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BIO 2018 Start-up Stadium—Springboard to Success

April 30, 2018
Early stage biotech companies face many uphill challenges, not the least of which is where to find the right partners to help turn their promising technology into viable, commercial products. Several years ago, BIO created the Start-up Stadium at the BIO International Convention—the largest annual global gathering of biotechnology professionals. The idea was to provide a forum for a select group of early stage biotech companies—vetted and approved by subject matter experts—to engage with key stakeholders at the beginning of their life-cycle. Participants would engage in an interactive experience before seasoned judges from investment, venture philanthropy, economic development, academia and industry sectors.

Much like a reality TV show competition, the event creates a dynamic interplay between the contestants and judges. After delivering a six-minute pitch, the early-stage company receives feedback in real time from hand-picked judges and often continues the relationship beyond the initial meeting at the Convention. In the end, six winners are chosen from among the more than 40 finalists. Most of the start-ups find the experience to be beneficial and a few have agreed to share their stories with us.

This is the first in a series of blogs that highlight Start-up Stadium success stories.

[caption id="attachment_27964" align="alignleft" width="197"] Yiannis Kaznessis, CEO, General Probiotics[/caption]

Today we talked with 2017 participant, Yiannis Kaznessis of General Probiotics, about his Start-up Stadium experience.

BIOtechNOW (BTN): Can you tell us about your start-up?

General Probiotics ( develops innovative antimicrobial probiotics that

1) eliminate harmful pathogens in livestock,

2) enable the production of safe food, and

3) reduce our current dependency on antibiotics.

We use synthetic biology to engineer probiotics that produce 1,000 more antimicrobial peptides than regular probiotics. The result is a high-performing live biotherapeutic that can be used by livestock producers to raise healthy livestock and to produce safe food.


BTN: Was the Start-Up Stadium platform able to assist you in gaining visibility?

Certainly, we presented to a large audience and had numerous meetings with potential partners who listened to our presentation.

BTN: Did you receive constructive live feedback at the Start-Up Stadium from stakeholders and subject matter experts?

Yes, it is important to get this type of exposure simply because stakeholders and subject matter experts will ask important challenging questions we might not pose to ourselves. Answering such questions is key for a startup's growth.

[caption id="attachment_27965" align="alignright" width="251"] General Probiotics[/caption]

BTN: How have you implemented any feedback to achieve success and continued growth?  

Yes, the feedback helped us determine what stakeholders expect from a technology like ours. We could then focus on delivering the features that stakeholders are really looking for.

BTN: Were your BIO One-on-One Partnering™ meetings successful? Did they generate valuable connections with potential for meaningful partnerships?

Yes! BIO One-on-One Partnering is brilliant! The most effective use of time and space for networking I have ever encountered. We met with what has turned out to be a key strategic partner. These types of partnerships often determine the difference between success and failure for startups.

BTN: Although no longer eligible to participate in the Start-Up Stadium, will you be returning the 2018 BIO International Convention in Boston?

Yes, absolutely!