Ka Yee Yeung, bioinformatics professor in SET and co-founder of BioDepot LLC, was recently interviewed by Osage University Partners for their series on female start-up founders.
(Image above: BioDepot co-founders Ling-Hong Hung and Ka Yee Yeung with Wes Lloyd pitch their start-up idea to UW CoMotion during the 2019 Innovation Gap Fund competition.)
“Try to time starting your company with your sabbatical, if that is an option.”
That is one piece of advice given by Dr. Ka Yee Yeung, a professor who studies bioinformatics in UW Tacoma’s School of Engineering & Technology.
She is also the co-founder, with SET Research Assistant Professor Ling-Hong Hung, and CEO of BioDepot LLC, a bioinformatics start-up that could give researchers access to powerful analytical tools with a few mouse clicks.
Recently, Osage University Partners, a venture capital investment firm that focuses on university technology commercialization, published an interview with Yeung as part of their “Inspiring Academic Female Founders” series. She talks about her academic background and how fortuitous timing of her own life stages (being a mother, getting tenure) made it possible for her to develop a commercial pathway for BioDepot, which had started as an academic research tool.
Her advice about timing a corporate startup with a sabbatical was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, as the chances of things lining up that way for someone else are probably slim.
It was her first UW Tacoma sabbatical. “I have been extremely grateful to have a year off, especially during COVID, and have fewer things to worry about,” she told Osage.
The interview is filled with other insights from Yeung, including on the differences between the academic and the commercial realms, being a female in a male-dominated research and entrepreneurial space, and the importance of just jumping in and doing stuff.
“My biggest takeaway is don’t think too much. Just do it, especially if you feel like you have a good idea.”
In the interview, Yeung describes BioDepot LLC this way:
“We are a software company that aims to democratize the use of cloud computing for a biological and clinical audience. Biologists and clinicians typically are not trained in writing computer science code or using the cloud.
“Our vision is when biologists are doing their big data analysis, they would just click a button and not even know that they are analyzing data on the cloud. We are developing what you might call software ‘recipes’ – a sequence of steps to analyze cancer genomics data as well as imaging data. Our software is transparent, automated, and hopefully not as expensive as current solutions.
“With our software, clinicians and biologists can focus their efforts on figuring out the biological implications of the data – not trying to fiddle with coding or learning how to use the cloud.”