Successfully Raising Money through RESI: An Interview with Ankit Agarwal, CEO, Imbed Biosciences

13 Feb

Ankit Agarwal

– By Bryanna Allison, Business Development Manager, LSN

Bryanna Allison

Companies frequently ask me the question: does RESI work? We at LSN believe strongly that companies can successfully complete their fundraising if they follow our advice, but you don’t have to take our word for it: I recently spoke to Ankit Agarwal, CEO of Imbed Biosciences, who was eager to share his story of how he used RESI to raise his Series A.

Bryanna Allison: Congratulations on raising your Series A! Why are you so excited to share your story?

Ankit Agarwal: Thank you! I wanted to do this interview to encourage other fundraising CEOs – it’s a long and difficult process. It’s important not to get discouraged, despite how long it may be taking and how many noes you may hear. I found that the key was reaching out to multiple types of investors, and to meet with as many relevant investors as possible. This is why RESI was so helpful –it gave me access to hundreds of investors in one room. Beyond that, RESI is like a community for early stage life sciences; I had the chance to meet fellow fundraising CEOs facing the same challenges, allowing us to make friends and compare notes.

Over the course of a year, I attended 4 RESIs and was selected twice for the Innovation Challenge. I had a lot of meetings and got a lot of noes before I started hearing yeses. My advice is to make sure you are consistent and to get yourself out there as much as possible.

BA: How much did you raise for your Series A?

AA: Our goal for the Series A was to raise $5M in capital. We closed $4M in investments and a $1.5M grant from the NIH for a total of $5.5M in capital.

BA: Did you meet your investors for the first time at RESI?

AA: Yes, we did! But, we were very diligent about reaching out to hundreds of investors, both at RESI and in between conferences, making sure that they were relevant to our technology. We worked hard to get 12-16 meetings scheduled for every RESI we attended, and we got a lot of feedback that helped us refine our message and pitch. We also went into deeper diligence with several investors that did not end up leading to funding, but provided invaluable feedback and connections to the right investors.

BA: How long did your fundraise take?

AA: Before RESI, I was on the road for about 9 months to fundraise. From the initial meeting at RESI, it took about 10 months to finalize the deal, with a lot of back and forth. RESI is like the Disneyland® of early stage investors – it cut out so much time and money that I would have spent to meet with that many investors if I had continued fundraising as I did before attending RESI.

BA: With regards to the fundraising process, was it familiar to you? Do you have prior experience as a startup CEO and with a successful fundraise?

AA: This is my first company – the technology behind Imbed’s products came out of my post-doctoral research at the University of Wisconsin. This was my second round of fundraising for Imbed, the first being three separate seed rounds, raising a total of $3M, over a 4 year span.

BA: How many meeting requests did you send out in the RESI partnering platform?

AA: I sent 100+ requests through the partnering platform at each RESI I attended. I also reached out to investors that were a close, but not perfect, fit, because I wanted to make sure that I cast a wide net, in case they were interested. In addition to the meetings at RESI, this led to around 50 pitches outside of RESI with investors I met at the conference. I met with at least 100 investors over the course of 10 months.

BA: As a first time CEO, how did you prepare for your meetings?

AA: I used all of the resources LSN and RESI made available, and I followed your directions. I used the templates you provided for my outgoing message on the partnering platform, I sent out 100+ meeting requests to the relevant investors, as you recommended. In all, the process was easy and straightforward.

BA: What did you include in your message that was of the most interest to investors?

AA: Having a good pitch deck was key. Also, discussing our path forward, including the strategy for raising our Series B helped. This allowed me to clarify that this was not our last capital raise, that there was an opportunity for follow-on investments, as well as mentioning the bigger value inflection point down the line.

BA: Did you present your pitch deck at the meeting, and did you bring any additional material with you?

AA: I sent the investors an email before the meetings with the pitch deck and executive summary attached. During the meeting, I showed the device and clinical cases using our products. At the end, I gave them a brochure with the information.

BA: How many meetings do you think you had before closing the round?

AA: There were quite a few. That was the benefit of RESI: that I had a lot of meetings in one day. Even if I received 15 noes that day, it was still productive because this allowed me to screen potential investors before spending money to travel and meet them all individually.

BA: What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to companies attending RESI to fundraise?

AA: I would tell them to believe in the RESI process and follow your advice on how to make the most of it. They should really try to fill in those 16 slots, but should not be disappointed if all of those meetings end up not being a fit. They should look at it as a positive: they still met and screened out 16 investors – who knows how long that could have taken outside of RESI if they had to try to meet with them one at a time.

I viewed this as a personal challenge: as a first time entrepreneur, I wanted to see if I could close this round myself. I followed your recommendations by the book, and it worked! Using RESI to fundraise is an easy and elegant process.

BA: Thank you for sharing your story. Good luck moving forward!

Imbed Biosciences LogoAbout Imbed Biosciences: Imbed Biosciences is a privately held biotech company registered with FDA as a medical device manufacturer with an ISO 13485 certified quality management system. The company has a portfolio of products in development based on its patented and FDA-cleared Microlyte® technology to combat local pain and infections in complex wounds such as burns, chronic ulcers, surgical wounds, epidermolysis bullosa, and colorectal surgeries. A portion of Imbed’s research funding comes from the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal, and Skin Diseases (NIAMS).

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