Dr. Patrick Anquetil: Portal Instruments and Biotechnology

Chief Executive Officer of Portal Instruments, a medical device company that has developed a high pressure system to administer injections without needles, Dr. Patrick Anquetil discussed his career in the biotech industry and the challenges and rewards of working in an innovative while also technical and scientific field with students of Business Today’s 43rd International Conference on Tuesday, November 20th.  

Anquetil found himself developing Portal Instruments by happy accident after keeping in touch with his thesis advisor from MIT, who first discussed the idea with Anquetil based on research in his department. Anquetil quit his previous job to develop and secure funding for Portal Instruments. Though the idea was presented to him rather than his own, Anquetil noted the opportunity came to him at a time when all his experiences made him an ideal leader for such an undertaking. Before Portal Instruments, he cofounded two other biotech companies, Aretais and SynapDx, which are respectively Glucose and Autism Diagnostics companies.  As well as his PhD from MIT, Anquetil earned an MBA from Harvard Business School.

To the students interested in entrepreneurship, whether in the biotechnology or another sector, Anquetil’s emphasis on a strong founding team, vision, mission, values, and raising funding reinforced the necessity of careful preparation for starting a company around a new and untested product. For bio tech, as well as being supported by a founder or CEO and excellent funding, the product idea must be developed by excellent technical talent. Anquetil stressed that all these areas circle back to the company vision, with all team members in accord and committed to serving the mission first.

As for the challenges of a startup, Anquetil warned students, “don’t mistake movement for results.” For a company just starting up, where operations can cost $20,000 a day, every minute counts. Small start-ups can only compete with large companies by becoming more nimble and effective, leveraging their resources and in the case of Portal Instruments, their quick engineers to “compress the cycle of innovation.”  Another challenge for entrepreneurs is securing funding, a concern which was raised by most students in the Dr. Anquetil’s seminar, as some were already pursuing or trying to launch their own businesses. Anquetil quelled their doubts by comparing finding funding to selecting a spouse. “It will come at the right time and scope,” he said.

As in most pursuits, persistence and dedication is key to entrepreneurship and founding a successful bio technology company. In Anquetil’s words, “doing something halfway is almost like doing it all the way. You might as well just do it.”