If you’re squeamish about needles, you’ll be delighted to know that Portal Instruments is developing technology that will allow needle-free injections of important medications through the skin. It’s especially important for people with chronic conditions that require constant injections.
Portal’s CEO and co-founder, Dr. Patrick Anquetil is DOING THIS. He’s a scientist and engineer who is also able to see the world through the lens of business, allowing him to spot opportunity in a very important industry.
It’s a great example of how business – and even profit – can drive the development of technology with the potential to help millions of people.
We talk about it, how they got to this point, and much more, including…
- How to protect breakthrough inventions with the government’s help
- The hardest part of running a startup – and how to overcome it
- Fundraising tips for getting the capital you need
- Why his education takes a backseat, even in this highly specialized industry
- And more
Mentioned in this episode:
Jay Sparks: Hello, this is Jay Sparks, your host of Finding Unique Value where I interview business leaders that have found unique value in their businesses or industry that others have not yet seen or explored. And today, I’m excited to be joined by Dr. Patrick Anquetil from France. So he is a Parisian by birth, and a Bostonian by choice, so we get the claim him to now. He’s a CEO and co-founder of Portal Instruments, which is currently working on a needle-free injector. He’s also co-founded two other companies, and also worked in similar fields.
And the success in business and science is not surprising seeing that he has an equally impressive educational background, which includes a master’s degree in nanotechnology from the University of Tokyo, a PhD in mechanical engineering from MIT, and he’s also a graduate of Harvard Business School. So I’m looking forward to understanding from Patrick exactly how he sees value through his science and business lenses. So with that, welcome to the podcast. Patrick, it’s great to be speaking with you.
Patrick Anquetil: Thank you, Jay. It’s a pleasure to be here. And thank you for the invitation for us to be here.
Jay: Great, great. Well, you know, I really can’t do your accomplishments, justice. And what I said was just skimming the surface, could you please just take a minute and give us you know, kind of your background, any detail do you think would help us give some context, and then we can talk about what you’re, you know what you’re doing?
Patrick: Happy to do that. So I think I was always fascinated with machines and with mechanics. And so when its time came to do universities, I enrolled basically, at the university in Zurich, actually, the Zurich has a school much like MIT, it’s called the Swiss for the Art Institute of Technology. German acronym is ETH and still enrolled there. And basically, you know, did my studies, they’re focusing on nanotechnology at the time, which was quite unusual, because very few universities actually were offering it as a course, then actually decided at the at the end of my Masters, which, as you said, directly at that University of Tokyo, what you know, was this the end of my studies, and I said, I wanted to pursue more in-depth of knowledge, and so enrolled at MIT to do a PhD. When I came to MIT, which was about 20 years ago, very much as I suppose a little bit here, but it was in the middle of the .com, boom, everyone was starting a company less than life and changed the course of my life. Because fast forward 20 years later, not only I’m still in Boston, I started three companies. And in fact, believe it or not, my first job was actually not even in engineering, it actually worked in finance. And then as you said, as well, eventually ended up enrolling at Harvard Business School to kind of gain all the necessary business skills to start businesses. And now I must mastered my third company. And you so I was born and bred in Paris, but no, really, truly I cannot imagine being anywhere.
Jay: Wow, no, that’s, that’s incredible. Well, there’s, there’s, you know, hundreds of questions you just described, but what why don’t we start with, with where you are now, and why you decided to, to start the current company that you’re, that you’re working on?
Patrick: Sure, so days, so the entrepreneur always looks for an area or a field that’s overlooked, or an application that’s overlooked, but very, very relevant. And so and so here in okay, there were a couple of things that happened. So so just there are two ways actually to start companies and, and I don’t think one is better than the other. So one is to start with a big market and to figure out, hey, you know, can I find a solution to address the problem in the market? Or the other way is that there’s some cool tech that’s been developed somewhere and you try to find a market? I think the latter is happening more often. Sometimes it has a bad reputation, because again, the business folks, you know, like, Hey, you know, if there’s no application, what value is there, really in that technology, but I think oftentimes, you know, the scientific discoveries and engineering work, pushing basically a certain area further and may not have directly an application.
And so anyway, so we and there’s nothing wrong with that, I think, I think because many years down the line, whatever was invented and discovered, ends up being actually used somewhere happened all along. In fact, in in the area of physics, for example, the theory typically is like decades ahead of the practice, even in this, this past year, of Einstein’s prediction, finally, we’re able to be measured. So anyway, so I don’t think it’s any bad way. So it gets a four-two, there was technology at MIT, that actually one of my former PhD advisors had been working on and he kind of, you know, called me one day say, Hey, you know, trigger have this, this really cool technology is ready for prime time. It’s got someone attached to it and wants to fund it. And so you should take a look at it. And she should help me start a company. And what’s interesting with this technology, it’s basically an injection technology to inject needle-free so without a needle. And what’s interesting about it is it’s a platform technology, you can inject anything anywhere, anytime.
And really the first thing you have to do, then as the business person wants, of course, you want to see the technology, its limitations benefit is to narrow it down to her practical application. So that’s what we’ve done. We realized that in a field of injections, there was a huge unmet need for patients with chronic diseases, who needed to inject themselves on a chronic basis. With a biologic. Biologic is a drug. And it’s typically an injectable. And in terms of volume D injected, it will be a budget to see vaccines back to back. So huge unmet need, in that everyone hates needles, dose injection, very uncomfortable, and then also be injected tends to be very viscous. And so a patient needs to be mentored in some ways. This is where we could have physically had the full package with a device that’s needed a tweet that actually augments the patient. And then basically, they can go on with your life. Once I’ve done the injection.
Jay: No, well, I can see how the patient would love this. Right? Particularly if you have you have some sort of aversion to, to needles. But why? Why would Why is your company able to solve this? And no one else has been able to solve this yet? Because it seems like it would be we’ve had this technology probably for a while. What did you do differently over the last couple of years?
The Needle-Free Injector
Patrick: Okay, that’s a great question, because it’s actually really an interesting, interesting response there. So people hadn’t been trying to do this for literally decades. So let me describe how it works. And then go back into history as to what people did and what worked or didn’t work. So here’s the idea, you basically pressurize the drug, and then you let it flow through a very fine RSS or not. And basically, as a drug close to that nozzle, there’s a very fine jet that gets created. And then just travels Of course, because of the pressure Trevor’s because of high speed. To give you a sense, the size of the jet is a third of the diamond, aka typically means that very small, it’s also very fast. And basically, as the jest of drug touches the skin, it basically creates enough pressure that the direction and going through the skin and into the subcutaneous space. So it’s pretty cool. It sounds completely out of Star Trek. But actually, the physics of it is is is actually quite, quite simple.
And the challenge was that no one can make it work. So the original idea came in the 30s, people were playing with hydraulic lines. In those lines, sometimes invariably, they’ll be a like a leech, basically some squirting out, some folks will try to put their thumb to actually close the hole, and then it will end up with a bit of oil into their thumb. You could do a delivery system like that, and that would be cool. I suppose I’ve been working on this, the challenge comes in the following and in how you control the jet through time, and also how you shape the jet. It’s actually very hard to shape a jet in the form of police mean, like very, very animated, like, like a straight line, you don’t do that you have an injection. And so people didn’t know actually the physics of that and how to shape that.
And then the second point is, how do you control the jet switch that you have always, at any given time, you have sort of the optimal parameter in terms of velocity to continuously, you know, sort of pushing the drug into the patient, the amazing thing is as follows. So in our case, we’re actually using a computer control system. So the device measures how much has come out, it compensates for any variation of the viscosity of the drug, for example, or any other physical parameter. And you always end up with the same injection. And here’s the most interesting thing is that typically, for Biologics, you end up with very large volume that you need to inject like two to three times the volume of the vaccines, we did an injection in about point 2.3 seconds, oh, boom, it’s done before you even realized what’s happened. And you can go on with your life. If you were to do this with any length of time, it would take you at least 10 seconds to do that.
Jay: That’s incredible. So I don’t understand the physics well enough to ask a detailed question on that. But I assume that all of this is already patented, so you don’t have to worry about that. And you have the right. FDA approvals. Is that already part of the process? Or is that still something to come?
FDA Approval Process
Patrick: Correct. Yes. So in terms of patents, you’re right that in this area of biotech, or medical devices, where there is a need of tremendous amount of capital to basically move the product along, you need some form of protection, or you don’t want to create something and have someone steal it from you. And so so patents become one way to actually protect that. So we, we basically assembled a portfolio of about 100, patents and patent application. So everything is together about the device from its shape to how it works, to some design features. All of that is basically patented. And external, that estate basically comes from MIT. So we took a license from this, this laboratory at MIT, that’s exclusive worldwide. And so we able to basically some get some of the similar patterns. And then we build on that, and then added the other two sets of patents on top of that.
Jay: That’s incredible. So you know, and you spoke about, you know, kind of one of the things that kill a lot of businesses at this stage is the capital. So how were you able to, to raise that? And was that a, you know, a, you know, a full-time job, you at some point like it is for some, some CEOs and founders? Or is this something that was set up in advance? You had a, you know, a source, private equity or some other source that could it was willing to fund this?
Patrick: That’s a great question. So I’m raising and making sure that there’s enough capital, it’s kind of the only job of the CEO or the founder arriving without capital, you cannot do anything. Converse, if you’re not able to raise money, then you’re not in the right place, but you’re not in the right job. And interestingly, I see, fundraising is probably the hardest thing that you can do. Because you know, it’s very intellectual. You’re trying to convince another human being, oftentimes just with an idea of PowerPoint slides, official form of very rarely do you actually even have a prototype to actually show that they should, you know, Depart with their money, their hard-earned money and invested in into your entity, because there are many good prospects for growth of that capital.
So it is I think, it’s very hard. Also, conversely, there isn’t a school, there is no way you can learn it from books, you basically learn by doing. And that’s where actually being in an environment that content Cisco, or here in Boston, puts you at a tremendous advantage because there’s so much capital that’s around. And there are also people there was there, we can actually kind of show you the way. In my case, I was very fortunate. One of my mentors is a gentleman named Stan Lapidus. Stan is sort of the legend in the diagnostic field here in Boston and started a company called psychic in a pap smear area. So they all own medical diagnostics, companies and the exact sciences that kind of had reverse and it’s doing fantastic. Then he goes, and, and together with him, we did kinetics, which was a company doing genetic testing in the field of autism, trying to detect the onset of autism and energy has families basically, you know, address the needs of those kids actually, early on, so. So fundraising is harder. You do it by practice.
And there’s never enough and so many funny anecdotes, because, as I mentioned, you know, that project actually came up that was someone who wanted to achieve in fund there was a strategic investor, wanting to actually fund that entity, because that sponsored from research at MIT, so I thought, she, this is the best scenario possible, you know, you’re going to, we’re going to raise, you know, $20 million in two months. And we can go and do stuff. It took us a year and a half, we said investors to actually get it done. And we only raised half the money and let you bring two other investors to actually get to that point. So it’s always hard. I wish it were simple. And if anyone has had great stories, and great and great advice on how to do that, I’m always happy to learn. I do think it’s the hardest thing, but eventually, it’s the venture has some promise, eventually it does get done. And then
Jay: Yeah, well, I think this is your engineering background, right? You just a problem that you can figure out just got to keep, you know, changing the variables. Right. And so you get the right, the right combination. But but that leads me to my next question, because I was watching, you know, a quick interview you did? And I was kind of surprised. I wasn’t surprised by the question was surprised by your answer, given your back background? And the question was, essentially, you know, what’s the kind of what’s, what’s the most important thing about starting a business? And you know, given your intellectual background, academic background, I was assuming, you know, many times, someone your position would talk about either the the education right, and having the knowledge, which was is rare.
And again, I showed you earlier, I think you’re the only person on the planet that has your specific educational background, because so unique, right? So you know, that alone is just a tremendous asset, or you also have this unbelievable experience, which is also unique. And I don’t think there may be a handful of people in the world that have your your, your experience, but your answer wasn’t either one of those. It was something completely different. You remember what your what your answer was,
Patrick: It was, it was the own unique, their own unique and background, right. And I think one thing led to another and to try to do your best method, I think I was very fortunate that some Firstly, when I started, I had no idea when I was a late teenager, I would I had no idea what I wanted to do. Even engineering to me was kind of the point seven, and my father certainly was also an engineer, influenced me greatly. So the trick you shouldn’t do, you shouldn’t do engineer, that I had no idea what it meant, actually, because I was observing, he wasn’t doing engineering was more like an engineer, and business person.
And so under that was, I was very fortunate that I think, I really found my calling. When I went to engineering school, what’s great about schools, like the eth in Zurich, or MIT or Stanford, or the, you know, great engineering school, is that they combine both the theory and the practice, and you really need that. And I think one of the things that I love about in it, don’t too, it’s like, it’s a tagline, which is men’s and manners, which means the brains and hands. And that’s the way you actually learned engineering and that idea of building, I think it’s very central to me. And it’s probably one of the reasons why I also enjoy building companies, I think it’s tremendously exciting.
One of the greatest rewards is you start from nothing, literally, like an idea. And you build something and you give actually, not only do you have meaning, and work actually to the team members and join you but also you help patients in the case of medical devices are just basically the life sciences industry. We actually have patients on the line who are in tremendous need of release, I changed some way. And that’s tremendously rewarding, actually, as well.
Jay: No, no, that’s incredible. I just brought up a couple of other points. And we’ll we’ll circle back to but I’m sorry, I got lost in my own question. I always ended up talking too much. Because I’m so if so many fascinating things. You know, I could talk to you for hours. But my point was this is we went asked, What’s the most important thing you need to start a business? Your answer was your attitude. Right, which, you know, I think we all know, intuitively, but coming from someone with your background and experience, it’s very unusual, right? Because people I think from the outside would say, Oh, it’s because you went to Harvard, or MIT or University of Tokyo and you studied, or you’ve already started a company, but it really is much simpler than that. And could you speak a little bit about why you believe that to be true? And how that is, you know, manifested itself throughout your career so far?
Patrick: Yeah, see, I think you’re absolutely right. It’s really, and you can do attitude. And I think, interestingly, a lot of it. So there is no, there is no straight line in any business. You know, even Amazon, which is called the most successful company right now. You know, back in 2002, they were kind of left for dead. about to die? And are they kind of running kind of one of your own lives. So I think I think it’s all about tenacity, and managing your own psyche, basically all along. And I think but in particular, for people that are action-driven and results-driven, I think it’s I think it’s a great, you know, it’s a great environment. It’s a great premise, and then the, the famous Einstein, you know, it’s it’s basically 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration? I think that’s very true. And, of course, you know, I think I think here, the central thing that that holds it all together is that you, in your heart of heart, believe that what you’re doing actually is a matter, and always going to work, right?
Because if you don’t believe, then then of course, that’s much, much harder to do that. Sometimes, of course, you don’t know. I mean, it can be in the early stages, like you may get some critical experiment, you need to do some work, but but at least it’s a hypothesis that you believe in that that guides you. The other test is, you know, if it’s a product you get to develop, it is something that you would use yourself. And if not, then of course, there’s a problem there too. I think one of the greatest thing with Apple and Steve Jobs is that they always looked at it from the vantage point as to what they would use in their daily life. And how would it make those life easier? Right. I think that’s that. The other thing I wanted to say. And it’s often overlooked, it’s the teamwork aspect of the tragedy, I think one of the great things of being a graduate of such University is that, of course, people actually give you It opens door, but also you have access to certain network.
But you don’t need that even just being in Boston already, I think it is, you know, if you’re not, if you happen to be, as a foreigner just arrived, you know, Fresh Off the Boat, when you enter in Boston, eventually going to be someone from an idea from Harvard, and so on, and so on. So I think there is, but the thing is that you cannot do it alone, you need the team, you need experts, actually. And Eleanor can talk more about it if you like. And conversely, if you don’t have the vision, and you don’t have the idea, what don’t a great team, that’s another way to get there. It’s not a one man, one-woman show, right? It’s you know that you’re going to need a team, you know, you’re part of it, is the tough guy or gal makes a difference. I think I think there’s multiple ways to get. And it’s also repeat business, maybe one company while you part of the team, very far down, and eventually you learn and you become the top person. So one of the thing is, there are multiple ways to get there.
Jay: Sure, sure. So how do you because you’re almost sounds like you’re doing a problem set, right? But it really isn’t because we have emotions involved and you feel the same way other people feel right, you know, something doesn’t work out, you have a bad conversation, you have a bad result. And you know, it’s difficult, right? So that’s why I do to your point, you know, you have to think it matters. But what types of things do you tell yourself, you can remember one of those dark moments and either your current company or when you may be one of your previous ones where it was difficult and kind of what you what you were telling yourself as you went through it just to show people that this is, you know, common, and you have the same thing, but you just, you know, you got through it a certain way. Do you remember any of those particular instances?
Using Failures To Learn And Grow
Patrick: Oh, yeah, I mean, it’s like every day I think, I think at the end of the day, the other thing is also how much you deal with risk. And and how do you kind of protect the downside as well, as I give you a true example. The first company I did, straight out of Harvard Business School together, we stand Latinas. The company’s name was genetics. It took us a year to raise money. I think that one year, this I was taking, I think I was taking like $2,000 a month for the past, for the last four months, I only made like, $1,000, at one year, like I learned some Harvard Business School. The one thing I was missing, my wife was working anywhere with a bit of saving, and so she couldn’t cover all our costs.
But but most of it now, and I also had enough in my back pocket to go join a bigger medical device company and just go from there. So just I think it’s the I think it’s having some form of Delta State and chaos. And, and in a sense, okay, well, you know, if it doesn’t work out, I found another way just to do something else. And I think that’s very true in Boston, but often overlooked, you know, if you were like in the middle of it, I think the other the other advice I would give is, it’s kind of, so it’s easy to obsess of things. But eventually it becomes unhealthy to do that. Yeah. And really, what you want to be able to is to kind of detach yourself from the problem in particular, when it comes at night, right. And so, maybe do some sports to something that will take a walk or something like that, where you will see a movie abuse, you do some think about it for some time. And let the magic of the night and the dreams and so on kind of know, your brain is cruising in overdrive, when you sleep. And oftentimes you wake up in the morning, and you’ve got the solution to your problem. I think I think looking at Singapore, a fresh perspective oftentimes shows you the solution that may have been right there. But you didn’t find. The other way is to keep i mean is to keep on trying until you find the thing that works and not be not being demotivated sort of like feeling very low from just being rejected or finding the solution and so on. So I think I think that’s what I think it’s worth connectivity is important, because managing your own psyche at the same time. In another example, in a for example, in the case of poker, sometimes no history of 2008 history, we had no funding crunch.
And and and, you know, it’s you kind of have this three dimensional chests of multiple moving parts between existing investors, the employees that you need to manage commission commitments that you have to your partners, and how do you kind of sequencing within the way that even though you have limited but you’re still able to move forward? While you try to find a solution to basically, you know, get your cash crunch physically started?
Jay: Yes, no, no, it’s that excellent perspective. The other question I had two is that it’s not intuitively obvious, because typically, you know, a, you know, an engineer, mechanical engineer, and a business person, you know, they don’t always exist in the same person. Right, you know, they sometimes are mutually exclusive. However, I do know, at Harvard Business School, typically, you know, the number one person in the class, most typically more often than not, is an engineer, right?
Because when it comes right down to, as you said, business is, is very much, you know, three-dimensional chess, and, you know, and problem-solving. So if you have the engineering mindset that does help them if you have a, maybe a liberal arts background, for instance, did you find that to be the case? Or was it struggle to learn, you know, the, you know, the case method in, you know, in business school, I know, you’re like the theory and practice MIT, you said earlier, was that also helpful in the business school? Or was it because it was different variables? It was, some of them are emotional, of course, that that was a little more challenging.
Patrick: Oh, yeah, I’m a big believer in the case method. Of course, I’m drinking from the Kool-Aid, I cannot do any other form of business education. But the reason is the following because, you know, it’s true in business. But you know, it’s not very thick. And I mean, eventually, you know, unless you go, of course, in an in a field of economics, which, which can be, you know, very intricate, and so on. You don’t need a PhD in economics to do business. At the end of the day, it’s really about, you know, a bit of strategy, in a bit of marketing and in most, how do you manage people, I think that’s it. And so, case method, what’s great about it, it puts you in the shoes of a decision to make makeup a leader. And, and it’s all always a problem that’s not black and white, it’s kind of very, very gray, you know, there’s there’s no silver bullet is always a trade-off. And you have to actually be able to get information from, from all different sources, and kind of put together a picture very quickly.
And what’s funny about the case method is the first case you do with it takes you two hours to prepare for pages of text. Now, you know, maybe you know, the 10 activists or something like that, it takes a good two hours, but in some of the HPC education, you will have done 500 cases. And you can read a case literally in 10 minutes, like on the way to class. And exactly, this is the issue is one way to solve it. So I think that’s good. What’s also great about the case method, and how will answer your questions. Question is that it also forces you to, to assimilate and understand other points of views. And I think I think I’m actually not sure that engineering is the kind of golden path to do business. Actually, I think what Harvard Business School is really, really good at an all, of course, the great, the great business schools, they able to select people from all walks of life, that have done extraordinarily well. And they really bring a different view to the table.
And I think, on the contrary, my experience sure the engineering school was that we kind of were all the same, and also innocent, maybe not true anymore. That aspect of collaboration was completely overlooked, actually, as well. That has changed now in engineering school, but but during my days, very rarely did you have any project it was, Hey, you know, you went to class, you learn you learn, you know, some new theory, you had some practice, and there’s an exam, you probably compete with everyone else good exam. So it ends up being a very insula actually studied this the most basic sense it’s actually quite the country even worked with people from the NFL, we had someone who was on the Olympic water polo women’s team, from the military was whatever dinner like Sean, who now like breathing and leading leadership, unbelievable, right. So everyone has something really, really critical to bring to the table and a different point of view, too. So I so I think I think there’s no, there’s no recipe I think it also says form ethic, I think can lead to can lead to great success in business.
Jay: Now, interesting, interesting. Well, you touched on one thing, too, that I think, you know, is also critical, you know, and that you know how managing people is so important. And you know, doing problem sets at the MIT isn’t necessarily going to help you particularly if there’s not a lot of collaboration, right? So how did you How were you able to pick that up so quickly? Because even at Harvard Business School, the case method, you, of course, you have to, you know, you have to interact with your, with your colleagues, and that that’s important.
And if you’re not good at that, then it’s going to really impact not only you, but your team, right? So you have to learn that right quickly. But you when you get in a you know, in a company situation, and somebody is reporting to Patrick, that’s very, very different than anything you’ve ever read before. Right now, you’re dealing with a whole different set of variables. But it sounds like you made that transition very easily, or did you? I’m not sure how that was, but seems like everything kind of built was that a natural? Or is that something it was another whole, you know, kind of graduate class you had to take, once you had, you know, people reporting to,
Patrick: I think I think this you, you have to learn by practice at the beginning. And so this couple of point I want to read the first one is, there was a great exercise, we did it in Business School, which is called a survival or Arctic survival or something like that. Imagine if you’re on a plane, the plane crashes, you and a few other survivors, they are like 12 items in the plane, you have to rank order them in, in how you think that it’s going to help you surviving. And again, the interesting thing is that the teams that do better are the ones that actually listen to each other, though, like unequivocal. Versus I think in three months, it would have been, hey, you know, an engineer should know better and have an idea, I’m not going to listen to anyone else. So I think that was a key defining, I think, for me, personally, it was a key defining thing.
And I think that’s kind of highlighted to me, that collaboration goes way, way deeper than actually just being friendly with people. And I’m a funny guy. I think writers really, and so and that’s kind of how also, it’s guided my view on how we build a company. So So really, it starts Of course, with an idea of what is the idea is good, hopefully, it’s a big market open, you can protect it when I click everything we discussed so far. But then you need experts, right? You need someone who’s going to help you was going to be a VP of engineering to kind of, say you need a VP of manufacturing to make it you need it. So So it’s, it’s unthinkable that someone stood up school, actually, we have enough experience, typically you end up actually needing expert and you kind of need to trust them implicitly. So the other thing that I think I think that you know, this is the console division of labor is very central. But also underlying it is the notion that okay, you do I do my body do you part. And I will trust you gave your part because you also going to trust me doing my part. But I think for the hard work.
And the one thing that puts it all together, which I think is very central is what is the vision that we have for this company? And what’s our mission today? Right, I think I think that’s the central central glue, that that kind of brings it all together in how you able to work towards towards one goal, because any issue happens, you always go back to the mission, okay, that’s what happens to the mission. Yes, or no, because it’s not, we shouldn’t even talk about it. And I think those things is this kind of very high level, you know, guidelines, the actual members that you minister you have for so for example, here, in all of all of our conference room, we have the vision with is a little free world, remember mission, which is to improve the lives of patients will unlock changing that the So, so that is always remembered. And we always go back to it if we get some blood challenge.
Jay: No, no, that’s, that’s fascinating. And that’s something that you learned in Business School, your direct application. Okay, interesting. So, how did you learn kind of interpersonal skills? Because is there is, you know, or did you have leadership experience or play sports or things like that, where you had to, had to use those skills before you actually started your first company? Did you have any experience in that before?
Patrick: No, actually, actually, I think it’s really hard. I think, I think I think you make mistakes, and hopefully, you learn from them. You know, I think I think the most important thing is you might be a few young founders, you might be dealing with, you met, you met people on your team who have a lot of experience, but also a lot of seniority. You know, folks may have sensitivities on things like, you know, Scott status, perhaps compensation, perhaps a particular way to approach things, I think if you’re not able to put yourself in their shoes, and, and, and kind of look at things, not only from your vantage point, but from theirs, you can end up hurting people without even knowing it, right? Or conversely, let’s say if we did with our border, shooting with the media, for that matter, I think you always have to think about where how you’re going to be 50 years, if you’re coming at it from this, from this side, or two coming at it from like, no, sorry, this like, sort of, you know, like, I should never have the context.
I think this, this unintended interpretation, or unintended consequences, is always something that you have to worry, I think, unless you specifically Think about it, or and typically you learn by mistakes for those. And if it’s fun and centre, then then you know, it’s eventually it’s gonna it’s going to have an impact on someone’s I think that’s the way to do it. At the end of the day, you learn from those mistakes I’ve made. So many of them, you know, the people with no intention. And or think something that was not to say that there was not the typical norm and fancy like that, I think I think you have to you, it’s okay to make mistake, it’s also okay to acknowledge that you’ve made a mistake, perhaps even apologize if it was a big mistake, and then move on? You know, I think I think so. Let me give you another example, which I think that that that concept of making mistake is important. So we emphasize with our young engineers, that it’s okay to make mistakes, because in fact, you’re gonna learn something in your design, and you’re going to have the next and then it’s very interactive, there is no one thing to do that is in engineering, that is not iterative. And if it is not an activity, then it’s probably going to take you way longer, and it’s not going to work at the end of the day.
Jay: Yeah, yeah. Well, you know, it’s interesting, because I think, you know, when you’re the CEO, a lot of people take the position that, you know, your job is to tell everyone what to do. Right? And if you’re telling everyone to do who’s doing the job, you are them, right? So, delegate, you’ve let them do it, if you can let them do it, you need to let them make mistakes. Right. So, but it you know, it’s quite a challenge. So I think companies, they’re driven by fear from the top down, they just don’t work at some point. Right? Right.
And typically, if it’s a small company, it just is, you can’t keep replacing people. So it sounds like you’ve you found a really good, really good balance. You know, some of this you like it, like you’re saying, you need to learn by experience, but some of it, you know, you need to, you need to know ahead of time, you can’t keep stubbing your toe, because you’re gonna, you know, you’re going to lose credibility. So I have to say that you must have had some mentors along the way. Is there anyone in particular that you actually had a relationship where you relied upon?
Or did you have like virtual mentors or get other people that you studied or read that you found particularly inspiring and helpful because that’s printed. That’s why I read a lot of biographies. So I can like, like Warren Buffett, I can learn from someone else’s mistakes, I don’t have to make them myself, you know, but I don’t know how you approach that.
Patrick: So I was very fortunate, as I mentioned, that when we started phonetic kind of stand with a CEO was the youngest guy on the founding team. And he kind of showed me the method, you know, what you need to do when, and when we started portal and basically apply the method, which is the method which is step by step. So I was very lucky in that, I think I was always very interested to learn from the other two books, you know, like reading biographies, and wondering what how did they do that? And what was a challenge? At the same time to you know, I mean, history never repeats itself, I guess. And so, what happened there? Maybe we applicable, but nonetheless, you can see how they, how they, how they dealt with that situation, and it gives you ideas, but it kind of gives you a sense of possibilities and puts it all you could do this way. It’s very similar, if you think of it to the case method as well, right. At the end of the day.
The great thing about the case method is that typically there’s an answer or not an answer, but there is a, what happened, get stolen, so at least, you know, one task of yours is not an answer, because it could have been multiple, multiple paths. So I think so at the same time, interesting doing is important. And and you can be in your armchair for a long time. At the end of the day, if you don’t go out and try you just don’t know, I think I think there’s also that, that active engagement and activity doing it is is also the other way that you learn. And in some course, of course, sometimes I mean, you as you grow in your career, and so on, you connect experts and in read end up being mentors. So if for some reason, a nice thing, I think, particularly in the Boston area, if there’s a particular problem that you have, there’s probably someone that you can call, if it’s not a direct answer that you you find that person probably knows who you need, who has you need to call and so on. Right. So I think, I think if you’re able to really kind of distill what the problem is, then someone’s gonna think, I think, would be willing to help you with that. And in fact, I think that’s better. But yeah, I think I think, you know, a lot of us to know, your mentors, physically, they can be mentors that are in books. It’s, it’s an interesting thing called the internet also, can can actually also shine a light on another on another solution that I’ve been have been tried over the years.
Jay: Yeah, no, no, that’s great. That’s great perspective. So what else would you tell somebody you know? But what would you tell your younger self? When you’re leaving, you know, graduate school? Or you’re trying to start a company? Did you see? Are there any particular mistakes? You think people should be, you know, looking out to make? Are there certain things that they should, they should make sure that they do is there as they’re doing this?
Because I think that, you know, everybody wants to be the CEO and the boss. But, you know, the reality that is very different than within then kind of the outcome to 10 years down the road. Right? You know, that? Yeah, what advice would you have for someone?
Patrick: I think it’s okay not to be this heel, Street, when you can come out of school. In fact, in fact, in a bit of serendipity, I think that that, you know, you can join a great team at a great company and learn for two years, you’re basically compressing, you can compress a lot of years and learning in a short amount of time. So so so he is really so for example, if you were part of an with what’s a good example, I mean, if you’re like a picture favorite startup, say, you know, know, if you were part of Amazon in the early days, on the Jeff Bezos and imagine it had gone through a few rounds of funding with it said that she received funding or something like that, which is a team with solid experts that are on the team who have done it before and so on. That’s an amazing environment to be in.
And I think, as you said, you said, when you’re in a start up, you end up doing a lot of a lot of different jobs actually left and right. I think it’s, it’s easy to theorize. But at the end of the day, if you can find the highest rate of learning, like straight when you’re done with school, I think that’s the greatest thing you can do. I wish I wish. I wish I had known how little I knew when I started
Yeah. In fact, even my dad kind of warned me. You have no idea of the great the enterprise, which is like the business, idea, intuition of interpersonal relationship and all that stuff, what policies or structure and blah, blah, blah? Cannot be that hard. Right. It’s I think, I think it’s true, I think I think a lot of, and I think it was true for me is true for a lot of young graduates. They, they think they know but have no idea. And often sometimes it actually works out. I mean, if you look at drew Huston, who started out, pretty much straight out of MIT, I think I may even have dropped, dropped off actually, out of MIT, and did phenomenally well. But I think there’s only a handful of those folks that do that, I think I think if you can get high rate of learning, and then you know, establish yourself as a media expert in a particular field, and you can go from there, you also will know, if you have no QC that you want to work on, you may actually realize come there where the opportunity are within that industry.
I think that’s why journey. So it’s a smallish company, not a big company, but where you know us and where the mission you like the people and you feel. And and if you don’t learn and what you’re not mentored in, I think just by being there already, there’s some learning that will happen, it doesn’t need to be steep learning, and people just know, like, Coursera needs to be set up within a company. And certainly, I think that’s the other thing I would say, I see that with a lot of young people that I mentor is that they some that want to start companies have been wanting to put your side, but then they end up freezing because they don’t want to take the risk. And so I think there are two ways to look at it.
One is that when it is taking risk is something that makes you uncomfortable, and maybe we should just deal with that. And maybe it’s okay to stay longer, you know what it what you’re doing. The other way to do this, it’s like, you know, jumping in a cold pool, it’s not comfortable. But eventually, it’s great. You know, imagine you in Walden Pond, for example, when you get in, but then it’s wonderful once you’re there, then the other way, just just just just start, you know, there’s no reason to fear to dress and just just going No, just start do and keep doing. Yeah.
Jay: Yeah, well, that’s the key right is to keep keep moving forward, that you know, a lot of people get paralyzed and don’t take action. And that that’s the thing that kills a lot of businesses. Well, this has been fascinating. I want to make sure is there any any last? last comments or any other bit of information you want to make sure people? People know, I think we’ve touched on a ton of things, but I want to be respectful of your time, because I could probably talk about a couple hours.
Patrick: I really enjoyed your question. Very good question. very insightful. I think I think putting on a lot of people’s mind, actually, as well as establishing so how does one do that? I would say that every individual has a, he or she has a different story. Right. And I think they have multiple, multiple ways to get there. What makes America great is that you know, it’s results-driven, you could be from Harvard, you could be from University of nowhere. Or you could have University, you could you can see the rise within organization within within the business world. You know, Oprah, for example, you know, the the famous media person, I mean, she started out of nowhere with tremendous you know, challenges on the family side, and so we really like bad stuff. And now she’s on top of the world.
So I think that’s what makes it great. And and those, there’s one thing I would say you cannot do it alone, Dorothy, I think that’s that’s the important thing. It may be cool these days to be an entrepreneur and maybe it herself. But also, you cannot do it alone. Because at the end of the day, it’s also cool to actually start with someone else.
Ryan: Right, right, right. And plus, right, we’re all better when we get you to know, more information, right? We’re all better collectively, you know, I don’t know any person is smarter than you know, hundred, right? It just doesn’t happen. That’s great. Well, someone was inspired by them. But what you’ve been saying or wants to learn more about a portal or just wants to say hello, what is the best way for people to to reach you, Patrick?
Patrick: Absolutely, they can reach out to me anytime. My email address is to be easy to figure out is basically my first name, dot last name, at Portal Instruments.com so Patrick.Anquetil@Portalinstruments.com. Just add switch reach and happy to take the conversation further. There’s interest and we’re always looking for good people always hiring. If folks want to work on cutting edge technology and have fun at the same time, and a great collegial environment, they can come and talk to us.
Jay: Wow, no, that’s fantastic. And I’m just you’ll motivate a lot of people to do just that. So thank you again and thank you, everyone, for listening to finding unique value and we look forward to sharing our next guest with you soon and bye for now.