Meet a Mentor- Susanne Cappendijk

June 24, 2015

Dr. Susanne Cappendijk van Engelen, MBA, mentored Startup Quest® team Luventia to first place in CareerSource Capital Region (Leon County). Susanne guided Luventia team members through the technology commercialization process as they developed a simulated businesses based on a real pain-free meter technology for diabetes management.

Mentors are key in helping participants learn the concepts of business development and entrepreneurship, leading to greater employability or self-employment. Susanne is just one example of Startup Quest® mentors helping graduates bring technologies to the commercial market. We caught up with Susanne recently to garner some lessons from her experience as a Startup Quest® mentor.


Entrepreneurial Experience: I work with multiple entrepreneurial startup businesses by sharing my experiences with them as a senior scientist, a consultant, a coach, a mentor, or any combination thereof. I am the Founder and President of Semper Clarus Consulting, which prepares non-clinical reports of pharmaceuticals and biopharmaceuticals and medical devices as part of project feasibility analysis studies. Our family-owned software company, Genivia Inc., was established 12 years ago. My husband and I turned this small entrepreneurial startup business into a globally recognized industry leader in XML communication. I am, besides the CFO, responsible for leading the license agreement negotiations at all levels. I have extensive experience with people management in cross-functional, cross-cultural and cross-scientific matrices.I created SciGirls, Science Club, Math Competition and Mu Alpha Theta sponsorships grants. In addition, through fundraising our software company established the Genivia Fund for Entrepreneurship to support undergraduate and graduate students engaged in entrepreneurship programs.


Why I Mentor: Mentoring is a two-way communication. I like to share with my mentees the advice that I received from my mentors when I was working in academia and in corporate entrepreneurial environments. By sharing my personal experiences, my team members can understand and hopefully apply this valuable advice to develop their own level of professionalism and reach their goals. However, a good mentor is not static, but rather dynamic. While mentoring, I am learning from each team member’s life experiences. These experiences help me develop a higher level of mentoring skills. Every interaction with a participant, staff member, or other mentor in this program is a valuable teaching and life experience.


I also like to help people discover their strengths, both business and personal, and make them aware of their market/entrepreneurial abilities in order to enhance their budding business performance. I enjoy helping my mentees understand that there are a lot of opportunities to grow and become successful once you are aware of yourself.


Best Mentoring Moment: Each team member is unique; and therefore, I have the opportunity to experience a number of “best mentoring moments.” Some of my favorite experiences are:

  • When a team member steps up to the plate and holds other team members accountable
  • When a team member realizes that they do not have to be a perfectionist
  • When a team member realizes that a mentor does not know everything
  • When a team member realizes his/her own uniqueness and how this uniqueness can be used as an opportunity to make the team flourish
  • When a tornado watch is issued, the power shuts down, the backup generator does not kick in, but the team continues to discuss the slides for their investor pitch by the light of the computer screen and a flashlight! That is the type of team spirit a mentor dreams about at night.


Advice to Entrepreneurs:

  • Find mentors that will really help you, that will challenge you, that will ask questions, and will constantly try to push you to achieve more.
  • When attending an event, reach out to three people you have never met before in an effort to build and expand your network.
  • Accept yourself for who you are. Once you do so, your confidence will make people want to be part of your adventure.
  • Be honest and treat everyone with respect.
  • Know the ins and outs of your business and its environment. Demonstrating this knowledge will give you negotiating power and your stakeholders will be impressed.
  • Learn from your mistakes, and don’t look back. Move on.
  • Take at least one financial planning course. Then, find a trustworthy CPA.