STORY: Alum’s Startup Becomes Big Player in Biomedical/Software Industries

March 29, 2023

Co-founder Jacob Graham ’06 discusses Enzyme’s journey from startup to majority-share acquisition.

Since graduating from Olin, Jacob Graham ’06 has redefined his place in the life sciences industry. After co-founding Enzyme, a successful and recently majority-share acquired Quality Management Systems (QMS) software tool, Graham is now helping streamline innovations for everyone from startups to large enterprises.

In the beginning of his career, Graham spent more than a decade in the medical devices industry working in a range of engineering roles — in research and development, design assurance, and quality systems — for companies like Boston Scientific and Medtronic, as well as a small startup.

“After working for the two largest medical device manufacturers, I saw that while they had created very different quality systems, they both used a wide variety of tools for their workflows,” says Graham. “I would routinely log into 4–6 different technology platforms for training, performance, compliance, and more, and I knew there had to be a more streamlined way.”

Portrait of Jacob Graham'06 smiling, light brown hair, glasses

Portrait of Jacob Graham'06. Co-founder of Enzyme, a successful and recently majority-share acquired Quality Management Systems (QMS) software tool.

It was 2016 when Graham’s friend Jared Seehafer came to him with the idea of harmonizing these different platforms into one cloud-hosted application.

“I saw immediate benefit in this idea as a user, and my intimate familiarity with those different workflows combined well with Jared’s complementary background in medical devices and software,” says Graham. “In 2017, that idea launched as Enzyme.”

Enzyme’s name comes from the biological protein: When an enzyme is involved in a chemical reaction, it acts as a catalyst, decreasing the needed amount of energy. Graham and Seehafer’s Enzyme works in much the same way, by making it easier for companies to get their ideas from product to market by reducing the friction of multiple quality system workflows.

Enzyme overcame one of the early challenges faced by many startups — capital — by accomplishing a few rounds of seed funding, including Parcel B, an investment collective of Olin alumni and community member investors who support Olin startups, and Y Combinator.

In 2022, Roivant Sciences, a public company that invests in biotechnology and biotech data-enabling companies, became the majority shareholder of Enzyme. Because of this share purchase, Parcel B was able to donate a portion of the profit from the sale back to Olin, fulfilling a pledge the investment collective’s founders made to then-President Rick Miller.

Enzyme is still independently operated, with Graham filling the role of COO. He oversees the company’s professional services/consulting group, their customer success team, and the quality team, which has been responsible for documenting user needs and requirements and testing and approving new releases several times a month.

“The whole team is proud of our work — so much so that we use Enzyme to document our own QMS,” says Graham. The process of using their own software, known in the industry as “dogfooding,” means that sometimes they catch errors and fix them before customers even notice.

“We have built an organization that is very effective, and our integrations allow customers to get their products to market faster,” says Graham. “With Enzyme, some of our customers have cut the time between code completion and deployment to users from eight weeks to two weeks. It’s successes like this that highlight why Enzyme exists.”