FirstIgnite Profile

Posted Nov 9th, 2020

FirstIgnite has built AI-powered business development tools that help the trillions of dollars worth of uncommercialized research and intellectual property get to market.

 

Chase Bonhag, CEO and Co-Founder

1. What experience or person encouraged you to be an entrepreneur?

My father.  I grew up around entrepreneurship, whether it be healthcare consulting, IT infrastructure development or importing teak furniture from Thailand, he's always trying something new with a business vision in mind.  

2. What has been your biggest challenge in being an entrepreneur/startup?

It took a long time without revenue or capital between idea to the first customer.  It took even longer from our first customer to any level of consistent revenue or income.

3. What are you most proud of?

We kept going, together. 

 

Cody Pawlowski, CTO and Co-Founder 

1. What experience or person encouraged you to be an entrepreneur?

There’s no single person or event that inspired my entrepreneurial journey, but rather a collection of adventures and learnings, and maybe some personality traits as well. From a young age, I enveloped myself in technology and became familiar with its boundless potential in our world. And for better or worse, I was impatient, which led me to build solutions of my own much of the time—fostering self-sufficiency and giving me the intuition to spot and correct both technological and organizational inefficiencies. I took this attitude wherever I went, coupled with my instinctive duty to support others, which became a lifestyle that I still perpetuate to this day.

2. What has been your biggest challenge in being an entrepreneur/startup?

The biggest challenge I’ve faced as an entrepreneur was the decision to forgo higher education to pursue my first official (incorporated) startup. What originally began as a gap year following my freshman year at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is now nearly a gap demi-decade. In this time, I’ve encountered many hardships and grown far more as a person than I could’ve ever expected to otherwise, which is something that I’m thankful for every day.

3. What are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of the culture and team we’ve cultivated at FirstIgnite. We’re a collective of incredibly talented and dedicated individuals who are all working towards the common goal of advancing humankind through the successful commercialization of scientific research. Chase and I have taken the principles and learnings from our previous ventures and applied them to FirstIgnite in the best way possible: driving innovation and building an open, nimble environment where it’s encouraged to fail and try new things. An environment where the best data-driven idea wins regardless of any hierarchy. We’re privileged to be engaged with brilliant researchers across the U.S. and abroad whose work has the potential to improve many aspects of our lives, and none of this would be possible without our team’s continuous efforts.