Meet Jenny Ro, a scientist and CEO at Curious Reactors, a data-driven curator that brings you closer to the right people in the technology industry.
Jenny Ro was determined to become a scientist since she was 6 years old. Although born in America, she grew up in South Korea in a government-designated Science and Technology R&D town where all her neighbours were Ph.D. and M.D. A scientist by profession, she was a postdoc fellow at Harvard Medical school researching cancer-related biology. This is when she realized that only 1% of the discoveries the scientists make in universities get out to the world. As a result, she set out to solve this inefficiency in technology transfer by pivoting in her career.
In 2018, she started Curious Reactor with an algorithm where people network, collaborate, transfer technology and invest. Elaborating on what the company does, she says, “Curious Reactor is a SaaS platform that matchmakes people in the innovation ecosystem for collaboration, advice, funding, partnership, etc. We ask people to express their networking needs in their own words; we process the natural language and find the matches that complement people’s needs, then make a warm introduction. We service events, conferences, and membership-based organizations as a Chief Connector! Based on the connections we’ve made, people won investments, found R&D collaborators, technology for licensing, etc.”
Jenny has been a scientist all her life and had no experience in the business world when she started. She never imagined working on the business side but is learning as she goes. She says, “It is challenging to raise funds and find the right people who can help to grow the company. In Curious Reactor, it has been founder-funded and bootstrapped all the way through.”. She adds furthermore that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was hard where they lost clients, revenue, had to let go of some team members, and are currently seeking a strategic partner to license the core technology and know-how or take over the operation.
Curious Reactors is growing with the help of referrals from previous customers. The response has been very positive as people find the tool necessary and the founding story quite inspiring. They appreciate the service and connections they were able to discover through it. The story of Curious Reactor has been featured in 5 podcasts, and they were also the semifinalist for the Babson College Startup competition.
In Ro’s own words, “Running a startup takes a lot and it puts a tremendous amount of pressure on one’s personal life. While Jenny extensively grew her business network, her personal life has taken a toll and even cost her romantic life. Despite some of these sacrifices, she still thinks the journey has been rewarding without any regret.” She has drawn wisdom from all walks of life and believes that from the Director of National Science Foundation to an Uber driver, everyone has contributed to making her entrepreneurial journey equally valuable.
The growth may be slow, and the path towards success may be filled with difficulties, but Jenny is determined to make it work. She is ever ready to face the challenges because she believes in the cause of her company. Leaving an inspiring message for her readers, she says, “Many people say “do what you are passionate about”, but this never really resonated with me because I was passionate about many things. It wasn’t until I started thinking about “What pisses me off about this world and how can I contribute to solve it”, I was able to distill things down to my true callings. I know everyone has that burning purpose in their heart and a capacity to do something about it!”