Business Development: Vlad Grecu
Vlad Grecu shares some insights into what led him to Catalyze and his role and responsibilities as a business developer.
Chemistry. Perhaps the oldest form of science since the inception of the Universe. Science is all about curiosity and the desire to find out how something happens, how something is created. I knew that by studying chemistry I would dive into the unknown and into creating new molecules, which did indeed happen. My past work in the pharma industry showed me how little we actually know about some diseases and how many unanswered questions are still out there.
In parallel, I started developing a deep curiosity about the entrepreneurial world. I took finance and entrepreneurship classes and while these were completely different concepts to science, I felt very attracted to this new area. What are the elements of success for a new-startup? What do you need to do in order to differentiate from others? How do you disrupt markets or even create new ones? Why would someone invest in a young immature company?
During my studies, I understood that I need to pursue a career where I can combine my passion towards science with my interest and curiosity towards start-up financing. That’s how I discovered Catalyze. Working here helps me to fulfil my vision of directly contributing to the early stages of start-ups disrupting the healthcare industry.
As a business developer at Catalyze, the highest responsibility is to ensure the alignment of a company’s strategy to the grant of interest. An early analysis of the team, ambitions and financial strength is crucial before officially signing for a collaboration, because the ultimate goal is to secure funding. By understanding the competitive advantage, degree of innovation and vision of the main applicant, one can anticipate the real chances of securing the grant. Nothing can be guaranteed in this non-dilutive financing space, but certain steps must be applied in order to de-risk any prospective application.
Working days are highly dynamic and consist of daily conversations with researchers. As a business developer, I am in constant contact with academic professors, university research group leaders, company board advisors, CEOs and CTOs of start-ups. The main tasks of focus are analysing research projects, providing strategic grant advice and matching our services with the exact needs of the client. Conversations are highly diversified and range from discussing a niche academic project to discussing commercialization plans for a new ground-breaking technology or treatment. In addition to the external conversations, I must cooperate very closely with my consultant colleagues. Working as a business developer requires a very high degree of teamwork and efficient communication because your colleagues are the best resource of knowledge and experience available in the company. Many times you need to find answers to challenging questions and even if we are in the “Google” era, your colleague is your best friend.
Thinking outside the box
I’d like to end by sharing what I really enjoy about this job: the everyday learning factor. This happens due to the very high volume of information and questions that you get exposed to. I had the joy to share ideas and brainstorm with expert researchers based in biotech hubs such as Seoul, California, London, Amsterdam or Barcelona. I get to learn about new disruptive technologies, investment strategies, obstacles in fundraising, failures and success stories. It is very important to be open-minded, receptive, highly knowledgeable and a great listener. In my opinion, these are essential traits of not only a successful business developer, but also of a trusted advisor and problem-solver.