Look for ways to differentiate whatever it is you’re doing from others, as well as find ways to constantly evolve and enhance your business model.
With more than 20 years of sales and marketing experience in the life science & biotech industries, Greg Cruikshank has leveraged his professional and entrepreneurial skills to build LabRoots, a leading social networking service, centered around all things scientific, medical and academic.
After leaving his role as vice-president of operations at Scientist Solutions in 2008, Greg founded LabRoots, with a mission to emphasizes digital innovation in scientific collaboration and learning. The platform has become a primary source for current scientific news, webinars, virtual conferences and more. It is a powerful advocate in amplifying global networks and communities and contributing to the advancement of science through content sharing capabilities and encouraging group interactions.
Greg currently serves as the CEO, fostering worldwide scientific communication and incorporates the newest social networking technologies.
Greg later founded BioConference Live in February 2009, which is the world’s largest producer of virtual events within the life sciences and clinical diagnostics community. BioConference Live brings together research scientists, clinicians, healthcare practitioners and professionals, physicians, and thought leaders from around the world to learn about recent advances in life sciences and clinical diagnostics. BioConference Live has since been brought under the LabRoots umbrella; in 2017 LabRoots will produce 20 virtual events and 450 webinars, with more scheduled for 2018.
Greg received a Bachelor of Science in biological sciences from California State University, Fullerton. In his free time, Greg enjoys a good long run and has even participated in marathons. He has a great love for his family and enjoys a healthy work/life balance by spending time with them.
Where did the idea for LabRoots come from?
Back in 2007, I was working as a VP of Sales for a scientific media company when social media/social networking was making a big play; by then Facebook had dropped the ‘the’ and allowed anyone over 13 to join, and LinkedIn has just done a major overhaul to its site. No one at the time was doing scientific, social networking. Seeing the huge opportunity where there was a gap in the market, I tried to the steer the company I was with towards scientific, social networking. The president, however, passed on it. Know the industry needed it, I set out with a few colleagues in 2008, and we did it on our own, creating LabRoots.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I start early, about 6 a.m., and power up the computer. I go over the outline and list of priority items I made the night before and get to work.
My day is usually populated with several meetings, so between meetings, I’m checking email and trying to get actual activity done. My mornings seem to fly by. In the afternoon I usually have more time to get strategic work done, follow up with my business unit leads, I crunch numbers, QuickBooks, Salesforce, and generally, work within a division that needs my attention most at that given time.
To ensure I have an afternoon as productive as my mornings, I break for one hour at 1 p.m. every day for a workout. This relieves morning stresses and keeps in focused in the afternoon. I make sure to have a good work/life balance and have family time in the evening; I am regularly involved with my kids’ activities and sports.
Before the day’s end, I check into work one more time and create an outline for the next day.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Ideas mostly come to me at night, so I am always sure to have a notepad at the side of the bed, to write down anything that comes to me. There have been several new features, client plans, and other new ideas that have come to me in the middle of the night.
More importantly, I make sure I foster a collaborative work environment, with strong leadership, where all members of the team can act as a soundboard for ideas. We’re in a position where we can hire good, smart, competent people, all working for the same goal. Communication is key, as we have regularly scheduled meetings to make sure ideas are expressed and built upon.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Web 2.0 has been so exciting for the last ten years with user-generated content and social media, sites like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and more recently Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest. Well, now we’re taking that type of technology and putting it into real world activities and business such as Uber, Door Dash, Waze, Fandango, and several Google-related entities. This all truly excites me and drives me to take LabRoots to the next level.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I feel the habits that help me most started long before I created LabRoots. I was able to build on and pull from experience and contacts, having a reputation that sells. I was able to enhance these relationships because they came from a place of trust. I then built a company that backed me up and came through on what I was selling.
Beyond that, the key to my success is two-fold: 1) I’m extremely organized on all fronts, I have an extensive email and computer file/folder system that keeps everything its precise place, and I run a thorough calendar that saves my life Without it I would be lost! 2) I’m highly driven. For the last almost ten years, I have lived for the company. I have such a strong drive for this company and product that I believe with all my heart, so there is nothing that has or will get in my way to see that LabRoots succeeds.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I was luckily enough to have parents that Instilled me with a good work ethic; I started working as a 14 and have had my share of bad jobs. One of the worst might be scooping ice cream at Baskin Robins – scooping ice cream all day isn’t as fun and easy going as one might think. Add the uniform on top of it; it was not a great time for me.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Funding is always a tightrope walk when building a new company. If I could go back and do it all again, I would go after funding more strategically. I would take my time and do my due diligence to find the best approach, both when seeking funding and outsourcing talent. I also believe that I wore too many hats at the beginning, which may have saved money but stunted the growth of the company.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Look for ways to differentiate whatever it is you’re doing from others, as well as find ways to constantly evolve and enhance your business model. It’s necessarily about staying ahead of the competition, although that is important, it’s about improving your niche in the marketplace. My leadership team demands innovation and out of the box ideas.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
A lot of it comes from who’ve I’ve hired and chosen to work with. Hiring the right people by creating an environment, product, story that people can get behind puts us in a place where we can offer to a position to some ‘big fish’ candidates, and they want to accept.
Realizing what is lacking in the market is also key and then offering a something that no one else offers, filling that void. This not only draws customers but high-caliber talent you need to develop new products and expand.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
You learn a lot of lessons when you are starting a business during a recession; there were maybe 3-4 times we almost shut the doors early on. I had to learn to listen to my instincts and those I trusted around me to ride out the hard times. I was challenged to find alternative means of funding to succeed.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Find a niche and create an app that fills some void. Honestly, there are so many things we do every day where an app that could simplify things would be beneficial to people. For example, create an app that creates and tracks your ideas and goals. You create your idea or goal which records your progress. You can discuss it with others who share the same ideas and goals and support each other. Alternatively, they can be coaches, who will advise you and motivate you. Etc.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Just bought the house of my dreams. My family has lived well, but nothing like the home we just purchased. My wife and I have three kids, and we have always wanted a home with a backyard they could enjoy. This house has a huge backyard with a pool, and room for playing sports and just running around. It the best money I’ve ever spent.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
We use Slack and GoToMeeting regularly to stay on top of projects and discuss new ideas. Along with Google Drive, we use Hightail to collaborate and share files. Hightail is particularly great for the work with do with graphics and videos, let alone a word documents. Another great tool we use regularly is daPulse for a project management software; it has an easy-to-use, responsive interface that our team loves.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“You Herd Me” Collin Cowherd – I’m a big sports fan and a fan of Collin Cowherd. He was a great ability to lay out both sides of debate, in a very entertaining way, but then lets you come to your conclusions.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Dana White and the UFC are one of the best success stories of our time. Dana White along with Fertitta brothers bought the failing UFC in 2001 for $2 Million Dollars. Since then they were able to resurrect the company turning MMA (mixed martial arts) into one of the most dominant sports in the world. Recently they sold the company UFC for $4 Billion Dollars. It’s just unbelievable, and a great story – so for me being a sports fanatic, I love the UFC and have a lot of respect for Dana White and what he has done. He inspires me to do something similar with LabRoots.