Founder Spotlight — Pavle Jeremic

Blue Bear Ventures
Blue Bear Ventures
Published in
7 min readAug 3, 2021


The BBV Founder Spotlight is a series of posts highlighting founders from our portfolio companies and the incredible work they are pursuing to solve challenges in critical industries such as health and climate through technology innovation.

Thank you Pavle for taking the time.

Contributor Irfan Vissandjee

Pavle Jeremic, Co-Founder at Aether Bio

Tell us about your company. What defines your innovation?

The innovation has 3 pillars: first total automation of the experimentation of biology, second using the learning model with more sophisticated algorithm to actually understand how biology works and more importantly, to support the first two pillars, we are doing hardware & process innovation, custom-built machine of unprecedented size at a lower cost to engineer enzymes for customers much faster. Put simply, the problem we are solving for our client that wants to make a molecule (drug, material — pick your favorite) and gear the enzyme to build that molecule from basic building blocks at a minimal cost. The innovation is the hardware side, we created a robotic factory which is incredibly high throughput compared to what was built before.

Where did your company’s name come from?

Aether Bio name came as a reference to the asteroids, in greek mythology, Aether was the primordial god of light and the future state. The intent behind Aether is the association of the future state with the famous third law from British science fiction writer Arthur Clarke that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”.

What was the motivation behind starting your company?

As far as I can remember, I have been obsessed with building a better future for the human race which is the mission of our company. With Aether, we want to build a post-scarcity future, where the quality of life of each human being is raised and most goods can be produced in abundance. This obsession comes from my background, going back in time, my parents came to the US as the civil war started in ex-Yugoslavia, I remember spending most of my childhood sitting on my parents' laps in their labs as they were studying for their PhDs. It was rather an unusual upbringing since grad students don’t necessarily earn enough to afford daycare, later on, I decided to spend more time in ex-Yugoslavia visiting my grandparents. I grew up with this dichotomy, on the one hand, the university ecosystem in parts of the US which are all fine living there and other parts of the world like ex-Yugoslavia where bombing raids took place, with craters and warfare. So with that experience at a young age, I always asked myself why does this dichotomy exist? And how do we solve it? I quickly came to the conclusion that the main thing that causes this sort of violence to occur is material atrocity. Time and time again, if a family cannot provide for their family then things can quickly turn sour. How do we minimise the situation where people feel they have to go to extremes in order to potentially salvage their life situation? We are trying to do that by taking biology and cross-pollinate with engineering. Simply put, at Aether we are automating the process of biological enzyme and engineering using cutting-edge ML algorithms with extremely high-level robots.

What role did the University play in the formation of your company or technology?

Starting in middle school I became passionate about synthetic biology and early in high school, I was very fortunate to have met a professor at UC Davis mentoring me on research there, way before studying astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. By that time, I had several years of lab experience, so not only was I demystified by biological engineering but also as a freshman in undergrad, I would walk in and be exposed to research immediately.

How did you meet your co-founder? How long did it take?

We met in undergrad, during a UC Santa Cruz project, as part of the team I put together. The relationship developed organically, as I was looking for people I would feel comfortable working with.

Aether Bio team

How is the firm different today from when you first started?

When we launched in July 2017, Aether was going through the CITRIS Foundry. Our company has changed dramatically since its early days, Aether was less so focused on hardware innovation and more focused on microbe engineering think of an AWS for synthetic biology (cf. Gingko Bioworks). After the Foundry, we received a grant from the NSF (national program) and by talking to numerous customers, we realised that our potential clients were not looking at microbes to manufacture their drugs and materials but instead were more focused on enzymes — This was the pivot which happened after the Foundry.

Before talking to clients, I had increasingly become suspicious of engineering microbes. In most cases, you didn’t need to use the full microbe to reach the intended effect. Then we received several feedbacks from clients questioning our approach to studying microbes. Fast forward to 2021, we have built hard technology and are now pushing hard on the commercialisation front.

How has the fundraising process been for the company?

Fundraising is always very difficult. For every stage of the company’s life cycle, it is a totally different ballgame and you take a different approach, for me it is a continuous learning process. For all the entrepreneurs out there, fundraising takes a lot of experience and is a very bumpy road.

My few takeaways from fundraising: you need a meticulous plan, build good collateral, work well with your team and create a comprehensive data room then you have to get ready to hear negative answers several times. This helps you build a thicker skin, psychological grip and it’s not abnormal to take several meetings before getting the positive traction/momentum. One piece of advice I would share is to learn about the reasons your pitch was turned down and don’t take it personally, keep pushing forward.

What aspects of BBV’s coaching and support were the most helpful?

BBV has been hugely helpful in providing advice, help me run different questions and get their expertise. What I really enjoyed is the breadth of experiences from the various team members with different expertise. They will give you advice that is all founded and totally different from any other VCs out there, which is very unusual. BBV has been hugely helpful to me, especially at the early stages, when we were launching Aether.

What’s ahead for your company in 2021/2022? Can you briefly describe your vision for Aether?

Vision: To build a future where products can be manufactured almost anywhere at a very low cost. Not just existing products that are available but developing new classes of products like new types of computer chips, materials, pharmaceuticals for every human being on the planet.

To get to that point, to create a future where the industrial production of the species is so great that the minimum quality of life a person can experience can be much better than what we are experiencing today. You need to make disruptive changes to the modern manufacturing techniques to achieve this and allow the whole population to live their lives like in the most developed countries, we are talking about some form of nanotechnologies to make industrial manufacturing more efficient, as an example of this technology is biology. Nature has already figured out how to do this but it’s important to figure out how to replicate itself. We need to make the products we need by starting off with nature and the machinery of nature to make complex molecule, and improve over the next 5 years to be able to make literally any molecule you want. Once you get to that point, you can start building more complex machines ex: gear at a nanoscale, from there you can build more efficient assembly lines. From there the efficiency and productivity gains are limitless and great for the human race.

What lasting impact do you want to leave with your company?

With Aether, I would feel fulfilled with an increase in the quality of life of people and where material/product shortages disappear. For instance, I would love to see the WHO 150 essentials medicine accessible at a very low cost across the world thanks to Aether. As a starting point, I am looking for an abundance of products at very cheap prices.

Describe your firm’s culture in 5 words or less.

Passionate, extremely hard working and transparent!



Blue Bear Ventures
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