(EDITOR’S NOTE: Clodico is a new start-up in Oak Ridge just named yesterday as one of five presenters at the upcoming Life Science Tennessee “Venture Forum.” Clodico also was selected to present at the SEBIO Venture Forum in November.)
By Tom Ballard, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Pershing Yoakley & Associates. P.C.
After several intrapreneurial initiatives at Motorola and a number of years working with the Knoxville-Oak Ridge region’s start-up community, Joy Fisher decided it was time to strike-out on her own.
“My passion for entrepreneurship started in 1995 with an intrapreneurial start-up at Motorola,” Fisher told teknovation.biz in a recent interview. She laughingly said the software start-up failed, but she was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug.
The Daytona Beach native first visited Knoxville that same year where she got an exposure to the Knoxville-Oak Ridge start-up scene. The opportunity came as a result of Motorola’s investment in a company called CerWat, where Dick Nixdorf was President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
At the time, Fisher was part of Motorola’s “New Enterprises Group” headed by Pat Richardson who, like Fisher, eventually migrated to the region. He is now on the faculty of the College of Business Administration at University of Tennessee’s (UT) Knoxville campus.
“It was the best job I had at Motorola,” Fisher says, noting that she had been through all sorts of positions with the company. “After that job, I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, and I set myself on a path to be a technology entrepreneur.”
Eighteen years later, she’s CEO of a start-up focused on a very important challenge – developing and marketing a new line of environmentally-friendly disinfectants that quickly kill the bacteria and viruses plaguing hospitals. They include both clostridium difficile (C. diff) spores, a cause of deadly gastrointestinal illnesses, and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a dreaded strain of staph bacteria. Both of these have become resistant to the antibiotics commonly used to treat infections.
The company is named Clodico, and it is based on technology licensed from a private company in Virginia.
“We employ an existing chemical known for its biocidal properties and combine it with a new delivery system,” Fisher told us.
The company, which has both composition matter and process patents, was founded by Venture Incite, a venture capital operating company focused on connecting technology and entrepreneurs in the East Tennessee region. Initial funding has been provided by Solidus Partners in Nashville and Tullahoma-based NEST-TN.
“We just completed independent testing to validate what the (Virginia) company said,” Fisher explained. “The results were even better than advertised.”
Hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities are early targets for Clodico.
When Fisher started her journey to become an entrepreneur in 1995, she says she knew some areas on her resume needed attention. One was consulting, so she joined Accenture and remained there for five years before going out on her own as a consultant.
Fisher and her husband moved to North Carolina in 2004, and she started consulting with organizations like Mountain BizWorks and eventually Tech 20/20 in Oak Ridge. Those experiences led her to higher education, where she spent the last five years with the technology transfer office and the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at UT Knoxville.
“I focused on the tools I needed in my toolbox,” Fisher explained of those various roles. “My toolbox is now complete.”
Unlike how she felt in 1995, she now proclaims, “I’m experienced enough, secure enough and self-confident enough” to pursue the start-up world.
So, when the Clodico opportunity came along, Fisher evaluated it against her self-generated criteria. She said any technology had to solve a big market problem, have a technologist involved and, perhaps most important, something around which she was passionate.
“I have a sister who has an autoimmune system challenge,” Fisher explained, noting the importance of avoiding bacterial and viral infections.
Fisher is also passionate about the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. “We’re one drop in the pond of water,” she says, but she expects Clodico to be a key part of the budding entrepreneurial community in Knoxville-Oak Ridge.