With the discovery that sodium dodecyl sulfate, an ingredient found in household products, could kill HIV, Sandra Urdaneta-Hartmann wanted to bring to market life-saving products for people at risk of becoming infected with the virus. As an academic physician scientist, Sandra lacked the business know-how to launch the new venture. For that, she turned to Drexel LeBow.
“There was an opportunity for commercialization of the technology we discovered in the lab, and I wanted to learn more about how to implement that process,” Sandra says. “Even in my field, the LeBow MBA was beneficial to me immediately. I was able to write my business plan as part of the New Venture Planning class. I really enjoyed my LeBow education.” While in school, Sandra and her business colleagues entered Drexel LeBow’s Baiada Center for Entrepreneurship business plan competition and won. They were awarded funding and incubator space on campus where they could grow and nurture the fledgling business. Unfortunately, a poor economy and the death of one of her partners strained the business, and a few years later, Sandra had to fold the venture.
“There are many challenges when starting up a company, and you quickly learn from your failures,” she says. “Even if you fail, it’s a success; you learn what not to do. You then learn how to focus on identifying the problem and finding a solution; it’s a positive outlook.”
Currently, as assistant director of the Center of Women’s Health Research at Drexel University College of Medicine, Sandra combines her background in science and medicine with her business training to help start-up this new initiative within Drexel. “There are many parallels between running a business and an academic department,” she says. “We still ask the questions, ‘what’s our mission?’ and ‘what’s our target?’ I want to stay ahead of curve, and Drexel LeBow has helped me get ahead and stay there.”