Friday, Nov. 20, 2009 | The life of a biotech entrepreneur is always filled with uncertainty. But these days it is downright terrifying.
At no time in recent history has it been harder for companies to find new money to fund new discoveries, and it’s becoming harder and harder for them to keep money that has already been pledged to them.
Martin Sabarsky is living this harsh life. The chief operating officer of the 5-year-old HR BioPetroleum — an algae biofuel start-up with operations in both Hawaii and San Diego — is the epitome of today’s early-stage biotech executive.
The 39-year-old lives out of a suitcase while presiding over a virtual company, and has become more accustomed than he ever thought he would to the word “no.”
And he considers himself one of the lucky ones. His company is in the clean tech industry, which, relatively speaking, is hot right now. He is based in San Diego, a hub for algae biofuel research. And HR BioPetroleum has a long-term partnership with oil behemoth Royal Dutch Shell, something that his competitors would kill for.
But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Sabarsky took some time out recently to tell us just what it’s like out there.