Entrepreneurship is in His DNA

Cindy Conover Dashnaw

from Spring 2018

Sixteen-hour work days? Jeremy Baldi ’09 loves them—as long as he’s spending them working for himself. 

In less than a decade, the student who majored in Biology “because it strongly interested me, not for career planning” has started two companies that are bringing significant improvements to the medical industry. In fact, he’s working with some of the most innovative players in synthetic DNA research today. 

And he’s not done yet. 

“I enjoy everything about starting companies: The challenges in the first year or two, the 16-hour days, the working weekends, the late nights. It’s an adrenaline rush, really exciting because it’s yours and you’re influencing something greater than yourself.” 

Though his formal education may not have led directly to his career choice, Baldi said the Butler experience taught him how to network, which turned out to be key to successful entrepreneurship. 

Networking led directly to the creation of Baldi’s current company. An acquaintance, Rob Moseley, was considering how to build a business around a new DNA assembly technology invented by Dr. Henrique De Paoli in Knoxville’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. 

“Unfortunately, a bottleneck still exists in R&D’s (research and development) design and build stages, which leads to increased costs and research slowdowns. That’s where we were stepping in, streamlining these stages for scientists and improving efficiencies up to tenfold,” Baldi said. “Rob and Dr. De Paoli brought the technical and scientific knowledge, and I was able to bridge the business gap: I had my Butler science background, and I’d already started one company. After a few months, Rob realized the value I would add and asked me if I was interested in becoming a co-founder.” 

He was. The two co-founders recruited a Chief Technology Officer as a third founder and formally established SimPath (simpathinnovations.com) in early 2016. Basically, researchers place orders for synthetic DNA for use in testing and SimPath builds it to their specifications, allowing research scientists to test hundreds of ideas in a fraction of the time and cost of current technology. 

Networking with an acquaintance had sparked Baldi’s first startup, too. 

“A family friend was in an industry where there was a strong need, but antiquated methods. We created a plan to take advantage of technology and analytics,” Baldi said. The startup, Archway Physician Recruitment, is a placement firm now helping hospitals and medical groups find physicians. 

Baldi said his extracurriculars at Butler University taught him valuable lessons about forming fruitful relationships. 

“I learned a lot about networking through being a fraternity President and coordinating a charity 5K race. When you’re in high school and even college, you think of networking as a buzzword. You realize when you get out of college that networking is so multi-faceted and might be the most important thing.” 

He said networking has opened many avenues to people and companies he’d never dreamed of connecting with while a Butler student: The CEO of Foundation Medicine, a global leader in connecting physicians and their patients to the latest cancer treatment approaches; the CEO of EDP Biotech, committed to developing simple, accurate and cost-effective diagnostics for early disease detection; and members of the business team at Google. 

Baldi would like to see Butler further its blend of science and business. “In the lab where we licensed our technology, for example, a lot of the scientists had no business background at all. In today’s world, everyone needs to know the basics of business. And we need to start exploiting the many avenues today’s technology gives us within the Science Department.”