You studied biomedical engineering at UMaine because you were determined to use your career to increase people’s quality of life. What does “quality of life” mean to you?
Quality of life is a blanket term I use as a guiding north star to drive what I, and our businesses, consistently move towards. Through the experience of helping my Dad through his final battle with stage 4 cancer, I saw what quality of life truly meant. From helping a person feel better, move better, think healthier. Simply allowing them to have a better human experience is what motivates us. With our skincare brand Marin, we’ve created a product that soothes and hydrates skin, while providing a rich, creamy indulgent texture to feel like you’re actually treating yourself – it’s that blend of the physical and emotional that makes people feel.. good!
How did you make the jump from engineering and research to commercialization and entrepreneurship?
Funny enough, I find the ability to control your reality incredibly energizing. To think that there are unaddressed problems in the world, and you have the power to tackle them, is simple yet profound. In grad school, I quickly became sick of academic exercises and checking vanity boxes to fuel someone else’s pointless agenda. I wanted to do real things that actually helped the world , that I could point to and tell you specifically why they are important. I’ve also found that I naturally move towards solving the most difficult and trying problems in front of me – which is why the immensely difficult entrepreneurial challenge of developing the self, balancing the ego and becoming the person capable of doing what you want to do (and while actually building traditional skills + tools to do so), is the most dynamic, difficult and exciting adventure. Once your eyes are open to this, you can’t really go back.
As the Innovate for Maine Fellow at Lobster Unlimited, a startup which creates new uses for lobster byproducts, you tested lobster proteins for use in the cosmetic industry. Why did you decide to research the skin-healing properties of lobster?
I was actually motivated to take this project on after I reviewed the vast amount of literature supporting anti-cancer properties of hemocyanin (the protein), and I thought it was unique and interesting that it came from lobster – this organism has incredible abilities to fight off disease, heal wounds and regenerate its own limbs.
Your research ultimately yielded Dermarus, a skincare company using lobster proteins to relieve the effects of dry, irritated skin from things like eczema. How did you identify this target market, and how are you reaching them?
Finding that there is a protein in lobster that can help hydrate and calm dry, irritated skin, was a mix of research, serendipity, and curiosity. My co-founder Amber and I were biomedical engineering grad students working at Lobster Unlimited. After some research findings, and some anecdotal evidence, we incorporated a protein found in lobsters into a skincare base. Quite frankly, we used this to accidentally clear Amber’s eczema. It was incredible for her – she was finally able to wear cosmetic products again, didn’t have to wear hoodies and hats to hide her face, and she could go out in the world without constantly thinking about her skin. As we sent out more samples to friends and family, things began to snowball. When you get hand-written letters thanking you for helping someone find relief from a problem that has dictated so much of their life, and people asking how they can get more and when your product will be available, you can’t not continue and you can’t not catch fire.
You’ll be presenting a Tech Talk at Central Maine Tech Night on March 12. Can you give us a preview of what you’ll be discussing?
I plan to talk about the discovery of finding out that our ‘marine glycoprotein’ ingredient had incredible properties, the way we thought through bringing it into the world in the form of a product, and some of the vision and strategy for our company. I’d much prefer to talk less about myself and more in conversation with those who attend, so I look forward to an active and open-minded Q&A session!!
Last modified: June 18, 2021