4 Minutes With… Steve Weiss, Grey Heron

October 23, 2014 |

Steve-Weiss-120pxTell us about your organization and it’s role in the Advanced Bioeconomy.

I help companies with great technology and potential:
– focus on and develop their core ideas;
– sharpen them into an executable, differentiated value proposition and business strategy;
– build a simple, compelling story that resonates with customers and investors;
– help them tell their story effectively and to the right audiences.

Tell us about your role and what you are focused on in the next 12 months.

My primary focus is Genomatica – and helping them increasingly be seen as the biotechnology partner of choice for the mainstream chemical industry.
That work – bolstered by continued milestones – helps the overall industry. Credibility for one is credibility for all. It’s important to have ‘showpieces’ that show you can build firms that deliver real value to customers and investors.
I’m also helping Liquid Light, as they advance toward commercialization.

What do you feel are the most important milestones the industry must achieve in the next 5 years?

One: show it can solve real problems for real customers.
Two: show it can make money.
Three: figure out how to tell our story much better, to multiple audiences.

If you could snap your fingers and change one thing about the Advanced Bioeconomy, what would you change?

In general – our over-reliance on technology.
We need to do a better job of understanding customer needs and figuring out how and where technology fits as part of solving a problem.

Of all the reasons that influenced you to join the Advanced Bioeconomy industry, what single reason stands out for you as still being compelling and important to you?

Working in an area that can make a difference.

Where are you from? 

The Bronx, New York! (Pelham Parkway and then Co-op City, for the locals); then, Cambridge, Mass for college; and California since then

What was your undergraduate major in college, and where did you attend? Why did you choose that school and that pathway? 

Bachelors and Masters in Computer Science from MIT. When I was five, I heard that MIT was the best (and hardest) school out there – so I decided that’s where I should go. I always leaned toward math, science and engineering.

Who do you consider your mentors. What have you learned from them?

Lots of people I admire, respect and have learned from – but two mentors:
– my grandfather: who taught me how to build;
– (Professor) Michael Hammer (of ‘Reengineering’ fame): who taught me how to think.

What’s the biggest lesson you ever learned during a period of adversity?

Stay focused; dig deep for reserves of strength; turn to and draw on all the people that are there for you.

What hobbies do you pursue, away from your work in the industry? 

Wine. Who’s up for pulling some corks?

What 3 books would you take to read, if stranded on a desert island?

Classic ‘spy’ novels by John Le Carre: lots of layers, subtlety, complexity.
A Confederacy of Dunces, for its absurdity and well-done threads coming together.
How the Mind Works, by Steven Pinker (one of his earlier books, but still excellent)

What books or articles are on your reading list right now, or you just completed and really enjoyed?

The Hard Thing About Hard Things, by Ben Horowitz: excellent.
How to Talk so Teens Will Listen and Listen so They Will Talk

What’s your favorite city or place to visit, for a holiday?

Florence, any wine region, Hawaii

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Category: Million Minds

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