“Come to grips with the reality that starting a business is messy and own it.”
–Jay Pitts // ClinCept
Supported by StartUP Columbus
Although 49 percent of Georgia residents are people of color, under 5 percent of clinical research participants are people of color. Jay Pitts and his company ClinCept are on a mission to change that statistic and bring greater diversity to clinical research.
Like most clinical research firms, ClinCept contracts with pharmaceutical companies to conduct unbiased research on proposed medical technology, but it’s Jay’s mission that sets him apart.
Jay’s passion for clinical research is rooted in his own story. While getting his undergraduate degree in biology with the intent of applying to medical school, he lost both of his grandmothers to cancer. The loss spurred him down a new path to clinical research in search of more effective treatments for disease.
During the early stages of his career, Jay discovered the striking disparities between who participates in research studies and who is being treated. While 5 percent of study participants are people of color, it’s well established that black people suffer higher mortality rates on average than their white counterparts.
By prioritizing the inclusion of black people and other marginalized groups into his clinical studies, Jay seeks to repair the damage wrought by an unjust healthcare system.
Although Jay started ClinCept with a clear vision for what he wanted to accomplish, he needed clarity around the steps to turn that vision into reality. He found that clarity when he met Ben MacMinn, Executive Director of StartUP Columbus, a local entrepreneurship hub.
With Ben’s encouragement, Jay joined the CO.STARTERS Core program at StartUP Columbus for help with starting ClinCept. “The most important thing I took from the program,” Jay said, “was the question: are you serious about your business or not?”
StartUP Columbus and CO.STARTERS Core also helped Jay understand what it means to be a business owner—how to consider business costs up front, manage people, and see running a business as a way of life.
Ultimately, they helped Jay address his uncertainty around starting a business and gave him the accountability he needed to start. Through working with StartUP Columbus, Jay confronted the realities of business ownership, took the plunge, and made his passion a reality.
“Part of the value of the CO.STARTERS cohort experience is that you’re with people who have such vastly different experiences and have expertise that you don’t have.”
Like most CO.STARTERS alumni, Jay also found lasting connection with his fellow cohort members.
“Part of the value of the CO.STARTERS cohort experience,” Jay said, “is that you’re with people who have such vastly different experiences and have expertise that you don’t have.”
The diversity of experience within a cohort allows each entrepreneur to take advantage of the lessons that others have learned.
Although ClinCept is still young—only twenty-one months old—Jay offered his own wisdom for entrepreneurs just beginning their journeys: “Come to grips with the reality that starting a business is messy and own it.”
In Jay’s experience, succeeding as an entrepreneur requires commitment. “Come to a place where your business is real to you,” he said, “and ask yourself, ‘Am I really in this?’”