Ask any of BioEnterprise’s Executives-in-Residence what makes starting a bioscience business so different from other startups, and you’ll likely hear some variation on 1) a burdensome regulatory pathway, 2) the large amount of capital involved to commercialize, and 3) the long sales cycle. These are tremendous challenges, particularly for first-time entrepreneurs. But help is available.
The Executives-in-Residence program at BioEnterprise is designed to guide entrepreneurs through the commercialization process from concept to market entry, with a focus on startups in the pharmaceutical, medical device and health IT sectors. Our team is comprised of founders, C-suite leaders and scientists — collectively with nearly two centuries of experience — who not only provide advice and make connections but also roll up their sleeves and pitch in to get work done.
Of course it’s possible to go it alone, but experienced advisors help entrepreneurs minimize landmines and get to market faster, reducing the amount of money needed to reach an exit. From projects like helping to develop and polish a pitch deck — BioEnterprise worked with Securus Medical Group, acquired by Boston Scientific in 2018, to articulate their value proposition and address information relevant to investors — to providing a key scientific leader-founder — Executive-in-Residence Brad Lang serves as VP of Research for Convelo Therapeutics, which recently entered into a global collaboration with Genentech, a member of the Roche Group — it’s hard to overemphasize the impact the right know-how at the right time can make.
“There’s nothing more important to a startup than having a team of advisors who’ve been successful executives themselves and can assess their market, provide knowledgeable guidance and make connections to potential sources of funding, partnerships and customers,” says Neema Mayhugh, who leads BioEnterprise’s Executives-in-Residence team.
Take fundraising, for instance: Though venture capital is the most commonly pursued means of raising funds for early- and mid-stage biomedical startups, it’s far from the only option. Angel investors, family offices, strategic partners, hospital-based venture funds — the right approach will depend on many complex factors. It’s possible to waste a lot of time chasing the wrong type of funding, or worse, to take money from the wrong investor or at the wrong terms.
“You get someone who’s been a CEO or been a part of raising money,” says Russ Donda, an Executive-in-Residence who was founding CEO of the now-publicly traded ViewRay and a co-founder of the Emergent Growth Fund, a member-managed angel investment fund. “I’ve been on both sides of the fence: I’ve exited publicly or been acquired, as well as started an angel fund and invested my own money.”
What’s more, the landscape for healthcare and medtech startups is rapidly changing, driven by new and newly inexpensive technologies as well as the thirst for data, automation and machine learning.
“I don’t know if any industry was more disrupted by digital than media,” says Chad Zimmerman, one of BioEnterprise’s newest Executives-in-Residence, who founded a digital sports health multimedia company 15 years ago and holds a chemical engineering degree from Carnegie Mellon University.
“Being through that gives me a good appreciation for how digital can be a disruptive but really helpful force. It can allow you to enter into markets where you can elbow out older, more entrenched folks who aren’t as tech savvy. Digital is not something to be scared of, but to embrace.”
From the consumer perspective, Zimmerman explains, patients expect to be able to educate themselves and have access to information resources. “In the healthcare space it’s even more critical to get successful outcomes and to have patients to be healthier and be more comfortable with their decision-making, and people are going to be digital-first when they go to seek that knowledge,” he says.
From the caregiver side, too, professionals and systems are looking for better solutions to help recruit and train professionals and to increase the efficiency of their employees and processes.
“Any business in any industry is trying to be more data-driven in their decision-making. But a lot of folks are drowning in Big Data. Solutions that are going to help you not just be able to aggregate everything but to organize it and allow you to find insights to manage your business more effectively or drive better patient outcomes or manage your finances more effectively — there are all sorts of businesses popping up to address those challenges,” Zimmerman says.
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