Jared Resnick of Precision Fermentation

An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Jared Resnick (founder and CEO) of Precision Fermentation, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of Precision Fermentation – what problem were you trying to solve and why?

Through some friends, I had the opportunity to meet some Duke researchers who were developing interesting capabilities in computational biology. I was fascinated by the mathematical models they were developing to understand complex biological data sets. What was clear to me was that they weren’t thinking about where these models could be used and what the commercial applications were. It was a straightforward “technology transfer” problem.

So, largely out of curiosity, I started to do some research on what they’d built and I spoke with people in various industries where their modeling had some crossover. It turned out fermentation is an extremely common process that provides data that can benefit from the modeling. I started to look at beer and other beverages, pharmaceuticals, and biofuels where fermentation is key. There were many more, but in talking to production personnel and scientists in these three spaces, it was clear that while they relied heavily on fermentation for production, they had very little data about what was going on in their fermentations or how they could optimize the process to improve their products, processes and profitability. We took that idea and decided to focus on the beer and beverage industry, and create a solution to help brewers optimize their fermentation processes to improve product consistency and production efficiencies. We attacked the problem from two sides – how do we collect the data, and then how do we derive conclusions that can benefit the producer. Five-plus years later, here we are. Now we are live with more than 200 breweries, have assisted on almost 4,000 fermentations so far, and we’re continuing to expand rapidly.

What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?

One of the biggest challenges has been building acceptance of a technology that is replacing techniques and practices that have been in place for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Change is hard, and changing practices that are so embedded in a very hand-crafted product process is really hard. We’re looking at what we do as an evolution, not a revolution. We have invested a lot of time in developing customers as advocates to help us sway the minds and hearts of our prospects.

What does the future hold for Precision Fermentation?

We want to change the way commercial fermentation is managed globally. We have started in commercial brewing and have more than 200 customers. But, fermentation is a process in many industries (pharmaceuticals, biofuels, proteins) and our solution can be used in all of these. We aim to “evolutionize” fermentation in multiple industries around the world over the next five years.

What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Durham?

I love the mix of creativity and technical prowess that the Durham tech scene provides. Unlike other tech hubs, Durham has a unique creative community that is intertwined with the technical community to create amazing startups. Sure we are short on capital, but we are long on talent and passion and creativity, and are showing successes that couldn’t have emerged anywhere else.

What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Surround yourself with smart people and understand that you don’t have to have all the answers yourself. A team is stronger than any individual, so get the best people you can.

Also, get a great accountant or CFO. You have to know your numbers, and know your numbers are right, no matter what, from day one.


For more exclusive interviews, see our full Profile of a Founder series