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Forbes ’30 Under 30′ list honoree shares his best entrepreneurship advice

Michael Johnson is the CEO and co-founder of Visikol, a biotech company that “allows scientist to view tissues in a 3-D space” according to Forbes. This makes it much easier for scientists to identify diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer in body tissue samples.

The 27-year-old was recently named to the Forbes “30 Under 30” list for science. Johnson started working on Visikol while he was working on a doctorate in applied microbiology at Rutgers University.

Johnson learned a lot after starting four companies. He shared with Business Insider two pieces of advice to pass on to young aspiring entrepreneurs:

  • “Choose something that you’re passionate about. I often see people getting involved in startups just for the sake of doing it and making money. That can’t be your motivation.”
  • “Read everything and anything you can about your industry so you’re informed when you go to conferences and events. Make sure you’re always looking for people who can help you reach your company goals.”

Although those successes didn’t come first with out a couple of failures.

“I had my fair share of flops before Visikol,” Johnson told Business Insider.

His first debacle was an energy company that made a biofuel out of algae.  It didn’t pan out because the technology was too expensive to be competitive in the current fuel market.

Johnson’s next try at big business took him to Argentina, where he used duckweed to decontaminate waste water. Various regulations in the country put a stop to the project.

Then there was the idea of simplifying vet appointment bookings – that failed as well.

His big break came when he locked down $500,000 in venture capital that was used to jump-start Visikol.

“There was a person willing to give us $25,000, but that wasn’t enough, but he liked the idea so much he connected us with people at Ben Franklin Technology Partners who offered us $100,000,” Johnson said. We leveraged that offer to receive a $500,000 investment from the New Jersey Foundation Venture Capital Group.”


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