Cathy Tie was 18 when she founded Ranomics, her first startup, an achievement that caught the attention of billionaire Peter Thiel. His second company, Locke Bio, is bringing the Shopify model to digital healthcare.
My motivation for Excel started early. By the time he was in high school, he was working with professors in the immunology department at the University of Texas. After graduation, I went on to study in the molecular genetics department of the school, working on rare genetic mutations. So I came up with the idea for my first start-up, Ranomics. It is a company focused on improving the accuracy of genetic testing and the ability to assess a person’s risk of disease.
At 18, he was eager to try new things and wanted to change the world along the way. I spent countless nights in my bedroom writing my business plan. Finally, I was accepted IndieBio, a San Francisco-based start-up incubator that offered $ 100,000 in seed capital, along with the opportunity to network with people, do more research in the lab, and improve the product. A year later, I was selected for the Thiel Scholarship, an annual program created by PayPal billionaire co-founder Peter Thiel, which provided $ 100,000 in funding and two years of dedicated mentorship to a select group of young entrepreneurs. The problem was, I had to drop out of school to focus on business. It was not an easy decision. My parents were strict and expected me to follow a traditional path. But in the end, I did. It took more courage than intellect.
After the show ended, I went back to Toronto to establish Ranomics. We offer genetic test analysis and gene mutation libraries for protein and enzyme engineering. Our clients included Mount Sinai Hospital and the Beijing Genomics Institute.
I stepped down as CEO of Ranomics in 2017 and created my second startup, Locke Bio, two years later. I realized that despite their tremendous growth, digital health brands lacked the software they needed to launch and scale effectively. So my team created back-end technology that they could use to establish a telehealth business quickly and affordably. Any eHealth company that wants to set up a direct-to-consumer platform can do so through our software; the process is as simple as setting up a Shopify store. Our software makes it easy for them to manage payments, dispense medications, personalize patient intake forms, and schedule appointments. Patients are as comfortable with dispensing prescriptions as they are with shopping online. In the past year, we have received funding from investors such as 23andMe’s Anne Wojcicki, 10x Capital, and Origins Pharmacy.
“Patients are as comfortable with dispensing prescriptions as they are with shopping online.”
My personal philosophy is always to ask, “Why are we doing this?” I have been surrounded by people who were afraid of failure. I had to suppress that instinct and force myself to take risks, defy the rules, and move forward without fear. Looking back, things have happened that I once thought were impossible. And that positive feedback loop helps me keep going.
I was able to organically learn how to run a business, raise capital, and run operations while still a teenager. I didn’t learn that in any school. I am grateful to my support system, the people who spent their time teaching me about business, and I intend to pay that to future entrepreneurs.
Locke Bio is growing rapidly. The first time I saw people placing orders on our Slack channel, they would come every two minutes. My journey has always consisted of small triumphs like that, fleeting moments of happiness before you realize that there is still a lot of work to be done.