Even an absurd guess turns out to be acceptable and useful. Such an approach keeps your horizon wide and ready for unexpected solutions.”
Elizaveta is a specialist with more than five years of experience in venture capital financing of biopharmaceutical projects. She graduated from the Mechanics and Mathematics Faculty and the Biology Faculty with a degree in Genetics of Lomonosov Moscow State University. The main direction of her scientific activities was the research in the field of mathematical modeling of gene interactions. Elizaveta is an author of a number of scientific papers and a speaker at international conferences.
Where did the idea for Primer Capital come from?
The idea was put forward by Dmitry Sharov, the president of the leading contract research organization in Eastern Europe. For many years, his company has been conducting clinical trials of any complexity in different parts of the world. One day Mr. Sharov decided to start the first Russian private biotech venture capital fund with a unique expertise and invited me to manage it.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
‘Groundhog Day’ is not about me. Every day of my life is different, and that’s the magic of my job.
My work day often starts with a meeting with my business partner at 8 a.m., after that I spend some time with my current tasks with portfolio projects, followed by an industry conference, and the evening is dedicated to meetings with potential project participants. The tricky part of staying productive is not to miss the lunch.
How do you bring ideas to life?
It is very important to let an idea ’grow’ and to ’reap’ it only after a while. What is most important here is the assistance, sincere interest and involvement of the team.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The first personalized gene therapy drug approved by FDA. It gives patients with serious diseases a hope for recovery or significant improvement of life quality. T-cells are removed from a patient with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia cancer, genetically engineered to make a specific T-cell receptor that reacts to the cancer, and transferred back to the person.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Actually, I don’t have any specific habit for that. My two university degrees in mathematics and biologics make my job the best application of all my skills, favorite branch of knowledge and ambitions. So I don’t feel I need any special habit for being productive – I just passionately love what I do.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I think I won’t be ready to answer this question for another 20 years.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I believe there are no people without the ability to do math. I have been tutoring pupils for 3 years and teaching university students for 6 years. I taught math and advanced math, differential equations and mathematical analysis. The main insight I learned from this experience is that math requires understanding, everyone can understand it, and the point is how to explain and how much time to spend on it.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Taking regular time-outs works really well for business – switching to any hobby helps find business answers and elegant solutions in difficult situations. I also believe that any relevant idea I come up with when working on projects is helpful. Sometimes even an absurd guess turns out to be acceptable and useful. Anyway, such an approach keeps your horizon wide and ready for unexpected solutions.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
It won’t be right to comment on the Fund’s success before the invested projects are implemented.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
There was a case when my passionate enthusiasm for the scientific part of a potential project made it extremely difficult to turn it away at the final stage of negotiations. We were almost ready to invest, but then decided we couldn’t take the risks arising out of the Fund’s exit from that project, which was still unclear when all other issues were resolved and negotiated. It’s always important to remind yourself that it’s impossible to make decisions based on several criteria and at the same time close your eyes to any of them.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Buy lots of different sunglasses and mix their parts. I’ve already done it – it looks like something you can find on Spanish streets with half handmade, half exclusive stuff. There may be several grades of this. The first grade is when your glasses look pretty normal, but the ear pieces are a bit different, the second grade is when you mix slightly different frames, and so on. 🙂
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
It was a nice umbrella I bought in London. No need to explain its usefulness. 🙂
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
I like the Wallet app with all those loyalty cards, cinema tickets and – thankfully – boarding passes.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
‘The Last Leaf’ by O. Henry. I love the idea that every activity, including art and science, is valuable only if it helps moving forward and saves lives.
What is your favorite quote?
Per aspera ad astra
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.