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Lab to Startup

Oct 24, 2023

Chaeyoung Shin was the Co-founder and CEO of NAMUH, a startup focused on developing yeast fermentation technologies to produce human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs). HMOs are crucial, fiber-equivalent macronutrients that are currently lacking in most formulas. Integrating them in sufficient amounts could significantly close the nutritional disparity between human milk and formula.

We talk about the story behind the origin of NAMUH; transformation of Chaeyoung from a freshly minted Ph.D. to a CEO; lessons learned in that process; fundraising efforts; lessons learned from building the team; experimenting with business models; partnerships developed; realities of the markets and the forces driving the adoption (or not); and the unfortunate shutting down of the startup

-  NAMUH is HUMAN read in reverse
-  Developing yeast fermentation technologies to produce human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs)
-  HMOs help build the gut microbiome of babies and basically set them up for life
-  Babies are born with pristine gut, without a microbiome
-  Applied for a job and ended up becoming a co-founder
-  Stigma behind scientists becoming CEOs
-  Team building was hard
-  Hiring decisions based on fear and lessons learned
-  Support system
-  Bringing on a business leader on to the team
-  Startup incubator journey
-  Being an immigrant+scientist+female founder
-  Lessons learned from working with investors
-  Getting advice: signal vs noise
-  Experimentation with business models
-  Working with infant formula companies
-  Regulations: Maybe the bar is too low
-  Role of pricing
-  Mistakes that other founders could learn from