Finding the right partners
In the startup world, it’s essential to have a breakthrough idea. But as Emily Leproust, co-founder and CEO of Twist Bioscience, reveals, it’s just as important to form the right relationships.
Never start a company alone
What if you could make high-quality DNA from scratch, very quickly? For one thing, you’d make it easier for people to tackle big problems, like cancer and world hunger. That’s exactly what Twist Bioscience (Twist) does.
Twist Bioscience co-founder and CEO Emily Leproust lights up when she talks about the possibilities: “With DNA, you can make people much more healthy. You can create new antibiotics and win the war against bacteria. You can develop new vaccines. You can make chemicals like plastic and carpet in a way that’s more sustainable.”
Leproust knows this sort of innovation comes with its share of difficulty. "The skill is not avoiding the problem; the skill is in building the team that can troubleshoot the problem," says Emily Leproust, co-founder and CEO of Twist Bioscience. Surrounding herself with the very best people gives her confidence—and the comfort of knowing that Twist Bioscience can solve problems as they arise.
Having cofounded Twist Bioscience with partners Bill Banyai and Bill Peck, Leproust maintains that you should never start a company alone. “There’s so much to do. And you want people that are different than you, with different strengths and different weaknesses.”
The skill is not avoiding the problem; the skill is in building the team that can troubleshoot the problem.
A network of relationships
It’s important to have the right relationships outside the company as well. Investors, for instance, are likelier to invest in someone with whom they’ve built a relationship.
Recalling her early meetings with investors, Leproust says, “Zero percent give you money the first time you meet them, and 1% give you money the second time they meet you, and then 2% give you money the third time they meet you. And it really takes a while for people to decide to invest.”
That’s why Leproust urges other entrepreneurs to develop relationships with everyone, early and often. For Twist Bioscience, one of those early relationships was with Silicon Valley Bank (SVB).
With SVB’s support, she’s been able to drive the company forward. “They are an accelerator,” she says. “I’ve got my hands on the wheel and they help accelerate things. It’s a business where capital is important and capital enables things to go faster. And if you have a bank that’s there to assist you in all aspects of the capital management, you just go faster. And when you go faster, you surpass your competition.”
In Leproust’s view, finding the right bank is an essential part of building a team that can troubleshoot problems and find creative solutions. She’s glad to have SVB on her team. “They understand the value of relationships. They wanted my business when Twist was nobody. We’ve been developing the relationship for the last three years, and now that we are bigger, I don’t want to take my business anywhere else.”
There’s so much to do. And you want people that are different than you, with different strengths and different weaknesses.
At Silicon Valley Bank, we have conversations every day with technology visionaries who are shaping the future. We invited several clients on the frontlines to share their experiences and points of view on how to build a successful innovation company.
In this collection of stories, titled Next2 POV, you will hear about the vision, passion and sheer grit necessary to get going, and how building a trusted team of partners and advisors is a prerequisite for success. Our goal is for these stories to give you insight and inspiration to move your big idea forward.