Rev: Ithaca Startup Works is excited to welcome Stephanie A. Wisner ’16 to its team of Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR). Wisner is the co-founder and Chief Business Officer at Centivax, a biotech startup that focuses on broad-spectrum solutions to infectious diseases and pathogens that pose threats to public health. The company is working to improve vaccine technology to address rapidly-mutating viruses that can render past vaccines obsolete.
In 2022, Wisner was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for Healthcare. She has also advised multiple biotech startups on business and commercialization strategy through her consulting business, BioVenture Advising, LLC. Working with early-stage startups has allowed her to share her expertise, both in the sciences and entrepreneurship.
“I have experience in both biotech operations and the venture capital side, including fundraising, commercialization strategy, and partnerships,” Wisner explained.
Wisner’s addition as an EIR solidifies her already-strong connection to the Cornell community. She received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry and chemical biology from Cornell in 2016 and was awarded the Einhorn Discovery Research Grant for her independent research on cancer. She completed a Cornell-hosted National Science Foundation (NSF) I-Corps Regional Course in 2017 before starting at the University of Chicago to study finance, accounting, and entrepreneurship.
In November 2022, Wisner spoke at a W.E. Cornell event to discuss her journey as a woman in entrepreneurship, offering advice and taking questions from audience members. The event brought together the greater Cornell entrepreneurial community, being hosted in collaboration with the Center for Regional Economic Advancement (CREA), Cornell Institute for Food Systems (CIFS), Cornell Division of Nutritional Sciences, Center for Life Science Ventures, Entrepreneurship at Cornell, and Careers Beyond Academia.
Wisner continues to share her wisdom in her book, Building Backwards to Biotech: The Power of Entrepreneurship to Drive Cutting-Edge Science to Market, which was an Amazon #1 New Release in the category of Biotechnology. The book is currently taught as part of bioentrepreneurial programming at multiple institutions of higher education, including Dartmouth College and Cornell University.
Over the course of her entrepreneurship journey, Wisner has experienced how fundraising and networking go hand in hand. She has learned that making connections, being passionate about your story, and sharing your journey with others is an essential part of leading a startup.
“Fundraising is constant. You don’t start fundraising six months before you run out of money,” Wisner said. “You start informally ‘fundraising’ by ensuring you are keeping time in your schedule to get to know venture capitalists, to get them excited about your story. Sometimes those discussions turn into term sheets. Even if they don’t, you can still gain a lot from having them in your network. The best time to make a connection is before you need a favor.”