Mike Klein, CEO of Genomenon, as interviewed by Jeffrey Mosher, Operations Director of Michigan Business Network on Genomenon’s recent award as one of the Top 50 Companies to Watch in Michigan.
Michigan 50 Companies To Watch | Genomenon Interview
Jeffrey Mosher: Welcome back to Michigan Celebrates Small Business on Michigan Business Network. This time around, I’m reaching out to Mike Klein, a CEO out of Ann Arbor Michigan at Genomenon. Welcome to the program Mike.
Mike Klein: Thank you Jeffrey, I’m glad to be here.
Jeffrey Mosher: Excellent, and if you care to, as short or as long as you need to, could you share your career trajectory with the Michigan business community, kind of giving your background that led to your being a CEO for Genomenon.
Mike Klein: Sure, so I’m part of this unusual lot of serial entrepreneurs. I’m the CEO of my fourth startup company that I’ve run over the last 25 years. Mostly in the software and the IT space. This is actually my first company in the medical genomics space, which is a really exciting place to be. Before that, I had done about 10 years in a couple of different Fortune 500 companies.
Jeffrey Mosher: Excellent. So can you share the story of the history for specifically Genomenon’s founding, up through now?
Mike Klein: Yeah, let me give you a little background of what we’re doing, and I’ll share a little of the history. We’re in the area of precision medicine, right? So no longer are we doing a one size fits all when it comes to treatment for cancer or for rare diseases. We’re tuning the medication, hence precision medicine, down to really map the genomics of the cancer that the patient has, or the genomics of the children with a rare disease. So what Genomenon is really focused on is we’re playing a role with connecting the billions and billions of dollars of genomic research with the patients’ DNA and putting that information at the fingertips of the doctors and researchers, so they can make better diagnostic and therapeutic decisions for these cancer patients or these babies with rare diseases. The company actually started five years ago, spun out of the University of Michigan with a number of molecular pathologists. In fact, our CSO and one of our co-founders is actively involved in the business, and he has an MD PhD background in molecular pathology working in the field of cancer genetics for the last 10 years.
Jeffrey Mosher: Excellent. I can’t be certain if I first heard about the company out of the U of M’s celebration of technology in the autumn of 2014, or if it took me until Accelerate Michigan’s Innovation Competition in 2015, which must have been great for you folks coming in second place that year.
Mike Klein: That was actually before my time with Genomenon, our two major co-founders, Steve Schwartz, who is a technology wizard, has done a lot of work in the Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning space, and then Mark Kiel, who is a molecular pathologist, spent the first three years putting together the core technologies, spinning it out of U of M. They have been highlighted and showcased by the University of Michigan in the very early years, and won a number of early award competitions, and it was certainly nice to win a check for $100,000 in the early days, right? When you’re getting a company just getting started, that really helped to push the company towards success and get visibility with larger investors.
Jeffrey Mosher: That was assisted by such groups as SPARK and MVCA, that we’re closely following in the storylines of great businesses in Michigan. So how about right now here in early 2019. I know you’ve already described it, kind of in the backing story, but kind of the overarching service scope that makes Genomenon special here in 2019.
Mike Klein: So, we’re really a healthcare software company focused on the genomic space. We are leveraging A.I. and Machine Learning to really provide genomic information and put it at the fingertips of doctors. For example, in clinical labs where they’re looking at cancer patients, the DNA of the cancer or the DNA of patients from rare diseases. Giving them the information that they need to pull from this research to make terrific life-saving or life-extending decisions for their patients. So that’s one market that were really focused on, and for that we have something called the Mastermind Genomic Search Engine that goes out and looks across all the scientific publications to pull in every disease and genetic relationship, and makes that information available in a search engine format for the doctors to get the most clinically relevant information that provides deep insight for their patient treatment decisions. The second area that’s really exciting for us as well that we’ve been expanding in is working with pharmaceutical and biopharma companies that are working in the precision medicine space, that are designing and developing drugs specifically around the genomic drivers of diseases, where we can provide them a comprehensive landscape of all the genomic research that’s been done, all the genomics associated with a particular disease or their drug pathway for the drugs they’re developing.
Jeffrey Mosher: Excellent and all of that effort has now led the company to be honored as a Michigan 50 Companies to Watch. So what does that mean for you and the company?
Mike Klein: Well I’m super excited about this, so this is the third company that I have run that has been recognized by Michigan 50 to Watch. One thing I’ve learned in this path of being an entrepreneur for the last 25 years is to take the time to celebrating successes along the way. So what we’re doing is we’re actually bringing the entire management team, we’re bringing all our spouses, I think we’ve got 12 or 14 people going to the celebration, and we’re going to make sure we’re celebrating this milestone, because it’s really nice to be recognized by a community that really, you know…Genomenon is a story about Michigan, it’s a story about spinning out of Michigan and the support we’ve gotten from a number of investment groups along the way, from the University of Michigan, Invest Michigan, Invest Detroit, Michigan Angel Fund. With support from MEDC, from SPARK and a number of community organizations that quite frankly we would not see the successes that we had along the way had we not had the support of the Michigan community. And so it’s exciting and fun to be able to be named a Michigan 50 to Watch company, and celebrate with our peers the great successes that are happening in this state.
Jeffrey Mosher: Perfect, and that answers my question about your familiarity with Michigan Celebrates and the 50 Companies to Watch. So at this point, while I still have you on the line, if there was anything else that you believe the business community of Michigan should know about Genomenon, along with the contact information in case there were any companies out there that would either like to do a synergistic effort with you or just know more about you?
Mike Klein: Yes, terrific. We’re working with anybody who’s working in the genomic space that really wants to understand the genomic landscape, whether that’s working with patients or whether that’s working in a research area or pharmaceutical development space. Our website is genomenon.com. Kind of like “phenomenon” with a G.
Jeffrey Mosher: Right then, well Mike, thank you so much for spending some time with Michigan Celebrates. Once again, we’ve been speaking with Mike Klein, a CEO out of Ann Arbor Michigan from Genomenon, and they are a Michigan 50 Company to Watch for this year.