Behind the human
Can you introduce yourself in a few words ? What has been your background ?
I am Anna Shirinskaya, my scientific career started in Russia with a bachelor’s degree in chemistrybiochemistry, then a master’s degree in polymeric chemistry. I obtained a PhD in bioelectronics at the Ecole Polytechnique and I am today CTO of the startup Omini. So I am a startup researcher!
What made you want to start a business ? What was your path to entrepreneurship ? Did you grow up in a family of entrepreneurs ?
I always wanted to be a researcher, but I realised that research is often out of step with reality and is often confined to the laboratory. I wanted to take science and knowledge out of the laboratory to serve the greatest number of people, hence the choice of entrepreneurship. There are no entrepreneurs in my family.
What does entrepreneurship mean to you (in one word/one sentence) ?
For me, entrepreneurship is all about making yourself useful!
In your opinion, what does it take to be a good entrepreneur ?
An indispensable quality is to be passionate and to believe in one’s project. It is also necessary to know how to persevere.
Can you tell us about the meeting with your partner(s) ?
I met my associate in a program called ‘Entrepreneur First’ in Paris. The aim is to bring together around fifty people with different skills and to form CEO / CTO pairs. This team has to come up with a product idea, study the market and develop a project.
Do you have a role model when it comes to entrepreneurship? A mentor ? Someone who inspires you in your approach whether he/she is an entrepreneur or not? And why?
I have met many people in my life as an entrepreneur who have inspired me. For example, Franz Bozsak, CEO of Sensome, a startup that offers a miniaturised sensor to better treat strokes and whose values and corporate culture I appreciate.
Behind the startup
Can you introduce us to your startup? How did you get the idea? What problem does it address?
Our startup Omini offers a medical device for reliable, fast and efficient blood testing. Results are available in minutes, compared to hours or days for traditional tests. This allows doctors to make pre-diagnoses, increase their speed of medical decision making, and better guide the patient. Patients can also perform these tests themselves at home. During my thesis in bioelectronics, I studied a biosensor that can be used in various fields, is inexpensive and can therefore be mass-produced. So we had the technology, so we still had to define its application! We wanted to use it for a meaningful project, hence the choice of the medical sector. Our product can be used all over the world, including in areas where it is normally difficult to make a diagnosis due to a lack of suitable equipment.
What were the major stages you went through in the development of your startup? What were the difficulties you had to overcome?
The first step was to come up with the idea. The second was to verify the viability of this idea by meeting and exchanging with many health professionals. Then came the development of the proof of concept. Today, we are at the stage of seeking funding. There are a lot of difficulties when you develop a startup. The main one for us was to understand how the medical system works, the patient’s journey in France but also in other European countries. However, each country has a different medical system. We had to meet a lot of doctors to understand the intricacies of the different countries.
Can you tell us about your experience at the Polytechnique Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center? How did the center benefit your startup?
Initially, I wanted to work in the laboratory where I did my PhD, but there was no more room in the office. We contacted the Drahi-X Novation Center and were accepted into the X-Tech Booster. We had come here to get office space, but we got a lot more than that. The staff is very supportive in the development of our project, we can attend many workshops on prototyping, accounting, legal aspects... We also benefited from the X network through networking. All this support has been really important for us.
How is belonging to the X startup community important for your startup?
Yes, of course! This is very important because we exchange both our expertise and advice, but also our address books. This has allowed us to exchange with new interlocutors on our project, its financing... it is vital to belong to such a community
Any advice for an entrepreneur who would like to get started?
Don’t be afraid to take the plunge and don’t fear failure, because you learn a lot by becoming an entrepreneur. It’s a real life experience. The knowledge you accumulate and the encounters you make thanks to this adventure are invaluable. You have to take the plunge because you always win, even if you fail!