Colleen Cutcliffe has proven that when you have a passion for solving a big problem and are willing to let others help, anything is possible.
So far Colleen’s startup has raised nearly $60M from amazing investors like Khosla, Sequoia and True Ventures. They’ve just released the world’s first and only microbiome intervention for type 2 diabetes, which has been clinically proven to lower A1C and post-meal glucose response.
Colleen and I connected for a recent episode of the DealMakers podcast. She shared how she fell into biochemistry, the secrets to fundraising and work-life balance, as well as what she has learned about the art of pitching and how to breakthrough your technical genius and bring a product to life.
Falling In Love With Science
Cutcliffe was born and raised in Atlanta. She took a tour of Wellesley College in Boston, Mass. It was fall. The leaves were changing colors. They had a lake. Being a smaller school it would provide great access to the professors. She knew it was the one.
When it came to choosing her major, and she still wasn’t sure exactly what she wanted to do, she chose what she was good at – biochemistry.
In senior year her professor recommended applying to graduate school. She got into the Ph.D. program. Then quickly discovered that science was quite different than her expectations.
It was actually a much more creative field.
You not only figure out how the world works around you, but how you can influence that world in a positive way. Especially when it comes to the intersection of science and health. It was then that Colleen fell in love with science and its possibilities.
Colleen believed in the magic of Silicon Valley and wanted to see it for herself. She is still in the Bay Area, 13 years later.
She had the chance to work with two pharmaceuticals and Pacific biosciences companies.
This taught her a lot about management, leadership styles, and growing a team.
She learned the types of people she enjoyed working with, and not. She found many ways you can impact health. Specifically where software, hardware, tech, science, and big data merge with products.
Colleen began to realize the potential of DNA sequencing and the microbiome. She saw the potential to help her own daughter who had spent the first four weeks of her life hooked up to machines in the intensive care unit.
She launched herself into Whole Biome, which has since become Pendulum Therapeutics.
Cutcliffe says she quit her job at the beginning of summer and vowed to give herself three months to raise venture capital money.
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