Entrepreneur Cathy Tie says starting a business is ‘an art’

Cathy Tee considers herself an artist. But not oil paints in the form of canvas.

The 26-year-old from Toronto, Canada, founded his first company, Ranomics, at the age of 18. Provides health risk predictions based on people’s genetic information and has now raised more than $1 million, according to Crunchbase. At age 23, he founded his second company, Locke Bio, a “Shopify” for pharmaceuticals and other companies selling FDA-approved drugs.

For Tie, art and creativity are not like writing in iambic pentameter or dancing at Lincoln Center. It’s about seeing the big picture across the various industries it’s part of and being “interdisciplinary.” and marry concepts from different industries,” he says.

“I’ve always loved bringing ideas together and seeing connections that others don’t,” he says, like figuring out how to advance science in the startup world and build business models accordingly. “It’s, I think, more of an artistic and creative process than a technical thing.”

Here’s how the Los Angeles-based entrepreneur has relied on creative thinking and big-picture thinking to find success in fields like technology and science.

Tie was emailing professors at age 14

Tie started learning about his fields early in his high school years.

“I’ve always loved science, especially biology and chemistry, I’ve loved hands-on since I was a very young child,” she says. But he noticed that the curriculum of the subjects they were taught in school did not include much practical learning. On the contrary, it was a lot of memorization from textbooks.

Always a big picture thinker, it was in his freshman year of high school that Tay decided to start cold emailing professors at the University of Toronto to see if they would allow him to spend time in their labs, do some research, and help them with a project here and there.

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His university work led him to publish his first article in a peer-reviewed journal in immunology, which deals with the human immune system, at the age of 16.

It also made him realize: “In research, especially academia, you’re bound by the academic grant system,” he says. That is, if he wanted to continue researching in that world, he would be limited. But getting funded as an entrepreneur gives him the freedom to do whatever research he wants.

He was accepted into the programs of young entrepreneurs

As Tie began to connect the dots on his way through the startup world, he also turned to programs that could help him implement the concept.

Tie had the basic idea for Ranomics, a solution to some of the problems companies like 23andMe faced when it came to the accuracy of their genetic testing, when he was a freshman at the University of Toronto. He and co-founder Leo Wang, Ph.D. student at the university, through a startup competition and both were accepted into IndieBio, a startup program that provides funding and mentorship to entrepreneurs in science.

Tie dropped out of college and moved to San Francisco to pursue this opportunity, becoming CEO of Ranomics in its first three years. He was also invited to apply and was subsequently admitted The Thiel Scholarship, which provides $100,000 in grants directly (not to their business) over two years, to young entrepreneurs transitioning or leaving college.

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“During the journey of building Ranomics, I learned a lot about startups, sales to pharma, and how to build a profitable company,” he says. All this will happen in his later works.

Start Shopify for Pharmacy

At the age of 21, Tie was offered as a partner in Cervin Ventures, a venture capital fund focused on enterprise services as software or SaaS, technology like Salesforce and Slack.

After a year there, she felt the urge to rebuild and decided to explore opportunities in the digital health space, combining SaaS and the scientific world she knew. And Tee realized that there is no simple way to build an online store for those who want to sell FDA-approved drugs in a convenient way, Shopify for pharmaceutical companies.

“Shopify has really taken on the challenge that everyone needs to build their websites [customer relationship management software]They built payment processing from scratch and a platform where you don’t have to be technical,” he says, adding, “We’re doing the same for healthcare and online pharmacy.”

According to PitchBook, Locke Bio is currently backed by three venture capital funds in the US and Canada, but is not publicly sharing fundraising details at this time.

“When you don’t have time to think, you don’t really see the bigger picture”

Tie is excited about the future of Locke Bio and the various product expansions he and his team have planned. But the success of the company and all the successes that came before it did not pass without obstacles.

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“I think really early in my career I definitely stepped on the gas hard and worked those hard hours, like 100 hours a week,” he says. But, “I found that it was unsustainable because when you don’t have time to reflect, you don’t really see the bigger picture.”

This is where the artist’s mind came into play.

“Like when artists make music, inspiration comes at random hours of the day. It could be 2 a.m. when you’re taking a shower,” he says. But he must make time for those idle hours when ideas can flow freely.

These days, he puts in those long days during the week, but otherwise, Tie makes sure to work at least 40 hours a week to make up for that time off.

“It’s about taking these sprints, doing them at the right time and then being able to reflect on everything I’ve learned,” he says.


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