Beth Marcus is Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Imperial’s Enterprise Lab. Beth discusses her role at the Enterprise Lab, her entrepreneurship journey, and her advice for female entrepreneurs starting out. Beginning Monday 20 March, the Enterprise Lab will be hosting Enterprise Week, a week of events to showcase enterprising student initiatives across the College, including a Swift Pitch event organised by the Entrepreneurship Club.
- Tell me a bit about your role at Imperial Enterprise Lab as Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR).
My role is to meet with and mentor students, including Business School students, on Althea-Imperial, the Venture Capital Challenge, and other Imperial start-ups that use the Enterprise Lab to create or grow their business. I’m also a guest lecturer in a number of formats, telling “war” stories from my five start-ups and about other companies I have mentored or invested in. In addition, I am helping the Enterprise Lab build bridges to other alumni in the UK and US, and with companies who may want to get involved in its activities.
- What has been your experience coming back to Imperial as EiR so far?
It’s been a blast. The students are very coachable, taking the advice I give and reporting back about what they’ve done and asking more questions. Coachability is really important for start-up founders as they need to use the experience of others to avoid mistakes that could cost them months, or even impact on the success or failure of their business.
I’ve met many alumni and people in the start-up ecosystem in the London area and connected with alumni that I knew form my days at Imperial. The ecosystem surrounding the Enterprise Lab is just starting to develop and it is great to be able to have a significant impact on its trajectory.
- What is your educational background?
I studied Mechanical Engineering at MIT. My bachelor thesis was the design of a neurosurgical skull clamp for children and my Master’s involved using Scanning Electron Microscopy to study Erythrocyte freeze thaw damage. I studied for my doctorate in Biomechanics at Imperial under a Marshall Scholarship. The thesis examined the biomechanics of the foot in running as it applies to the design of spiked racing shoes.
- Can you tell us about your entrepreneurial journey and some of your successes?
I am a serial entrepreneur in the trenches helping other entrepreneurs. As a veteran start-up CEO, I have brought numerous hardware and software products to market. These include Zeemote, GlowDog and EXOS.
I was most recently CEO of Playrific. Playrific is building a platform that delivers engaging apps for kids with intellectual property from child-oriented family brands. I also developed Gazintu™, the first controller technology that uses toys to lets kids feel and play with mobile apps. Playrific was sold in December 2016. So, now I also work with executives and leaders of entrepreneurial teams to define and execute successful business, product & intellectual property strategies.
- What were the greatest challenges you faced in growing your businesses?
The greatest challenges were related to funding, staffing and having ideas that are 10-15 years ahead of their time. Adapting to change is the name of the game and surrounding yourself with people who know more than you about various aspects of the business and letting them do their jobs is critical.
- What is the most important advice you would give to a female entrepreneur starting out?
Assume you can do everything you set out to do, and when you are selling your business or your products have confidence and show it. Never give up or become discouraged. Entrepreneurship is a journey with many twists and turns. Cultivate your gut instincts and follow that voice inside. Also it is important is to surround yourself with brutally honest advisors and use them.
Learn more about Imperial Enterprise Week, beginning Monday 20 March 2017.