For as long as humankind has roamed the earth, there have been individuals or groups of individuals who've dared to dream big, to challenge the customary way of doing things, to flip rockets in the air, to turn left where others were turning right. They were the pioneers, the radical thinkers, the catalysts. And in our day and age, they can be the founders you already know, or better yet, the ones you've not heard of. Yet.
In a special partnership with Venture Europe, in this first episode of our "Founders: The rockstars making a future worth getting excited about" series, we'd like to introduce you to one such big dreamer, Stef van Grieken, co-founder of Cradle - a company that's dramatically changing the way scientists programme biology. Stef's journey is one of risk-taking, curiosity, and collaboration. It's a story that epitomizes the spirit of the modern-day founder who's truly making a difference.
Stef's early experiences at Google Brain and Google X taught him the power of high-quality teams, the importance of focusing on users, and the beauty of thinking big. But it wasn't until he stumbled upon the fascinating world of DNA and biology that his true calling emerged. 60% of our current economic inputs could be made with biology instead of petrochemicals or animals. The statistics are just wild. Combining LLM (large language models) and biology one can better design proteins that can create a wide variety of products.
Together with Elise de Reus, a fellow adventurer in the realm of science, Stef set out on a daring quest. They founded Cradle.bio, determined to make it easier for scientists to programme biology and unlock its full potential. Their shared passion for innovation and their complementary skills have been key factors in Cradle's ongoing success.
But, as with any great story, there were trials and tribulations along the way. Fundraising proved to be a dragon they had to slay. But Stef's experience as an angel investor gave him the insights he needed to simplify their story, focus on the problem they were solving, and capture the hearts and minds of investors.
As Cradle began to take shape, it became clear that Stef and Elise's audacious vision was resonating with people everywhere. They were living proof that founders who dare to dream big and embrace challenges can create a better future for us all.
Looking back on his journey, Stef realised just how much he had grown from the risk-averse boy growing up in the Netherlands he once was. He had become a true founder, one that inspires others to take risks, dreams big, and embarks on their own incredible adventures. Leading, not following.
"Be a definite optimist, try things. I think of all the strategies that people have tried to teach me, the one I was definitely not expecting, and the one that I sort of yielded the best results for me. And it makes sense, if you work on something that's hard, it attracts much better people.
Good people have done cool things before and they wanna do something that's more ambitious. It has a much higher impact on the world. So you can be proud of yourself. And then the other cool thing, typically there's less competition. You can do another FinTech SaaS for SaaS for SaaS thing, it's like, I think we have enough APIs for money people. " - Stef van Grieken