Jeff Schwegman of AB BioTechnologies

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Jeff Schwegman-webJeff Schwegman launched AB BioTechnologies Inc. in 2008 to provide lab services for injectable drug development. The Bloomington, Indiana-based company serves pharma companies and makers of diagnostic testing kits, and it specializes in lyophilizing (freeze-drying), which extends the shelf life of compounds. Since 2012 Schwegman has participated in a PeerSpectives CEO roundtable, hosted by the Cook Center for Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech Community College, which has benefited him in a numbers of ways.

“PeerSpectives has been a huge help,” Schwegman says. “I’m a scientist by training, and the roundtable has given me a lot more confidence in running a business. It’s great to bounce ideas off other members and find out what worked for them, what didn’t work — and what they would do differently to avoid pitfalls.”

Among some of Schwegman’s specific takeaways, the roundtable has helped with:

  • Dealing with an out-of-state client who wasn’t paying his bills.
  • Working with overseas customers.
  • Finding reliable service providers in accounting and information technology.
  • Adding a manufacturing division, which will enable AB Biotech to offer clients a seamless transition from R&D to producing materials for early-phase clinical trials.

Regarding the new division, Schwegman credits his roundtable facilitator, Steve Bryant, and Joyce Poling at the Cook Center, for making introductions within government and industry circles to assist with everything from zoning issues to securing workforce training grants and tax incentives. “Lynn Coyne, Marilyn Skirvin and Dana Palazzo from the Bloomington Economic Development Council have also been an immense help in getting things going,” Schwegman says. “Running a business is not just about the numbers. It’s important to make contacts and learn how to work with the city.”

In addition to gaining more business savvy, Schwegman values the community of the roundtable. “We’ve become really close,” he says. “Granted, family and friends may be sympathetic, but they don’t really understand what you’re going through as a business owner. Running a company can get highly emotional. You may be having a rough time or have a tough decision to make, and it’s great to be able to talk to someone who is in a similar boat. And on the flip side, you get excited for people when they have successes.”

In 2015 AB BioTech broke the $1 million mark in revenue, and in the next five years Schwegman hopes to grow the business to more than $15 million with 25 employees. “It’s tough to put a monetary number on it, but the roundtable has definitely helped me grow the company regarding decisions I’ve made,” Schwegman says. “Plus, it’s made my life a lot easier.”

Copyright © 2016 by the Edward Lowe Foundation

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The PeerSpectives Roundtable System (PRS) gives business associations and professionals who cater to entrepreneurs a new service offering.

PeerSpectives sets itself apart from other CEO roundtables with its methodology. Procedures are in place to help the group focus on identifying and processing an entrepreneur’s core issue. The protocol ensures a balanced discussion that is not dominated by any one topic or individual. Perhaps even more important, the PeerSpectives system emphasizes the sharing of experiences rather than advice giving.