Interview by Ashley P Holmes, Attorney, Vandeventer Black LLP
Practichem is a producer of cutting-edge biotech instruments that are designed to simplify user experiences and streamline laboratory work spaces. We talked with Practichem’s founder and CEO, Nick Demarco, to find out more about how this company plans to fulfill its vision of “creating a world where biological research tools are friendly, accessible, and affordable.”
What needs to happen to make the Triangle one of the top 5 centers for innovation?
To become top 5 for me, Raleigh must foster more home grown investment funds. Also, Raleigh must learn to retain startups versus letting them get acquired and assimilated. We'll need grizzly pros to counsel the enthusiastic young thinkers.
Practichem moved to the Triangle from Madison, Wisconsin. Why did you choose to move your business to the Triangle?
1) The startup culture is pervasive. I discuss startups at social events, kids sporting events, etc. These are good and balanced conversations — meaning I'm transmitting AND receiving information.
2) The government, which reflects the populous, encourages innovative thinkers. Compared to other areas, the government encourages innovation and seeks ways to support those who are taking the risks versus shying away from supporting new ideas.
3) The talent pool. NC State, UNC, Duke, Meredith, Peace, etc. are producing talented workers imbued with the local culture of innovation. The existing workforce is also comfortable with innovative companies and the associated thinking.
What’s your vision for your company in the next 5 years?
We are changing the way scientists interact with scientific instruments. In five years, we will have changed how they buy and own instruments, too.
What are you reading (or what do you recommend for other entrepreneurs)? Listening to? Watching?
I read biographies, especially older biographies. Benjamin Franklin, Nikola Tesla, and Henry Ford are among my top favorites. Innovation isn't new. Focus on geniuses from the past before obsessing about Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, etc. History has yet to judge Musk or Bill Gates, but there are very few people from a thousand years ago who you will remember. If you know about those people, they’re really special.
What's the biggest challenge Practichem has experienced on its journey to become a leader in the biotech instrument sector? Any advice to other entrepreneurs?
Everyone should know this, but it’s different to live it: Focus on building a great core team. Find the best, most effective people you can. Don't settle for anything less. The best people aren't always the ones with the highest grades and the best resumes. Get great at assessing capability and character.
In terms of hiring, one of the biggest challenges for me personally is waiting to hire the right person rather than just hiring to fill a need. Don’t hire someone prematurely for the wrong reasons. You can waste a lot of money on people who can't or won't work well.