Brilliant Spanish postdoc, Carlos Castro-González, goes to MIT’s “Magic Wand” lab, and joins a superb international team to address an important medical problem. Leuko, their startup, now has a device and software that can tell when cancer patients are becoming immuno-compromised. Leuko’s product has the potential of saving 4,000 lives and $1.5 billion every year by cutting in half opportunistic infections associated with chemotherapy.
Some highlights from this charming conversation with a well-spoken scientist & founder:
Carlos Castro-González bio.
What Leuko does.
How the company came about.
How Carlos became an unlikely entrepreneur.
MIT’s Martha Gray Lab, often called the “Magic Wand” lab building a new approach to applying technology to real-world medical problems.
What the device and software actually do.
Who might pay for this product?
How much money and time will it take to get the product to market?
Licensing the technology from MIT.
Team ideally suited to technological task, but created entirely by accident.
Have worked well for four years.
Four founders have passed up well-paid and safe positions in industry to get this company going.
PlenOptika came from the Martha Gray Lab as well and share space with Leuko
Commercial input from MIT’s Venture Mentoring Service.
Advice to other scientist/founders form a company more than a year before leaving academia to apply for non-dilutive funding for the company. When the funding is granted then separate from the university to avoid conflicts of interest. Heard this from another founder.
Carlos advises potential founders to broaden their network to investors and people with commercial experience.
Being coachable and listening to advice.
Reporting frequently and succinctly is valuable. Having a narrative thread that ties one report to the previous one.
Reports as a way of eliciting help from investors.
Process of interviewing physicians took care to ensure candid opinions. Concrete steps to get unguarded responses.