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Balancing the Grind with Nina Patrick, CEO & Co-Founder at MiProbes

Nina Patrick is the co-founder and CEO of MiProbes Biotechnologies, a health-tech startup developing diagnostics that allow instant at-home health tracking and optimization.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

My role is CEO and Co-Founder of MiProbes Biotechnologies. MiProbes is a health-tech startup helping health-conscious people understand their health without going to the doctor. Using just their urine, our customers check their nutrient intake and get personalized advice on our web dashboard to optimize their daily habits for better health results.

I moved from San Francisco, California to Berlin almost three years ago to start the business. Berlin offers a strong startup ecosystem, quick innovation and a great support network, which are just a few reasons I chose to start my business here.

Recently, I was awarded Newcomer of the Year by the German Startup Association, and MiProbes has been recognized in several national German newspapers for our impact on digital health.

Before starting my company, I was the first employee at Prospect Bio in San Francisco, which used synthetic biology to build biological sensors for fragrances and flavor molecules. My primary responsibility at Prospect was to lead research and development and work closely with our patent lawyer. 

I have a doctorate in Pharmaceutical Sciences and a bachelors in Pharmaceutical Chemistry. During my PhD I worked within the university technology transfer office where I analyzed intellectual property proposals and evaluated opportunities for those technologies in the marketplace. This is where I was first exposed to commercializing technology to solve big problems and where the entrepreneurial seed was planted.

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

My team is very small so I’m currently wearing the operations, human resources, administrative, sales, marketing, and fundraising hats. I’ve heard the title CEO referred to as the “Chief Everything Officer” and I feel that is true more than ever.

For the most part, I keep my mornings clear for “deep work” and take all of my meetings in the afternoons. I start work around 9am and wrap up around 7pm to accommodate meetings in various time zones.

A recent workday looked like:

  • Updating and editing our investment pitch deck
  • Updating and resubmitting financial plan for a German grant application
  • Video pitch with an Asian investment fund based 
  • Video interview with potential remote intern based in Australia
  • One hour video meeting with business coach
  • Video pitch with a German investment fund 
  • Setting and reviewing goals for Q1 2022
  • Networking video call with former coworker based in California

I’m constantly switching between pitching the company (sales or fundraising) and closing out operative tasks. With this type of schedule, it’s absolutely essential to allow myself five to ten minutes before each meeting to get my head clear about who I am meeting and to review notes from previous conversations.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine? 

We are a remote-first team and at the moment 100% remote. 

During the COVID pandemic, we decided to eliminate our office and transition to 100% remote work. My co-founder and I are both based in Berlin so we meet up in-person weekly, but we primarily work out of our respective home offices. Our employees are international, and we work asynchronously across multiple time zones.

I love working from home. I find it’s the quietest place for me to work and where I can be the most productive. I actually struggled to maintain my focus when I worked in the office; I was always wanting to engage with people and if anyone was nearby I would jump into a conversation.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

As a founder of a company, my work is deeply integrated in my life. Therefore, I am very diligent about maintaining my health so that I have energy for work, fun, and relaxation.

I exercise 3-5 times a week early in the mornings, I make sure I get at least seven hours of sleep each night, and I eat healthy. I keep my evenings and weekends free to meet with friends and spend time with my partner. 

One trick I’ve adopted is to disable notifications from work-centric apps during the evenings and weekends to prevent myself from getting sucked into incoming messages. Especially because our team works asynchronously, messages can come at any hour and, without that forced boundary, I’ll engage and want to respond.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life? 

During the pandemic, I really let my calendar and work-life balance get out of control. At the beginning of this year, I decided to change how I was working. 

Now, I block my calendar every day from 6am – 12pm: 6am-9am is now reserved as personal time (exercise, reading and writing), and 9am-12pm I’m focused on professional work with no interruptions. I try my best to not take meetings during this time to allow myself to get into a flow.

Setting this routine and consciously protecting my time for “deep work” has been the best change I have made as a professional. I can’t stress enough how much of a positive impact this has made in my life.

To read more about this, I posted an article here

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts, or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

Books:

  • It’s About Damn Time: How to Turn Being Underestimated Into Your Greatest Advantage by Arlan Hamilton
  • The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters by Priya Parker

Podcasts:

  • How I Built This with Guy Raz

Newsletters:

  • Planet Money
  • WIRED Daily
  • Gastro Obscura 

7) Are there any products, gadgets, or apps that you can’t live without?

Product: Corkcicle water bottle – Keeps sparkling water cold and bubbly all day!

Gadget: Fitbit Luxe – For tracking my movement and sleep. Plus, the design is sleek.

App: Humanity – Shows me my rate of aging and biological age; a clear motivator to make healthy daily choices

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?   

Arlan Hamilton and Priya Parker please! I found their books so inspirational. I’d love to hear more.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Work-life balance changes all the time. A schedule that works for you for one year might not work for the next year, as your priorities or personal situation changes. Experimentation is the key to finding what works for you at the right time. It’s important to be patient with yourself as you try different strategies, adapt, and make changes.

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.