Helena Cowley, CEO of Captozyme, which is a GrowFL 2017 Florida Companies to Watch honoree, was the company's first employee. She never set out to be an entrepreneur, but says the process of growing the company has certainly turned her into one.
"There's a very interesting theory around entrepreneurship that says it's not just the entrepreneur who develops the company, but the entrepreneurial experience itself develops the entrepreneur," she said. "That is very true for me. The person I was when I first got involved with Captozyme is very different from the person I am now because it changes you as an individual. The level of accountability, responsibility and the vast opportunities forces you to prioritize, strategize and persevere."
Captozyme is both a product and service-based firm seeking to advance research and knowledge in the area of gut health.
"Our products are mainly enzyme-based and our services are contract research and development in the space of live biotheraputics," Cowley explained. "In the future, we'll also provide manufacturing services for the development of live biotherapeutics and probiotics. Our mission of advancing gut health ties into all of the research being done into area of microbiome and how our health is linked to bacterial composition in the GI tract. More research is pointing to diseases linking to the composition of gut flora. We serve a niche in that market with our services because we bridge the gap between early research settings, such as universities and commercial manufacturers."
Cowley is honored that the company has been recognized as a GrowFL Company To Watch.
"It's really big for all of us. As a person in a small company, you don't always get a lot of attention or recognition, partly because you're so focused on the day-to-day tasks," she said. "Being recognized for what we've accomplished gives us some perspective and allows us the opportunity to step back and be proud. It's really easy to overestimate what you can do in a week and underestimate what you can do in a year. It means a lot."
Cowley's advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to connect with others who have done it before and be accountable to yourself.
"The tough part is to get to that point where you realize that you have the capacity to do what you see being accomplished around you. You just have to dive in and get to work," she said. "The educational system forces us to think we should get answers from other people, but in small companies starting out you are completely accountable for everything that takes place."