Aug. 4, 2022

Dr. Monika Paule on Biotech, Gene Editing Solutions, Running Two Startups, and Being an Academia Professor

Dr. Monika Paule on Biotech, Gene Editing Solutions, Running Two Startups, and Being an Academia Professor

Hey ICL fans. This is a rebroadcast of one of our most popular episodes - a conversation with Dr. Monika Paule. Dr. Paule is a High-tech company founder of two innovative startups and is an Associated Professor & Technology Transfer expert in Academia. When not acting as the CEO at CasZyme, a company which aims to to develop innovative applications in the field of CRISPR based Molecular Tools, she’s building EdTech company “Paulai Tech” which is aimed at STEM Education. Join us as we discuss what life is like running two startups, jugging family life, being the founder of a social initiative called “Women in Biotech, and more.

Show highlights:

0:45 – song Dr. Paule can listen to over and over again

2:19 – does pineapple belong on pizza?

3:29 – hobbies as a kid

4:55 – life in academia

7:05 – an embarrassing moment when lecturing a class      

9:16 – what her Innovations role was like at University

11:16 -what’s harder, raising a 7yr old child or launching two startups

11:40 – the challenges Caszyme is facing

12:42 – what people get excited about Paulai Tech (kids edu-gaming platform)

13:38 – the difficult part of launching Caszyme

14:34 – strategies to keep a good worklife balance

15:46 – what Dr. Paule loves about Lithuania


Hey, ICL fans, hoping you guys are enjoying your summer and staying cool so far. I've had a pretty good summer. I got to travel in the south of Spain with my wife, visit my family in Houston and am planning to take the kiddos to the seaside in Bulgaria for a fun weekend. You gotta get some beach time in there, right?

Okay. Well, in this episode, I'm sharing a replay I had with Dr. Monica, Paul, Dr. Paul, she does it all. She's a high tech company, founder of two innovative startups, an associated profess. And we're not acting as the CEO of Kaza, which is a company whose aim is to develop innovative applications in the field of CRISPR based molecular tools.

She's building ed tech company, polite tech, which is aimed at stem education. Join us as we, as we discuss what life is like running two startups, juggling family life, be the founder of a social initiative called women in biotech and much more. Let's.

You are listening to innovators can laugh when Eric Cher, where I dive into the interesting and fascinating stories of innovators and startup founders from Europe, let's dive in. Hi everyone. My guest today is Dr. Monica Powell, associate professor and CEO in co-founder of Kaza, which aims to develop new discoveries, innovative applications, and top quality research in the field of genetic.

Dr. Power. How are you today? Hi. Hello. Good. I'm good. Thank you. All right. Pleasure to have you here. I'd like to get started with some questions that reveal a little bit about your personality. So the first question is what song do you have memorized Dr. Paul, a song that you can see? Oh, where you can sing it over and over again in the car, in the shower.

You never get tired of it. Hmm I would say Bob Marley. No woman, no cry. Okay. wait. Do you remember the first time you, you heard that song or that you started listening to that song? Oh, I actually discovered the Bob Marley, I think in my early teenage years. But I actually well, I'm always very much into lyrics and I, I found that his lyrics really meaningful, so yeah, so I'm quite long time listener to, I mean, all kinds of music, but lyrics is the most important for.

Okay. Now, were you influenced to listen to him from your friends or was maybe your dad or your mom also into bar Mali? Oh no. My, my parents are quite traditional people and I'm actually quite a late child. So yeah, , there is a big generational gap between us. So I'm not sure how I found Bob Marley, but I think I was just looking for, you know, something.

Positive, but at the same time, meaningful and different from what everybody was listening to okay. Okay. Second question for you, Dr. Paul, a very serious question here. Does pineapple belong or pizza? Oh, fruit belong everywhere. Either it's pizza or pasta, whatever. I love all kinds of fruit and I always eat at least one fruit after each meal.

So it's one everywhere. Good answer. Good answer. Okay. You can't argue against that answer. Okay. And third question here. If you could have one superpower, what would it be? Okay. I would say. To make people happy by whatever makes them happy. Okay. okay. Who would be the first person you would try to make happy if you had his superpower?

Oh, my son he's my little drama queen. He's seven years old, but he's so concerned the, about everything in the world that to make him happy. I mean, that's impossible. . Okay, well, take us back to your childhood. Did you have any hobbies or interests when you were growing up as a kid? Yes. I was heavy reader.

I read books since I was four years old. You see, I have glasses that's because I was reading everywhere even in. Buses, trolley buses, whatever, you know, in light, in dark . So yes, that's what was my hobby that took a lot of my time. Okay. What was, what was one of your favorite books as a kid growing up? Or favorite authors?

I actually read most of the kids books very early in my life. So, I mean, I was not even in the teenage years when I started to read like grown up. . And for example, in my early teenage years, I. All the books of Herman Hessa, which are quiet books. I mean, complicated books and no, not state har there, right?

Yes. State har there. Yes. Narcissist and Goldman. Yes. A lot of them, I, I still have the whole collection. And now both in Lithuanian and in English. So yeah. That's why book, book, taste was quite sophisticated, I would say. Yeah, no, he was one of my favorite authors growing up too, so that that's that's, that's pretty cool.

Okay. Let's jump into academia. You have a bachelor, a bachelor's degree in international economics, a master's degree in international business, a PhD in market. Okay. After that after university or maybe dairy university, take that back. You took on a few roles, a few roles such as project manager. And then you also begin lecturing at ness university.

Was this something you did on the side when you began lecturing in addition to your job? Oh, yes. I'm always doing many things in parallel. So I'm, I'm, I'm not a heavy sleeper. I don't sleep much. so yes, I was actually working from very early years of my bachelor's studies. I mean, that's how I wanted to get, you know, some practical knowledge, but also to find my way.

And yes, I did still work in industry and did my PhD and did some lecturing because yeah, I was very much eager to do that from quite early eight to be a lecturer professor. Okay. What was one of the favorite courses that you lecture. In the past. So I mainly mainly teach marketing. But also due to my practical professional experience, I also teach innovations technology transfer.

So yeah, this, this is one of the topics that I really enjoy. To, to teach about. Okay. Okay. A while back, I, I served as an adjunct professor for, for one year, for two semesters and on my very first lecture, I'll never forget. I had an embarrassing moment. It doesn't happen often, but sometimes my right eye will start to tear.

And that happened during the class 30 minutes into the class. I was confident. I knew that what I wanted to lecture about, I was excited and everything was going great. And then all of a sudden this embarrassing moment started to happen. Question for you. Is, did you ever have an embarrassing moment when you were lecturing a class?

Did something ever come up that it was quite memorable and you wished that it did it. I would say for me, embarrassing was when I did teach for a big auditorium, like 200 students. And in the morning, or even during the classes, you realized that you have some kind of flu and you are losing your voice or you are, you know, talking like through your nose and, and you do that for micro.

and that's super annoying for those who have to listen. So, yeah, , that was the lesson. I learned that. I mean, if you are even a little bit sick, you can't do you know those big lectures with microphone because just, yeah. People don't deserve to listen to you in this kinda way. , I'm a, I'm a picturing, you know, you blowing your nose like near the microphone and how loud that could be.

And annoying. Okay. Now that was maybe one of your most embarrassing moments, but what, what is, what was one of your best memories when you were lecturing a class? You know, was it, was there a certain class that everybody just seemed to click and there was good collaboration and camaraderie. Do you remember a specific class or memory Dr.

Powell? Well, I would say one of the first years when I was teaching the difference between me and my students was not, very big from N perspective, maybe several years. And I know that then I feel, felt really alike, you know, like a team member with them and, and they were developing their marketing ideas and marketing plans.

And you know, it was very much like a. I'm really a part of that. And one of them, and they really got really, really inspired and I still keep quite, you know, contacts with, with those one of the first of my student classes. Very cool. Very, very cool. Okay. Also the O university you took on the role of head of innovations, the head of innovations office.

What was that like? Were there any startups to come out of that department? Tell us more about that experience. When I joined wellness university for, for this innovation, first of all, innovations manager, then, then I, I founded the whole department and met it for several years. There was like zero of understanding.

What is innovation, how to transfer academic results into practice, how to do technology transfer, what is the company and how it's founded, and then how the researchers can, can find the companies, how collaborations with business happens like agreements and all things like that. So, yeah, it was a very challenging position and very rewarding because.

All the first startups that came well, officially came from wellness university was that when I was leading this innovation department and some of them are extremely successful now, even such areas, for example, at. Face technologies. Nobody believed that , ah, these guys can do something in the space, in the, between Lithuania they're now extremely successful.

So yeah, , that was always my job to encourage people to pursue, you know, this from business career coming from academia. All right. All right. Okay. Let's jump into two companies. You co-founded. The first one is Paul. I. Which is a platform that kids can explore different subjects related to stem.

And then of course, there's Caine, which aims to develop new discoveries in innovation in the field of Chris free CA system. I don't even know if I said that correctly. Chris bay CAS system. Okay. The question I have for you is what's harder raising a seven year old child or launching two startup. Oh it depends. sometimes one day it is a seven year old child. The other day is one or another company. Actually the business that we do at Kaza with this CRISPR Cangen editing technology is very challenging because it's the field of gene editing. It's evolving extremely quickly. And, and a lot of companies and universities are working in the field.

And, and as I say, like every day I wake up and maybe something already is done in the field, then we have changed our strategy and so on and so forth. So that's challenging, but you know, the same with a kid and the kid wakes up and you never know what the day will be. And Paula. Still at the quite early stage, we are developing the platform and building the whole business model of online and offline solutions for, for the kids related to stem education and the entertainment activities.

Yeah, I'm really excited about that. I've got two little ones myself. And so when the platform's ready, I would love for them to take a look at it. When you tell people about this platform, when you tell teachers, parents, maybe even kids, what is, what is something that they get really excited about when you share the details about the, the platform and what it's going to do?

They are mostly excited that it combines education with a game because kids, they don't actually want to learn. They want to play. And the parents want to that their kids learn. So if they can find a solution where they know that their kids are learning, but the kids actually are thinking that they're playing, that's a great solution and that's what we are actually building.

And yeah. We, we really think it will make an impact for, for the kids. Education, but yeah. Also free time. Okay. And let's go back one quick question about Kazi. It seems that maybe the most difficult part about launching Kazi is not necessarily maybe the, the team itself, maybe fundraising. It seems like the most difficult aspect is the innovation that's just happening across the, across the industry.

And other competitors. Would that be the. Yes, I would totally agree that this R and D part they're bringing research to innovations to the market is. Really the most complicated and the most competitive, because yes, it's hard to keep the team because the team really needs to have a very specific competencies and knowledge.

But I think we are doing good well at the team formation part, but, but also very much moving forward with with our business. Okay, great. Great. Okay. You're juggling multiple things, you know, your family. Your startups, lecturing. What are some strategies that you use to be productive and just have a good work life balance?

That's always a challenge, but I have learned that I. Need to say no quite often. Because you know when people find the person who's capable of doing many things quickly and of the great quality, they are usually very much want to, to use your confidence and not always with before for my benefits.

So I really set up boundaries and certain rules. I. Do not like to have long meetings. I really want to be to the point, you know, just focusing on the most important things and also to have some time, you know, for doing sports and really quite heavily into art to find time, to make art, find time to, you know, just not to think about all the other things that let's say, have to be think during the data.

Okay. Great. Great. Last question for you. Is there any question you wish I had asked you? Hmm. Maybe something about Lithuania . I want to do some marketing for Lithuania. . Why should people visit Lu Lithuania? Because it's a beautiful country. We have beautiful seaside. We have amazing lakes and forests, but also, you know, all those who are founding the startups consider coming to this way.

And because we really have very smart people here, very close community, very close relationship with actually our government, which is very supportive. So really a great. To work and a great place to find, you know, this life balance in general. So yeah. I want to do some marketing for we doing. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.

Absolutely. That's what I hear. I hear it's just a very beautiful country. I do plan on visiting in the near future. And as you said the startup see in startup visa. Is one of the best out there. I think maybe only Canada has a more friendlier start at visa, but it is a very friendly start at visa for entrepreneurs that are looking to start a business abroad.

So Dr. Monica Powell, thank you so much for being a guest on innovators can laugh for everybody tuning in. I will talk to you next week with another. Amazing startup founder from Lithuania from that beautiful country up in Northern Europe. Thank you so much, Dr. Powell. Thank you. Thank you so much.

Thanks for listening to the show. If you enjoyed it, I'd really appreciate it. If you could give us a review and star rating, also, don't forget to sign up for the ICO, where you can get the bio and details of each guest. Thanks.

Monika PauleProfile Photo

Monika Paule

CEO / Speaker / Innovations Expert / Entrepreneur

Dr. Monika Paulė is a professional Chief Executive Officer & Board Member with a long-term experience in Biotechnology & Pharmaceuticals industries as well as Associated Professor & Technology Transfer expert in Academia. Currently Dr. Monika Paulė is acting as CEO at CasZyme, company which aims to develop new discoveries, innovative applications and top-quality research in the field of CRISPR based Molecular Tools. Also Dr. Monika Paulė is Co-Founder of EdTech company “Paulai Tech”, aiming at STEM Education & novel AI & AR based solutions.
Dr. Monika Paulė has acquired Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in 2017 focused in Social Sciences (Marketing) from Vilnius University, & Senior Executive Education degree from IESE Business School, University of Barcelona, Strathmore Business School, INCAE Business School & Heidelberg University in 2019. Dr. Monika Paulė has been teaching Marketing, International Business, Innovations, Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property Management for undergraduate and post-graduate students for more than 10 years.
Dr. Monika Paulė also acts as Management Board Member at Lithuanian Biotechnology Association and is founder of social initiative “Women in Biotech”, as well as EIT Women Ambassador. She is an engaging Speaker, Moderator and Content Creator.