Eric as a teen
Founder & CEO of Labfundr
I was born/grew up in: I was born in Ottawa. I grew up near a small town called Berwick, Ontario, Canada.
I now live in: I currently live in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
I completed my training/education at: I did my undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at the University of Ottawa. Following that, I completed my PhD in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at Dalhousie University in Halifax.
Describe what you do at work.
Our goal with Labfundr is to help scientists make more discoveries. All my daily activities are focused on building awareness about Labfundr, helping people plan their campaigns and enabling the public to directly support research through crowdfunding.
That said, no two days are the same.
I spent my days communicating with many different people. Business involves a lot of talking in person, by phone, by email, text, Twitter, Skype, Facebook, and LinkedIn. You get the idea. And that’s just messages, not including actual social media posts. That’s another daily activity as well.
These interactions are with team members, scientists, CEO’s, administrators, potential investors, potential customers, advisors, the media, other startup founders and business professionals.
Other activities are a lot of research, marketing, administrative tasks, random errands, and attending educational events to learn more about running a startup.
It might sound surprising, but I use STEM skills all the time in my business activities.
Doing a PhD makes you learn how to be organized, manage your time, do presentations, think critically and creatively, and scour the internet for information you need.
On top of all that, my years of experience in the research community and exposure to how science funding works have been a huge help. In business, you need to deeply understand people’s problems to have any chance of creating a solution for them.
I regularly work on problem solving with team members, advisors and mentors. As the CEO, decisions fall at my feet, but I constantly get other people’s perspectives and insight on problems and business matters. No one person can know, or do, everything themselves. And you will get into trouble if you think you can.
In science, the best researchers are the ones who are open to give and take advice from their peers. Business is the exact same.
Lastly – and importantly – I have fun!!!
When I was a student I enjoyed:
How does your job affect people’s lives?
We help people find, fund and follow research that matters to them. In turn, we help scientists tell their story to a new audience and gain a new funding source. It’s a very fulfilling career, because I care deeply about science.
I believe that helping the public connect with researchers and feel like they are part of the team can have a big positive effect society. Bringing people together is a lot of fun.
What motivates you in your career?
I get excited because I think about the scientists who will be able to execute their plans and make new discoveries, thanks to support from the crowd. We want to help provide researchers with the place and tools to find an audience and build a long-term following.
I find relationship-building very rewarding. Wonderful things happen when you do something for which people see the broader benefits. By moving beyond simple transactional relationships – where one person simply pays another and gets something in return – you can get into a space where everyone has bought in and are all aiming toward achieving the same goal together.
This is what gets me excited - meeting people with that attitude and approach to life is extremely rewarding.
I’m not doing my own research in a lab anymore. But if our work with Labfundr can help make new discoveries possible, inspire more people to become scientists, and tell their government to fund more science, that will be just as rewarding as making my own scientific discoveries!
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
Describe your career path to this career.
My father is a scientist, so I have always been curious about the natural world. But I never could have predicted that this is what I would be doing! To be fair, crowdfunding did not exist back then, and the internet was a much different place.
Starting a company is by far the biggest change in direction for my career path. In some ways, I’ve always liked the idea of “working for myself”, but I never knew what form that would take, or what that really meant.
Frankly, deciding to start a business was very challenging. At the time, I was job-hunting for postdoctoral fellowship positions in Europe. Specifically, there were some wonderful research groups in Denmark and Sweden that I was interested joining. It was a tough decision to stop searching for a secure, well-defined job and take the plunge into entrepreneurship and uncertainty.
I think my drive to keep learning and expanding my network helped me through the early stages of making this choice. People are very supportive and happy to provide advice and introductions. But you have to ask!
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
These days I spend time with my puppy, Joni. She keeps me active. I taught Joni how to “parkour”, which is ridiculous and way too fun. Sci-fi and weird TV shows help me unwind.
I’m a longtime fan of the Raptors, Jays and Senators. It’s been a rollercoaster ride, watching their playoff runs unfold!
What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?
Attend events in your area and force yourself to network (this was very hard for me in the beginning). Beyond the local level, reach out to people you admire. People are generally quite willing to help or provide advice. But you won’t know unless you ask!