Trevor Martin is one of those founders whose startup just happened to launch in time to meet the needs catapulted to the forefront by the COVID outbreak.
During our interview on the DealMakers podcast, Trevor shared insights from his journey. Including finding cofounders by cold email, how things are changing for biotech startups, fundraising, startup accelerators and incubators, what’s next in tackling pandemic virus and the most important things to spend your time on as a founder.
Trevor Martin was born in Atlanta, Georgia. How parents were both hi-tech workers, with careers in software and chemistry.
He says he always loved chemistry and physics. It was when he went off to Princeton for college that he discovered his passion for biology too.
Princeton had just begun offering a new program on integrated science. A program that brought together the fields of chemistry, physics, math, and computer science, and demonstrating their application for making advances in biology.
Through his undergrad research, he found a new fascination with computational and quantitative biology.
While others went into consulting or dove into different sciences, most of Trevor’s cohort from this program went on to grad school. He chose to pursue his Ph.D. at the Hunter Fraser Lab at Stanford.
It was during this time that the idea for Mammoth Biosciences emerged.
The Search Engine For Biology
Between watching new synthetic biology tools being developed, publishing his research and exploring fields where these sciences came together Martin says he came across some papers published by a notable professor on genomes and diagnostic testing that changed everything.
He reached out to those involved by cold email, and Lucas and Jancie ultimately joined Mammoth as CTO and CSS on graduating from Berkley.
It all started with leveraging CRISPR for diagnostic tools. What this founder calls a “kind of a search engine for biology.” A tool that can be used to find any type of DNA and RNA and then engage with it through diagnostics or editing, and even turning genes on or off, including building the next generation of CRISPR proteins.
Biotech Startups & Startup Accelerators
Biotech startups have traditionally been even more notoriously capital intensive than other categories. However, in the past few years the ecosystem for entrepreneurs in this space has been evolving and there is a lot more support than there used to be.
You might not need an office for a biotech startup, but you do need a lab to start experimenting. Trevor told the audience that cities which have become famous startup hubs like Boston and San Fran have also seen new types of labs popping up. Think coworking for biotech entrepreneurs. A space where founders and even high schoolers and others passionate about science can go play and experiment without having to spend millions on building their own labs yet.
Trevor says that and couchsurfing let him put all his time, effort and finances into the work to gain those critical proof points.
He then took Mammoth through an accelerator at Stanford. He said he found it incredibly valuable for handling the steep learning curve that comes with entrepreneurship. Something that academics and Ph.D.s can especially struggle with. It was through this program and the resulting demo day that led to a connection that turned into a meeting with an NFX investor in his backyard garage. That parlayed into a stint with the NFX Accelerator to move things even further along, and the start of raising $75M across several funding rounds.
Storytelling is everything which is something that Trevor was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) where the most critical slides are highlighted.
Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
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