Recently, Shari Chiara, an Ecosystem Development Marketing Manager with IBM, caught up with Scott Megill, CEO of Coriell Life Sciences, to talk with him about his startup company’s experiences at last year’s SmartCamp North American regionals and the global finals. Below is an excerpt taken from the interview.
Shari Chiara: After winning the North American regional final, you went on to win the whole thing (IBM SmartCamp Global Finals). Looking back on it now, what was the value for Coriell Life Sciences in regards to the global finals and the Global Entrepreneurial Program?
Scott Megill: It was a great experience for us, no doubt about it. We learned a lot from the mentors that were part of the program itself in a very constructive way. The way I describe it to the people who ask what IBM SmartCamp is, is that it was sort of like American Idol for Entrepreneurs.
Shari Chiara: Very good analogy!
Scott Megill: They (IBM Global Entrepreneur Program team) combed the globe trying to find companies, and then it sort of got winnowed down through these various competitions, and ultimately to this panel of judges that were sitting there, looking at a very small facet of the business.
But what happened on stage was the tip of the iceberg because it was preceded by all this mentoring that we went through twice – first through the national and then the global competition. At the global finals, we got an opportunity to sit in front of some really experienced and deep thinking people about how you build a businesses.
And we got poked and prodded, and every little aspect of our business was sort of put up to the light. For us, this was great because we got to feel really validated by a lot of the things that we’d been doing. But it also highlighted some weaknesses in our story.
So as we left the North American regionals, we felt like we had a better way of actually communicating what we’re doing, and telling the story. We then went off and raised another $1 million based on what we learned from that competition. Just taking the crispness and the story refinement that we learned at the North American regionals out to further investors, we picked up another dozen angel investors and brought in another million bucks, and all that.
And, that clearly was an outcome for us just of the North American regional finals.
Now having won the global finals, well one, I’m getting inundated with press, which is fantastic. You know, the more we can get the word out there, the better. But what it’s really done I think most importantly for us recently has been to cement the relationship with IBM. We were certainly knocking on the door of a lot of different aspects of IBM for a long time. This has been a door opener for us in a way that we didn’t really have before.
At IBM Pulse, I had dinner with Steve Mills (IBM Senior VP) and then a one-on-one with him. I don’t think that’s something that would’ve occurred had we not gone through the Global Entrepreneur Program.
Scott shares his thoughts on Cloud at IBM Pulse 2014
What’s next for Coriell Life Sciences? Scott will be at IBM Impact next week (April 27th to May 1) – speaking during the Tuesday morning “Made with IBM” General Session in front of thousands of attendees!
For more information about Coriell Life Sciences, and their partnership with IBM, check out these blog links:
For information on how you and your startup can partner with IBM, visit our Global Entrepreneur Program web site.