SimPath’s core technology, TNT-cloning, offers the first truly scalable DNA assembly resource. Our services are faster and more cost-effective than alternative solutions. We offer researchers the tools to expand their work and be more innovative.
Location: Knoxville, TN
Product / Service Offering: DNA assembly service
Co-founder Interviewed: Jeremy Baldi
Other Key Management Team Members: Rob Moseley and Ben Mohr, co-founders
This article is part of our Business Startup Spotlight series featuring entrepreneurs and their companies. We hope that these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you.
With SimPath, it is very easy to find motivation. The potential impact of SimPath provides an immediate energy boost every time I think about it. Entrepreneurship is something that has always been of interest to me. I started my first company in 2013. I immediately knew it was something for which I am passionate. It is a grind and an emotional rollercoaster, but there is so much satisfaction in the creation of a company. I have never experienced a similar situation or feeling in my life.
When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?
Rob Moseley, one of the co-founders, began working on the company back in late 2015. TNT-cloning is now our core technology. Dr. Henrique De Paoli at Oak Ridge National Laboratory developed it. Rob was part of that lab and immediately recognized the capabilities of the technology. Ben Mohr and I joined SimPath in early 2016. The legal formation of the company followed shortly.
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What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?
Synthetic biology is revolutionizing how we manufacture products, such as various chemicals, fuels, medicines, and materials. The types of products synthetic biologists and bio-based manufacturing companies can make is increasing every year. This innovation is held back by their ability to scale DNA assembly. By combining state-of-the-art DNA synthesis and assembly methods, SimPath will address this scalability issue.
What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?
SimPath’s core technology, TNT-cloning, offers the first truly scalable DNA assembly resource. Our services are faster and more cost-effective.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge for SimPath was securing the exclusive rights to the technology, which occurred recently. We spent a significant amount of time and effort examining and studying the market in order to prepare our application. Our focuses and challenges have shifted now that the technology is secured. I am sure we will face bigger issues soon. Starting a company rarely goes smoothly.
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What resources have you utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful?
Being in different locations often, SimPath relies heavily on Slack and Skype. I know these are tools most entrepreneurs utilize. If you do not use Slack, check it out. LivePlan was another great resource for us early on. It provides some structure with regards to developing a business plan. This tool is great for first-time founders. Also, seek out programs, mentors, and accelerators that can provide guidance. We were fortunate with this. It has made a massive difference.
What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?
At this point, we have received Research and Development Grants. We are now beginning to seek additional funding. Outside of the grants, SimPath is mainly self-funded, other than money won in pitch competitions.
What questions have you had as an entrepreneur of a fledgling startup that you had a particularly hard time finding the answers to?
When is the best time for us to accept funding? This varies from company to company, but it can have a huge impact on long-term success. Everyone we contact and everything we read has a different take on this.
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What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?
It is a challenge to break the habits of our customers. Through speaking with potential customers, we have come to realize that their purchasing decisions often come down to familiarity, rather than cost, efficiency, productivity, speed, etc. I know this is a problem in a lot of industries, but we are trying to determine the best way to break this habit.
What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?
“Don’t confuse activity with productivity.” This quote is a tip rather than a hack, but I think it is a trap in which most people fall. I know I used to be guilty. Time is limited and valuable, particularly when starting a new company. Be as efficient as possible.
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Is there anything else you would like to share about your company?
We want to change the world by helping others change the world. You could almost say we are outsourcing this, because we are offering researchers the tools to expand their work and be more innovative. We are helping them bring the products of tomorrow to today’s market.
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