This week, Innovation Hub is all about altruism in business. Meet one CEO who walks the walk: Michael Schrader of Vaxess Technologies, a company that uses silk protein to stabilize the temperature of vaccines so they can be shipped across the globe without refrigeration. In other words, with Schrader’s help, some of the 2.5 million people who die annually of preventable diseases could be saved using the fiber in your bedsheets.
The fiber produced by this silkworm could help save the lives of 2.5 million people worldwide. Credit: threeredbuttons / Flickr Creative Commons
Starting a business is tough; starting a business whose customers can't pay for the product you offer is even tougher. “Certainly the challenges we face are unlike anything our team had ever seen before,” Schrader admits. But despite the obstacles, this CEO says he wouldn’t have it any other way. “I’ve never been so inspired and excited to get up and go to work every morning,” he says.
Schrader and his team's enthusiasm has paid off. Since it was founded in 2011, Vaxess has raked in numerous grants and awards, including the Harvard President's Challenge in Global Health and a semi-finalist position in MIT's $100k Entrepreneurship Competition. In May, the start-up closed the first tranche of a Series A financing, putting it in a good position to bring products to market within the next few years.
We took a peek inside this up-and-coming entrepreneur’s brain to find out his favorite place to relax, what he’s reading, and even what he considers his biggest failures. One of our favorites was his choice for a personal theme song: “The Best is Yet to Come” by Frank Sinatra. “There’s something special about that song,” Schrader says. “It’s upbeat, it’s inspirational. I hope it certainly well represents what’s coming down the road for me in the future.”