14 years ago today, I was making pancakes for Bill in my kitchen, because EpiVax offices were on the third floor of my house. We were a virtual startup – no lab, but great coffee, home-made pancakes, and lots of innovative ideas about how to make new vaccines and biotherapeutics. At the end of the work day, we could sit on the front porch with the dogs and a glass of wine and come up with new ideas about how ways to apply our immunoinformatics tools. It was a great way to start a company.
Flash forward – past the tiny shop at 365 Hope Street (a re-purposed carriage house with an outdoor conference room, perfect for multi-player games of Quake on Friday afternoon), past the renovated garage on Bassett Street, to our “world headquarters” at 146 Clifford in Providence’s Knowledge District. In 2008, we spun out an academic laboratory, now known as the Institute for Immunology and Informatics, at University of Rhode Island. We’re now 14 years old – a teenager – no longer a start up, but more of an Up Start. Up Start because we remain privately held and committed to doing Science without Fear.
It has been a great 14 years, and not only have we survived, we have thrived. We have been in the black every year, with no venture and no angel funding. We are now one of the go-to companies for Immunogenicity Screening, and we are also considered founding members of the “gene-to-vaccine” movement towards epitope-driven vaccines. And then, of course, there is Tregitope.
The key to success? Open minds. Great teamwork. Creative scientists. The ability to ask Why? as well as Why not. And a business model that many thought would not work – a mix of fee-for-service for the use of our innovative tools, with grant-funded validation in both vaccines and therapeutics, and solid scientific foundations (over 140 publications about the technology in high quality journals). That’s what makes a great Start Up a great Up Start biotech company.
Two years ago, we started the iCubed. This year, we hope to spin out one of our greatest ideas yet – Tregitope- into her own company. Stay tuned for that – perhaps the greatest mark of success, is to start another company out of one that is already thriving.
Here’s to the next year – our 15th – and many, many more. Happy birthday to us.