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A little background on this company from the former CEO who did leave the company when the problems began:

Pamela G. MarronePamela G. Marrone
President and CEO, AgraQuest, Inc.

B.S. in Entomology, North Carolina State University
Ph.D. in Entomology, Cornell University

From 1983 to 1990, Pam was in charge of the Insect Control group at . Her group was instrumental in pioneering projects in genetically engineered microbial pesticides and transgenic crops for insect control. After Monsanto, Pam was founding president of . Under her tenure as president of Entotech, the company discovered, developed, and marketed microbial pesticides. Later, Pam left to start up a new company called , which discovers, develops, and markets safe, environmentally friendly, and effective natural products for farm, home, and public health pest management. AgraQuest, which started operations in , is launching its first product for mosquito larvae applications. Pam has published over thirty journal articles and book chapters on biopesticides, biotechnology applications to insect control, and other entomology topics. She is frequently quoted in the media. She serves on the board of and is a former board member of and the .

The following is a transcript of Dr. Marrone's presentation at Biology Career Day 1997:

I've had an interest in entomology since I was eight years old. So I was sort of singularly focused on a career in entomology. I got a bachelor's degree in it at Cornell University, and a Ph.D. in it from North Carolina State University. From NC State, I was hired by Monsanto Agricultural Company to head up their new insect biotechnology program. They were putting genes into plants for insect control. I was head of that entomology program, which was about twelve to fifteen research people, for seven years. Then I was hired by a Danish company called , which produces insulin and enzymes. They were starting a new program in biological pesticides. They asked me to start up a new company in Davis, California, doing biological pesticide work.

So I moved from St. Louis to Davis and started up the company. We named it Entotech. Entotech was operational for about five years, but three years into it, I knew that Novo was not going to stay in it. Novo Nordisk - agriculture was not their forte, and so I had inklings that they were going to sell us. So I wrote a business plan on nights and weekends for a new company. I couldn't leave the company because I didn't have the financial resources to do so. I downsized our personal spending - my husband is a social worker so he doesn't make that much money. We saved up a lot of money while I was still working in the company, anticipating that I would leave and not be making much money.

I left in January of 1995 and incorporated the new company, which we named AgraQuest, took some employees from the old company, started up with some of our own money, but most of the money we raised from people we knew. We raised about $500,000 to start up the company. We sold stock in a private placement, $5,000 blocks of stock each, and that's how we raised the money to start up. That got the company up to the point where it was more attractive to big investors. In order to continue to fund the company, we needed millions of dollars. I just finished raising 3.2 million dollars in extra capital. That money is going to launch our first product, which is a fungus for controlling mosquito larvae in water. Our second and third products are bacteria for controlling plant diseases in agricultural crops. Then we have some other discoveries.

So the money will be used to hire people to move all these projects forward. We have twelve people - we have a management team of myself, a vice president of product development who has a bachelor's degree in entomology, then a chief financial officer, a person who has a bachelor's degree in chemistry, and then he has a J.D. - he was a patent attorney. He's our marketing and business development V.P. Then the rest is scientific staff. We have two microbiologists, two natural product chemists, a formulation chemist, a fermentation engineer, more product development, plant pathologist - and they all have varying degrees of bachelor's, master's, and Ph.D.

Questions and Answers

Can you guys each tell about how you came to your position? Were you recruited, did you apply through resumes, along that line?
I was recruited by Monsanto. They had an on-campus recruiter at NC State. So they interviewed several of us and decided which of us they would bring to Monsanto. I had to give a presentation and go through a whole day interview. I got the job that way. For Novo Nordisk, they were trying to find somebody to head up this new company in Davis. I ran across the Novo people because I had created a working group, an industry consortium looking at a particular problem - insects developing resistance to genetically engineered plants. And I began that work when I was at Monsanto. So I was in a leadership position in the industry. And Novo was a member of that consortium. Because of that, they plucked me out and recruited me from Monsanto.

What ever became of Entotech?
We sold to Abbott Laboratories. They closed down the Davis operation. Most of the people didn't want to move from California to North Chicago. So they didn't take many employees. About three of my employees went to Abbott - most of the others went into other companies. I took three. Abbott owns all the patents and products and such that we had been working on.

How do you spend most of your time?
I spend most of my time focused on raising money. So it's probably visiting people. Lately I haven't been in the office very much. When I was heavily involved in raising money, before we raised the 3.2 million, I spent most of my time talking to investors, either on the phone or in person, and selling them on the company - telling them why they should invest. Now I'm over that phase. So I'm spending a lot of time creating partnerships with larger companies. Some of our products we might not want to develop ourselves. So I've been talking to people at other companies, visiting them, getting out. Now we're looking for money to expand our mosquito product in Asia - so we're looking for Asian investors. So I guess most of my day is spent talking to people, selling one thing or another about the company.

Have you acquired your business skills through classes (formal education), or just out there in the real world?
Yeah, that's a good question. I worked at Monsanto for seven years, and they had a lot of resources, a lot of courses you could take both internally and externally in the business area if you were so inclined. You didn't have to, but I did. I took about three courses a year. Then at Novo Nordisk, they didn't have much in-house, but they allowed you to take a certain
number of courses every year. I took courses at and other graduate schools, and took marketing - a lot of marketing courses. So that gave me the background.

I think the Ph.D. is a noose around my neck. I usually drop it off my name when I'm doing correspondence because most money people will think that, if you have a Ph.D., you're too technically oriented to know business stuff. So I just don't even bother to put it on my name. I have to really watch what I say in order not to get too technical, so they don't think I'm too technical and don't know the business side.

Are you involved in research as well?
No, I don't do any research. But the way we're structured is that everybody works in teams. We have a team leader for each product. They run the research and development. I check in to make sure they're keeping to the benchmarks that we set. Investors want to see that we're keeping to our plan. So that's what I worry about. But the scientists run the R and D show.

Could you also comment on the stability and the differences between non-profit and private industry? I really don't know the difference.
That's a really interesting question. When I started AgraQuest, I thought it would be really difficult to recruit people because we're small and start-up and real risky. And we get over a hundred to two hundred resumes for every job as well. The climate today is such that it's volatile in any industry - there's downsizing, mergers, acquisitions, so you don't know. We felt like we'd be less attractive as a big company, but we found we're actually very attractive to people because we offer stock options and the ability for a scientist to own part of the company. Let's say we give stock options at 35 cents a share, and we go public on the stock market at $10 a share. A bachelor's level scientist could haul in $300,000, and they'll never have an opportunity to do that again. So it surprised me - maybe I shouldn't have been surprised - that that's very attractive to many scientists. It's just volatile anywhere, and there is not as much stability as there used to be. I think you have to remain flexible and open.