A successful leader is versatile and they lead people as well as help them to perform their tasks better. They should have the ability to deal pressure situations efficiently and lead their team towards success.
One such open-minded person with the goal to become a creative leader is Olga Grudniak, the Chief Executive Officer at Biolumo. She started in Biolumo and combining her knowledge and expertise in biotechnology and the business helped her shape the project a lot. She is trying to understand some parts like coding, electronics, and the technical part of their device.
A Resilient and Confident Entrepreneur
Olga’s career path changed a lot in the past six years. She started off wanting to become a cardiovascular surgeon and for two years prepared for the same. In high school, she signed for a team competition made by MIT called iGEM. The goal was to promote synthetic biology by, for example, inventing a way to degrade plastic or create bacteria which produce electricity.
They started their own project trying to make a new protein which could be used for treating infections with multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. A big part of the competition was to raise fund from sponsorship to travel to the US and present the project. To do that, she met Wojciech Giżowski – the current COO and CTO of Biolumo and Jakub Wysocki – the CMO. They taught her about fundraising and commercialization. As a result, the team gave up the competition and focused on developing a new generation drug.
Eventually, she decided to focus on becoming biotechnologist. After two years, Olga first became the project manager, and then the CEO of Biolumo. This time she did not abandon the idea of becoming a biotechnology specialist, but also decided to educate herself more about business and economy.
Olga’s Source of Inspiration
“As it comes to a role model, to be honest, I do not have one” says Olga. There are a lot of people she admires like Michał Sadowski – CEO of Brand24. Olga was raised to pave her own path, and look for inspirations in other people. She believes in going her own way and making her own mark.
Biolumo is a MedTech company which aims to help doctors prescribe proper antibiotics. Currently, general practitioners are prescribing 74% of antibiotics, yet every solution that might help them prescribe a right antibiotic is beyond their reach. Hence, the company decided to provide these practitioners with a device that is fast enough to test every patient and is affordable for doctors and patients, also in long perspective for governments/healthcare providers.
Overcoming Challenges and Learning along the Way
Olga feels that leading a healthcare startup as a young scientist was the biggest challenge both for her and Biolumo. “Investors are often asking if the Wojciech or Jakub is the CEO and they are often surprised when we say it is me” she says. She started her career as an entrepreneur with Biolumo. She gathered some knowledge and experience about business from home as her father is a serial entrepreneur.
“Being a woman does not make it easier of course” says Olga. The company came across investors that ignored her existence during meetings or asked Wojciech and Jakub if they do not mind that a woman is a CEO. They were often underestimated. Olga and her team found it hard to establish them as trustworthy and experienced. Eventually, they had a lot of success and have established trust points like partnerships with big players on the market.
Remarkable Moments of Life
Olga considers three moments to be very memorable in her life. The first one was at the beginning of her career, when she received a VC grant for development of new generation drug for MRSA. Another remarkable moment for her was when Biolumo got in the Startupbootcamp acceleration program in Berlin, and eventually, one of the best accelerators in the world was interested in investing their time and money into their project. She also considers the recent event memorable when the company was named the ‘Healthcare Leaders 2018’ by the 25 most influential Polish healthcare key opinion leaders.
Biolumo thriving under Astute Leadership
“It is flattering thinking that all that Biolumo achieved in the last 3 years is thanks to my leadership but it was and still is a team effort” asserts Olga. She says that Wojciech – COO and CTO – put a lot of work to establish most of their partnerships and gather market insights. She thanks Jakub, their CMO for working on the brand and PR, thanks to which they are receiving positive responses from investors. Olga states that without Marcin, the Chief Science Officer in Biolumo there would not be any innovation and product. She further adds “All that we accomplished – Startupbootcamp acceleration program, given Healthcare Leaders Award, second place at InfoShare Startup Contest, signing our partners – it is all thanks to great teamwork”.