From Graduation to Incorporation: Dr. Mary Larkin
Dr. Mary Larkin graduated last November with her Ph.D. from Dr. Allen Place's lab. As a REEF student, she created Blueblood, which aims to provide a sustainable source of horseshoe crab blood to the biomedical industry. Horseshoe crab blood is essential to medical safety because it can be used to test for bacterial contamination in vaccinations, IV drips, and more. For more information on the business of horseshoe crab blood, check out this Atlantic article. Read below for Mary Larkin’s innovative solutions and how she developed her own business.
What does Blueblood do?
We are a startup company planning to offer a sustainable, year-round, high-quality supply of horseshoe crab blood for the biomedical industry. We are working on a device for horseshoe crab blood extraction that will streamline the process, prevent contamination, and hopefully make the outcome better for the horseshoe crabs themselves.
Why does this make a difference?
The conservation of horseshoe crabs is very important. There are a lot of migrating bird populations that depend on horseshoe crab eggs for food as they migrate north. If you have a drop in the population of horseshoe crabs, you have a drop in the population of the migratory bird population. Horseshoe crabs have been around for millions of years, so we don’t want our use of them to decimate their numbers.
How did you decide to start a business?
I learned about the importance of horseshoe crabs to biomedical testing when I was in the REEF program. I thought that since we have an aquaculture facility, we could possibly do something in-house and offer an advantage over the current industry. I was put in contact with Jill Arnold and Brent Whitaker, who have experience with horseshoe crabs. They subsequently became my partners in the venture. As I presented this idea in REEF, I was encouraged by other people’s reactions and their support. When I’ve talked to people in the industry, they’ve seemed very excited, which has helped to keep me motivated.
Share an experience that stands out most on your journey to becoming an entrepreneur.
Winning a prize at the Shore Hatchery Competition [a business pitch competition]: I presented to a group who didn’t know me as a scientist or colleague, a complete set of strangers who were really important in the business community. And they were really excited about my idea and supporting me. It was great to know that others thought this was a valuable business.