This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing. If you know a leader whom you would like to see celebrated on the show, please send me a message on LinkedIn with their name.

In this captivating interview, Catherine Boule, a molecular biologist turned VC investor, shares her journey from the lab to the world of entrepreneurship.

She delves into the valuable lessons she learned during her MBA and the eye-opening experiences that helped her bridge the gap between science and business.

Catherine discusses the unique dynamics and values that drive her investments in early-stage startups, emphasizing the importance of transparency and respect in building successful partnerships.

She also reveals how she navigates the challenges faced by entrepreneurs, offering insights on managing success, setbacks, and the evolving leadership required at different stages of a company’s growth.

This interview is a must-read for anyone looking to gain valuable wisdom and inspiration from a seasoned investor and leader in the healthcare and med tech industry.’

You can find Catherine at the below links

In the interview, Catherine shares

  • “I started in a lab, but the experience wasn’t great for me. So, I pursued an MBA and entered the world of entrepreneurship, joining an incubator during the early days of startups in France.”
  • “Karista, an independent VC firm based in Paris, invests in early-stage startups, particularly in healthcare, digital, and deep tech companies. I’ve been leading the healthcare practice at Karista for many years.”
  • “From my academic background at Paris Institute Curie to an MBA dedicated to biotech, I discovered the vast difference between the scientific lab and the business world, meeting creators, inventors, and scientists wanting to start their own ventures.”
  • “The early days of tech transfer were challenging, but the advice to pursue an MBA opened doors. I joined an incubator and found it energizing, connecting with passionate entrepreneurs from various fields.”
  • “Working with entrepreneurs, I’ve learned that visionary leaders with resilience are crucial. They are driven by passion, even if sometimes they’re wrong. It’s impressive to witness their dedication to breakthrough innovations that can save lives.”
  • “At Karista, we invest in people and maintain a long-term commitment. Confidence, transparency, and respect are values we hold dear, creating a unique dynamic in our relationships with entrepreneurs.”
  • “Success and setbacks bring unique challenges. We actively engage with management, identifying pain points, offering support, and leveraging our network to address issues related to scaling up, production, and organizational structure.”
  • “Leadership evolves at different stages. Some companies, like Nanobiotics, undergo changes in management, while others, founded by physicians, seek our support in structuring and organizing the company for growth.”
  • “Dealing with difficult conversations requires maturity. Identifying entrepreneurs aware of their weaknesses is crucial. Our position is not to invest if dealing with egos poses too much risk to the company.”
  • “The journey to success in the startup world is often glamorized, but true success involves creating innovative products and selling the company at a high price. It’s a challenging, long-term process that only a few startups achieve.”