An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Mark Kiel, the co-founder and Chief Science Officer of Genomenon, which was honored in our:
- 2020 Best Tech Startups in Ann Arbor
- 2019 Best Tech Startups in Ann Arbor
- 2018 Best Tech Startups in Ann Arbor
Tell us the origin story of Genomenon – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
Genomenon means “born out of need” in Greek, so I thought it fitting as I built the prototype tools that have since evolved into our product suite because I needed them in my clinical practice and research work. Specifically, it was very time-consuming to repeatedly go out to the various databases of published scientific information, so instead, I wrote programs to have the data come to me.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
Like nearly all but the most fortunate entrepreneurs, we have faced hurdles in the development and scaling of the company. One hurdle was customer education – we were launching into the market a unique way to approach solving their problems, and had done such an effective job solving it that there was significant disbelief we had to overcome initially. But beyond this, the real challenge was dealing with the many and frequent little challenges that would crop up along the way, each requiring their own unique solutions to overcome.
What does the future hold for Genomenon?
We have a significant market share in our industry, and continue to scale. Revenue is becoming easier to generate as we are expanding within our existing accounts and having more and more inbound leads as word of mouth has spread. We have achievable plans to complete our vision of an accurate and efficient evidence-based genome interpretation platform, and are expanding our partnerships with clinical and commercial partners to see that vision come to life.
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Ann Arbor?
I feel fortunate to be part of such a thriving community of talented and driven individuals. The quality and breadth of the companies and technologies that have emerged and continue to form is remarkable. The support from local universities and angel investors has been instrumental in the success of Genomenon, for which I am grateful.
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
I have heard it said that entrepreneurs should fall in love with the problem they are solving and not the product that they have conceived for it, so the focus can remain on building and launching the best possible solution for the chosen problem. I’d add to that advice by emphasizing that starting and running a company is hard, and that it is every bit as useful before you begin that you give consideration to the process of founding and running a start-up. Thinking about the process up front is a hallmark of a seasoned and successful entrepreneur.
See also our interview with Steve Schwartz of Genomenon