Sourcing Investments Through RESI: An Interview with Julz Co

15 Mar

Zishan Haroon

An interview with Zishan Haroon, Chairman and General Partner, Julz Co

– By Claire Jeong, Research Analyst, LSN

Claire Jeong

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Zishan “Z” Haroon, Chairman and General Partner of Julz Co. Z has been a tremendous supporter of the Redefining Early Stage Investments (RESI) Conference Series and a frequent contributor to several of our ongoing investor panels. As many of you already know, the RESI Conference is a one-day partnering conference dedicated to early-stage life sciences technologies, from therapeutics, medical devices, diagnostics, and digital health. In fact, we have recently learned that the firm’s latest investment was in a company Z had met through RESI! In this interview, Z discusses his perspectives on his RESI experience, Julz’s most recent investment, and some tips for fundraising CEOs.

Claire Jeong: First of all, please tell us a little bit about your background.

Z Haroon: My name is Zishan “Z” Haroon and I am the Chairman and General Partner of Julz Co, an investment management firm which invests in healthcare companies internationally including the USA, Europe, and China.  I am an MD, Ph.D. by education.  I graduated from Duke University and initially worked in academic and pharma research.  Later, I moved into venture, private equity, and corporate/business development.  I have worked on helping entrepreneurs with commercialization for many years, and have been involved in transactions and operations in China for 15+ years before founding Julz.

Claire Jeong: How many RESI conferences have you attended? What was your first impression of the RESI Conference series?

Z Haroon: I have attended 5 conferences to date and found them to be a very fast-paced and active environment. The timeline of RESI is great because it allows us to go through companies we have interviewed in depth and make our decision regarding next steps and then prepare for the next event. Overall, the experience we have had with companies at RESI has been very positive.

Claire Jeong: In general, what do you think of the companies that attend RESI?

Z Haroon: There has been a constant improvement in the quality of attending companies, and our interaction with them has always been positive. In comparison to other similar events, there are more early-stage companies and we like that mix. Some conferences are therapeutics-focused, some are medical-device-focused, but at RESI there is a very good mix of all sectors and we enjoy this diversity.

Claire Jeong: What successes have you experienced through RESI?

Z Haroon: We just closed an investment in a company called PhotoniCare. This is our first successful investment in a company we’ve met at RESI.  We first met the company at RESI San Diego in June 2017 and continued a great relationship that eventually led to an investment. (You can read more about this investment in-depth at http://www.julzco.com/2018/03/09/photonicare-secures-series-seed-funding.)

Claire Jeong: In your opinion, what are the greatest strengths of RESI?

Z Haroon: One of RESI’s greatest strengths is the partnering platform, which is a very approachable system for reviewing companies and scheduling meetings. You make it extremely easy for investors to attend your conferences and engage with companies. It is only a one-day event but highly efficient and a win-win for both sides.

Also, from the investor perspective, it is helpful to be able to touch base on a periodic basis with companies that we previously spoke with.  This enables us to continue to build and strengthen relationships with companies. What we have found from many companies is that they are very responsive to the feedback we provide, and we find them significantly improved since our initial RESI meeting.

Claire Jeong: Do you have any suggestions for RESI?

Z Haroon: I would suggest RESI expand to other geographies, such as the Midwest. Currently, most of your events are done in the West or East coast in major biotech hubs, but we would be curious to explore technologies in different areas. Companies with innovative technologies that may not have enough bandwidth for travel would find your conferences very helpful and valuable.

RESI would also do well internationally, in regions like Europe or China. RESI’s partnering system is great for small companies, so a start-up-focused event like RESI would definitely gain a lot of international momentum.

Claire Jeong: As an active investor and partner seeking early-stage opportunities, do you have any advice you would like to give to startups?

Z Haroon: The biggest gaps we see in early-stage companies when they present to us is that they themselves are not very well caught up with their technology and business plan. Like other sophisticated investors, we get to the nitty gritty very quickly. I would encourage start-ups to do their homework: understand what they are trying to accomplish and be focused about it. If we see that the management team is not on top of the technology and commercial landscapes and are vague or elusive in answering our questions, we will likely pass on the opportunity.

The initial meeting is where you have to create the right impression about the company and the management team, educate us on the market opportunity and technology, and explain how you are seeking to scale and enter the market. Answering these questions well and leaving us with a good impression will lead to a great, long-term relationship and potential investment.

We obviously enjoy our time at RESI and it is always very exciting. Keep it up!

About Julz Co:

Julz Co is an investment management company focused on investing in early-stage healthcare companies in the area of therapeutics, medical devices, services and digital healthcare. The company has offices in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA and Suzhou, China. Julz invests globally in companies that have novel and proprietary technology addressing a vital market need and are driven by experienced management teams.

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