Tips from Serial Entrepreneur and Successor at BioAsia2017
Dr. Naismith serves Chairman of JUJAMA, Inc. a professional conference and community networking SAAS company. Until January 2008, Naismith served as Chairman and CEO of Life Science Analytics a company he founded and sold to London-based Datamonitor, Inc. His career to date has been one of serial entrepreneurship. Dr. Naismith co-founded Pharmakon Research International, Inc., a major international preclinical contract research organization which was sold to DNX, Princeton. In 1986 he founded Biofor, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company, and served as its President and CEO which was sold to Scherer Healthcare, Atlanta, GA.
Up close with Dr. Robert Naismith
Sabeera: As a serial entrepreneur, how do you become a better leader?
Prof. Naismith: What one learns as a leader of a start-up or any company is your people are your most important asset. It is important to mentor, encourage and hire the very best talent available.
Sabeera: Could you name who has tremendously affected you as a pioneer?
Prof. Naismith: My first business venture was an academic consultant to a company, Pharmakon Laboratories which was a contract pharmacology laboratory. The CEO, Dr. Richard Matthews, was a very early entrepreneur (1960’s) when it was not common to start companies or to be an entrepreneur. He is exemplified leader, a gentleman and encouraged me to venture outside of academics. He provided me the opportunity to build a very successful genetic and subsequently toxicology contract lab service in a new company as we named Pharmakon Research International, Inc. Dr. Matthews served by precept example, and always stressed the importance of quality and taught, first be good at what you do and business would follow. 30 years later I still remember the example he provided as a kind, sensitive human being.
Sabeera: Do you appreciate the technology we have today or admire the old ways?
Prof. Naismith: The technology today is wonderful. It has been my life and underlined each company that I started. Social media is a huge asset which will allow people to stay connected. Computer technology, sequencing capabilities, genomics, etc., make so much possible in understanding the underlying causes of disease. Communications through the cell phone has absolutely flattened the world and allows flexibility in when and where you work. The old ways are gone and are not coming back-nor should they.
Sabeera: How could you choose to seek after the profession that you are working in today? What was the crucial moment?
Prof. Naismith: My career has been very varied and when I look back, I have difficulty believing that I moved between verticals as varied as academics, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, financial, brokerage, investment banking, knowledge based systems, app development.
Sabeera: Amongst the serial entrepreneurships, which was the most difficult start-up to dealt with?
Prof. Naismith: JUJAMA has encountered the greatest competition in the market place and we have had to double our efforts to be first in class to become the industry leader. We are now setting the standard for quality, functionality and customer service.
Sabeera: You have managed to be succeeding in both academia as well as Industry. What was the secret behind this serious commitment?
Prof. Naismith: Ambition, hard work, desire, and an internal drive to see opportunity and wish to exploit it.
From 1996 to 1998, Dr. Naismith served as Chairman and Director of the MicroCap Fund and Managing Director of Healthcare at Bluestone Capital Partners, L.P. in New York, before founding Emedsecurities in 1998 a boutique investment bank serving the small-cap life-science industry. Emedsecurities was the predecessor to Life Science Analytics. He also cofounded with his daughter NND Biomedical Sciences, Hyderabad, India and served as Chairman and CEO.
Sabeera: Transforming from geneticist to a successful leader, was the journey easy?
Prof. Naismith: Life is a progression and each opportunity presents its unique obstacles. The journey is never easy but very rewarding when you start to feel and see success.
Sabeera: The most satisfying moment of your journey as an entrepreneur?
Prof. Naismith: Working first with a colleague and finally for the last 19 years with my daughter who is now the President and CEO of JUJAMA and a successful entrepreneur in her own right. Certainly, serves as an example for Bio-startups. NND Biomedical Sciences name comes from her initials as she first saw the opportunity in India and chose to launch a company there in 1999.
Sabeera: What kind of experience/talent are you looking for at BioAsia2017?
Prof. Naismith: My role at BioAsia is to serve as the Vice Chair of the International Advisory Board which I founded. Our purpose is to help the meeting become a world class biopharmaceutical meeting showcasing the strengths of both the country of India and more specifically the unique demographics of Telangana and the Hyderabad environs. I have tremendous respect and admiration for Shakthi Nagappan who has shepherded the meeting to its current success. This is a personal obligation I feel because of the wonderful companies and dedicated staff I have been able to found in being Hyderabad based.
Sabeera: What are you going to share this time with aspiring entrepreneurs and academicians at BioAsia2017?
Prof. Naismith: My goal is to assist in the execution and success of the meeting.
Sabeera: Where do the great ideas come from in your organization?
Prof. Naismith: Motivated staff and listening to the customer.
Sabeera: Which is most imperative to your organisation—mission, core qualities or vision?
Prof. Naismith: First being the best in class, second is customer satisfaction.
Dr. Naismith serves as a Director of Peoples Security Bank and the Life Sciences Greenhouse of Central PA, a Trustee of the William Harvey Research Institute, (London, UK) and a member of the Kania School of Management’s Advisory Board at the University of Scranton. In addition, Dr. Naismith is a founding member and served as Chairman of the Board of the Commonwealth Medical College a new and fully accredited allopathic medical school serving northeastern Pennsylvania. He was formerly an adjunct associate professor in the School of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. adjunct Professor at the Pennsylvania University and the University of Scranton. He currently serves as an adjunct Professor at the Commonwealth Medical College, Dr. Naismith holds a Ph.D. in genetics from the Pennsylvania State University.
Sabeera: What is one trademark that you trust each pioneer ought to have?
Prof. Naismith: Passion and confidence.
Sabeera: What is the greatest test that confronting pioneers today?
Prof. Naismith: The fear of failure and the unwillingness to take the risk.
Sabeera: What is the one attribute/trait that you have seen crash more pioneers’ career?
Prof. Naismith: The failure to craft a business plan which results in the lack of focus. Spending more than you have and the inability to be creative and execute with often insufficient resources. They need to stay focused and not be distracted.
Sabeera: What are the couple of assets you would prescribe to somebody hoping to pick up understanding into improving as a pioneer?
Prof. Naismith: Don’t be afraid of failure but realize it is painful. Be passionate in what you do.
Sabeera: What advice would you give somebody going into an administration position surprisingly
Prof. Naismith: Stay close to the science. At the end of the day science is what counts in this field.
Sabeera: “NND Biomedical Sciences” – India, was co-founded along with your daughter. Do you support Women empowerment in STEM?
Prof. Naismith: Women are half of our intellect. We have too long ignored this deep talent pool not only in science but politics and business. We need to find ways to accommodate the demands put on women including the career impact of parenting but at the same time benefit by their god given talents.
Sabeera: Please give your feedback on our startup “Bio standups”
Prof. Naismith: Bio standups is a noble venture that is essential in creating and promoting the culture of entrepreneurism in India.
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