pass.

Biocareers: Some Advice for Would Be Entrepreneurs

Posted in BioJobBuzz

More and more people are losing their corporate jobs because of the recession. The bleak job market coupled with diminishing opportunities for older, seasoned employees is forcing many to consider starting their own businesses to join the ranks of the self employed. However, before you take the leap, I highly recommend that you read Phyllis Korkki’s article in this Sunday’s New York Times entitled “Taking the Leap To Self Employment.

As a person who successfully made the leap, she offers amazing insights into what it really takes to be successful as an entrepreneur or small business owner. Most importantly, would be entrepreneurs must possess three important characteristics: motivation, drive and passion. If you lack any of the three, chances are that you are not cut out to be self employed or entrepreneurial enough to start your own company. Also, she aptly points out that one of the major drawbacks of self employment is loneliness. I cannot stress enough that this is the major complaint of most self employed persons that I know. 

While nobody wants to admit it, humans are social animals who need to interact with one another to fulfill the evolutionary need to be “social.” Luckily, the advent of social media has helped to overcome the daily loneliness experienced by many entrepreneurs and self employed persons. That said, before you make the leap, please read the article—it will help to determine whether or not self employment is right for you!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting


Web Tools for Entrepreneurs and Business-Leaning Life Scientists

Posted in BioJobBuzz

As the competition for traditional life sciences jobs continues to intensify, many PhD-trained life scientists are looking for alternate career opportunities. One of the most popular and intriguing options is business—mostly because each of us more than likely knows somebody “who hit it big” by starting a biotechnology or life science-related company. While the entrepreneurial life isn’t for everyone, those intrepid individuals who are willing to give it a shot and possibly be successful ought to be aware of a few basic tools that will make life as an entrepreneur slightly less stressful. To that end, Emma Taylor over at Accredited Online Colleges sent me a blog post that lists 100 web tools that may be valuable to budding entrepreneurs and business-oriented life scientists.

Author Note: The list is a very valuable one; I am using several of the tools on the list that I had previously never heard about! So, here goes:


Keep your studies, ideas and research organized with these helpful online tools.

  1. Google Reader: Instead of visiting every blog you read, why not organize them all on this easy-to-use RSS reader?
  2. Backpack: Keep your notes, contacts, information and just about everything else for class or business organized with this tool.
  3. Stickies: This application makes it simple to make notes to yourself right on the web.
  4. Bla-Bla List: Try out this to-do list application for no frills tracking of all the things you need to get done.
  5. Mindomo: This web tool is great for laying out your thoughts for anything from business endeavors to class projects.
  6. FreeMind: Use this free mind-mapping software to figure out where you want to go with an idea.
  7. This web application is perfect for brainstorming your next big project.
  8. iOrganize: Mac users can try out this application, designed to keep notes and important information centrally located and easy to find.
  9. Zoho Planner: Give this free planner a try. It’ll let you create and share to-dos, notes, contacts, images and more.
  10. Clipmarks: Those who do a lot of web research or just like to browse can save interesting links for future reference using this tool


Make sure you never miss a meeting, test or networking opportunity by using these scheduling apps.

  1. Google Calendar: Google’s calendar is easy-to-use and will let you organize all your important work, school and social events.
  2. Cozi: This calendar tracks everything from sports meets to shopping lists.
  3. Keep and Share: If you often work with others on projects or extracurricular activities, this calendar-sharing app could be right up your alley.
  4. Spongecell: With this application you can create and customize your calendar and share it with others when you choose.
  5. Doodle: This personalized scheduling app will help you arrive on time and prepared for the events in your life.
  6. StudyRails: Plan out your study time and know when important due dates are coming up with this application.
  7. 30 Boxes: Use this tool to keep track of all the things, both big and small, going on in your life.
  8. SlimTimer: Track how long you’re working on a project, create to-dos and generally manage your time more wisely with this application.
  9. WhichTime: This calendar makes it incredibly simple to keep track of where you’re supposed to be and when.
  10. Jotlet: Quickly jot down appointments and important due dates using this calendar app.

Networking and Marketing

Use these web tools to get your name out there, make connections and make the most of the millions of potential investors and employers using the web.

  1. Facebook: You can do a whole lot more with Facebook than just keep track of your old friends. Create a networking profile and get your name known.
  2. Twitter: Creating a Twitter account can be a great way to share updates about your business, school or your ideas.
  3. LinkedIn: Take advantage of this networking tool to get in touch with the thousands of other businesspeople online in your field.
  4. Elance: Using this tool you can make connections and even find some freelance work.
  5. iMantri: If you’re in search of a mentor in your industry, don’t pass up this excellent site for pairing young professionals with mentors.
  6. Company of Friends: One of the earliest business social networks, this site still offers a great number of professional contacts for those who are willing to search for them.
  7. Ecademy: Meet people, blog and join professional groups on this business networking site.
  8. Media Bistro: This site makes it easier to meet and talk with people in the content generation business, great for promoting your business or for making contacts.
  9. Jigsaw: Link your budding business up with others through this large B2B network.
  10. Meetup: Through this site you’ll be able to find business meetups, events and more in your area.

Staying Connected

Talk to business partners, clients, friends and colleagues using these great online tools.

  1. Gmail: Of the free email services out there, most would agree that Gmail is far and away the best choice. Better yet, you can link it up with a calendar, RSS reader and more.
  2. Google Voice: This online service allows you to get your voice messages no matter where you are and to consolidate your phone numbers.
  3. Campfire: Collaborate with others on school and work projects using this site.
  4. FaxZERO: Fax machines may be outdated, but in your business you’ll likely encounter someone who wants something faxed to them. That’s where this service comes in handy.
  5. K7: On the flipside, this service allows you to receive fax messages even if you don’t have a fax machine.
  6. LogMeIn: If you can’t always take your computer with you where ever you go, it’s not a problem with this service that lets you log onto your desktop from anywhere.
  7. Highrise: This web tool makes it simple to keep track of your professional contacts, perfect for helping you find work or drum up business.
  8. Wufoo: One way to generate a better product is by asking customers what they think. This site helps you do that simply and easily.
  9. WordPress: What better way to get your business out there and stay connected with the world than by creating a blog? Get a free site here.
  10. Meebo: Chat with people on all chat platforms using this one easy tool.


Whether you’re doing research for a class or for your own ideas or ventures, these tools can help.

  1. BNET: Get access to this site’s business library and news to stay on top of what is going on in the business world.
  2. Seeking Alpha: Research stocks and investing ideas through this site.
  3. U.S. Business Reporter: On this site you’ll find information about businesses, including their sales, statistics and more.
  4. BizShark: Whether you’re looking for a job or just want to know more about a particular business, this search engine makes it simple.
  5. Motley Fool: Find all the market advice and information you need through this site.
  6. Masterseek: This company search engine lets you search by brand, product or business.
  7. Zibb: Find just about any business and accompanying news, stats and information on this site.
  8. Google Scholar: The web is full of information, but not all of it’s reliable. This search engine pares down results to just scholarly and professional sources.
  9. Zotero: If you use Firefox as a browser, then try out this great plug-in that makes it simple to save, share and cite references you’ve culled from the web.
  10. CiteULike: Make sure your bibliography isn’t a total mess by using this easy citation generator.

Mobile Apps

Don’t let a little thing like being away from the computer slow down your business aspirations. Try out these mobile web apps to take your projects on the road.

  1. Business Reference Library: Make every time you don’t know something an opportunity to learn more with this amazing dictionary.
  2. Oxford Dictionary of Finance and Banking: Look up any words or terms that seem strange to you with this handy tool.
  3. mbPointer: Transform your phone into a fully featured presentation pointer using this application.
  4. Analytics App: See just how well your business or personal website is doing with this analytics tool.
  5. QuickOffice Mobile Office Suite: Whether you’re writing a business plan, tracking your finances or just preparing for class, this app lets you do it from anywhere.
  6. Pocket MBA Test: If you’re studying to get your MBA, practice the information you’ll need to know for the test while on the go.
  7. Glossary of Business Acronyms: Never wonder what an acronym means again with this helpful reference app.
  8. Leadership Quotes: Get inspired with this application full of great business leadership quotes.
  9. Bump: With this application you can share your business card simply by touching your phone to another.
  10. Wall Street Words: Not sure what the heck the Wall Street Journal is talking about? Don’t stay ignorant, look the word up in this financial dictionary app.

Multitasking and Productivity

Learn how to get more done with less by using these apps.

  1. OmniFocus: Try out this application to finally “get serious” about productivity with functions that let you take notes, turn them into to-dos and stay on task.
  2. Netvibes: Keep all your favorite websites organized in one place so you can see what’s going on with each at the same time using this site.
  3. Evernote: Create notes for yourself on the go and share, email and access them later with this tool.
  4. Remember the Milk: Get to-do lists on your computer that you can check on the web or on your phone with this tool.
  5. Ta-Da List: This simple tool lets you create to-do lists to ensure you get all your work done.
  6. Joe’s Goals: Set goals for yourself for this year, five years from now or this week using this site.
  7. Time Tracker: This tool lets you keep track of what sites you’re visiting so you can pare down your procrastination time.
  8. Rescue Time: If you’re easily distracted, this tool is designed to help you focus and limit the temptation to browse other websites.
  9. TreePad Lite: Organize your personal information, data, contacts, notes and more in one place using this application.
  10. Todoist: Use this application to track all of the things you need to get done in a day or week.
  11. PageProof :The world’s first fully encrypted cloud proofing and approval system, hence no more complicated email trails and sign-off made simple.

Starting a Business

If you’re feeling ambitious and want to start your own business while in graduate school, these free tools can be a big help in getting the venture off the ground!

  1. Highrise: Use the website to track business leads, clients and contacts so you’ll never lose out on potential business.
  2. Freshbooks: Manage all of your business finances using this online tool.
  3. Basecamp: This project management site will let you dole out tasks, see where a project stands and keep it all organized.
  4. Wesabe: Whether you use it for your personal finances or to track a business’ worth, this free financial tool is a great online resource.
  5. ConceptShare: Get feedback on your designs, concepts and projects easily through this collaborative tool.
  6. PayPal: You’ve got to get paid somehow, and this site makes it pretty darn simple to get it done.
  7. MyNewCompany: Use this site as a great source of information to make sure you’re not making any big blunders when it comes to running your new business.
  8. Nolo: Find legal advice for your new business on this site.
  9. BigCartel: If you need a shopping cart app for your site, this one is reasonably priced and easy to use.
  10. Google AdWords: Google Ads are a great way to promote your business or to make a few extra bucks by placing them on your site.

Markets and Investment

Follow global economic trends, identify investors or and try your own hand at investing by using these tools.

  1. Covestor: Follow what more experienced investors are doing on Covestor to see how things work and gain confidence.
  2. Tip’d: Stay current with the latest business and financial news on this site.
  3. Market Watch Community: This site will help you to learn more about the market in an online investment community.
  4. Zopa: If you need a loan for your business, get one from everyday people and not the bank through this site.
  5. Market Watch: Keep up with the ups and downs of the market on this site.
  6. Find out where any stock stands by looking it up on this site.
  7. Investor Guide: Get stock quotes, investing advice and the latest financial news on this site.
  8. Go4Funding: Go through this site to find an angel investor for your business venture.
  9. Venture Worthy: Find out if your business has what it takes to draw in investors from this great website.
  10. Investing Minds: Share advice and ideas on investing on this online community.

Business Toolkits

These toolkits combine a wide variety of resources from business plan templates to financial calculators to make sure you know the ins and outs of being an entrepreneur.

  1. From finding a job to managing a workplace, this site is full of tools and articles to help you do it right.
  2. BizToolkit: Learn how to plan, market and grow a business with this toolkit.
  3. Find vendors, learn how to franchise, discover PR tools and more through this site.
  4. SCORE: Here you’ll get access to business-related quizzes, podcasts and links.
  5. U.S. Small Business Administration: There are numerous free resources available to small business owners on this government site.
  6. Find sample business plans and learn how to build your own on this site.
  7. Green Business Guide: Try out the resources found on this site to launch your own green business.
  8. Small Business Toolkit: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has created this set of tools to help you start, manage and expand your business.
  9. Goliath Business Tools: With business plans, a business encyclopedia, and a company profile database, this site is chock-full of business goodness
  10. Business Owner’s Toolkit Find everything you’ll need to get your business up and running on this site.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!!