Please meet Jonathan Stauber!
In a few word, can you tell us more about you ?
Originally from Lille, I obtained my doctorate in the field of biochemistry. But having always had a lot of appetite for entrepreneurship, I have always sought to create a business. I was more attracted to an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) model than long experiments to repeat 10 times to validate the results. So from the end of my studies and PhD in hand, a passage in California and the Netherlands, I created ImaBiotech in 2010. I moved to Boston middle of 2018 with my wife and my two kids.
Why did you decide to expand ImaBiotech in Boston?
We quickly had a lot of customers in the United States including the US pharmaceutical leaders (Merck and Pfizer), and I was spending one week per month in America. It became necessary to set up a sales team and then a research team to address the requests of our customers, to respond more quickly and better understand their expectations. We understood that the American culture is really different from ours and that we were sometimes faced with misunderstanding.
There are so many tech hubs in the US, why did you chose Boston ?
I had loved my time in California and I thought back to find the dynamism and willingness to move the borders at all levels. But the distance with the ImaBiotech team in Europe was too important. The choice was very fast because Boston/Cambridge is the center of the Biotech pharma which concentrates the most companies (600 companies) and an incredible playground for ImaBiotech. And then the proximity to France has made our choice even more relevant.
"The choice was very fast because Boston/Cambridge is the center of the Biotech pharma"
What does your company do efficiently and well? What is your value proposition?
We decipher mechanism of action or toxicity of the drug under development and we support the pharmaceutical company to accelerate the cost and the time to develop a new drug. 12 years are needed to develop a new drug with only 1% of success. Biology is complex and understanding how a drug works is just as difficult. Via new imaging technologies, going at cellular level, our goal is to predict whether the drug will provide a sufficient response to the patient.
Tell us about support from the French institutions: FACCNE, French Consulate, French tech, Business France? Any recommendations?
As soon as we decided to prospect the American market, we collaborated with Business France who helped us develop the American market, create a network of partners and advisers. Now being in Boston for couple years, I interact with a large number of French entrepreneurs and leaders from Boston and French Tech.
The venture capital firms have helped turn Boston into a booming tech hub; can you confirm if it was a driver when you decided to move to Boston?
Yes indirectly. It was not a driver for us because we were not looking for capital (we always have balanced accounts that could allow us to grow and invest). But the concentration of venture and biotech impact on our business indirectly because we have new customers via these new start ups in the field of biotech and therefore
Do you have any recommendations for French entrepreneur and starting a business in Boston?
There is a strong French community and not just entrepreneurs. So my first advice is to stop in Boston before settling there, meet and share with the French and entrepreneurs of the French tech and other networks like the FACCNE or Business France, there are plenty of advice for the company and for his family.
From a business point of view, I would say that I underestimated the costs of the facility, operating costs and the turnover of the Boston branch. The talents and resources are present but at a cost that I had not sufficiently anticipated.
Boston is a global business center what benefits do you see for your company ? Does it help attract talents, market your brand?
Boston is a huge Business center and we find everything to run a business at large scale. Capital, talents, universities, students, excepted Food which is terrible.
"Boston is a huge Business center and we find everything to run a business at large scale. "
What do you find challenging doing Business in Boston/ in the US at first sight ?
Been in an international market mindset makes it easy to transfer business from Europe to USA. But I remember my first meetings between the teams in USA and France, and identify misunderstanding and a different culture, different way to communicate and interact. Then, the team and myself had to adapt our European culture to our customers, in market access, sales process, as well as the realization of projects and scientific exchanges.
How fast have things moved for your business since you arrived a few months ago ?
After 18 months here, things are going very well with 130% growth in 2019 and USA becomes our primary market before Europe. In our field, it is a place rich in innovation or there are many new technologies, new concepts and new therapies very promising. We are happy to participate and contribute to the development of new future leaders.
What would you have liked to know before arriving or at your arrival that you missed?
In such an attractive region, with so many talented companies, it is difficult to compete and the turnover is very important. The company culture must be strong, well prepared and armed to compete with the big pharmaceutical companies. It is necessary to prepare well for its human resources policy and to adapt it. It is necessary to prepare well its human resources policy and to adapt it and to find strong elements to preserve its best elements.
"The company culture must be strong, well prepared and armed to compete with the big pharmaceutical companies"
What do you love with Boston/ US market ?
Decisions are made quickly and this allows the company to test the solutions, adapt and improve very quickly. There is no time to procrastinate, so for an entrepreneur, it's a wonderful playground.
Thank you very much Jonathan, we wish you a successful end of year !
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