OncoSynergy Leveraging RESI to Help Fund Glioblastoma Trials

4 Jun

Anne-Marie Carbonell
President, Chief Medical Officer, CEO of OncoSynergy

Erich White
BD Manager of LSN

As part of Women In Bio’s continuing alliance with LSN and RESI, I spoke to one of their sponsored companies about their experiences at RESI. OncoSynergy is a finalist in the Digital RESI June Innovation Challenge. What follows is my interview with Anne-Marie Carbonell, President, Chief Medical Officer, CEO.

Erich White (EW): What is your tagline and elevator pitch to get the audience calibrated?

Anne-Marie Carbonell (AC): Tagline: A breakthrough approach to the treatment of cancer. Our lead therapeutic program, OS2966 was developed after decades of research relating to our target, CD29. Scientific advisor Rick Horowitz, PhD discovered CD29 while advisor Mina Bissell, PhD later demonstrated that CD29 plays a fundamental role in cross talk between tumor cells and the microenvironment. Co-Founder Shawn Carbonell, MD, PhD further demonstrated the critical role CD29 plays in metastasis, while Co-Founder Catherine Park, MD showed CD29 sensitizes cancer cells to radiation treatment. This body of work, continually validated by collaborators from world-class institutions, is the basis of our innovative approach. After orchestrating the successful FDA IND-approval, I am proud to lead the company’s novel therapeutic into Phase I clinical trials. Overall, our intent is to develop transformative multi-indication cancer drugs that change the standard of care and expedite these solutions to patients by leveraging biopharma/corporate partnerships and enhanced FDA programs.

EW: What funds have you raised, and what is your next fundraise?

AC: OncoSynergy is lucky to have the strong backing of our investors who are equally committed to our mission. Since 2011, we have raised approximately $25M including $1MM in NIH funding. (Developing a new class of therapy takes time!) We are currently raising a $10M round to fund our Phase 1 glioblastoma trial, grow our team and advance our acute leukemia program.

EW: How has LSN and RESI been helping to get you in front of investors? Please describe the coaching and what you have learned.

AC: This has been OncoSynergy’s first year participating in RESI conferences and I am definitely disappointed we didn’t participate before! The hands-on support of the LSN team led me to re-evaluate my outreach strategy as well as my pitch style. Based on this feedback, we developed a strategic vetting and outreach approach that, I am happy to say, has been very successful. I also realized the value in simplifying. Recording the 3-minute presentation for our RESI landing page was a huge help in that effort and has enabled me to modulate my presentation to the specific audience.

EW: Tell me how it has been going for you in terms of getting in front of investors

AC: We kicked off our fundraising campaign in March… enter COVID-19. That said, we have not been able to physically get in front of any investors. I am extremely grateful for video conferencing and that events like RESI decided to go digital. Because of this, we have had a steady stream of productive meetings. In fact, cutting out travel time has enabled me to take more meetings than usual.

EW: How big is your investor list and outreach? How did the fundraising dynamic change after RESI?

AC: Since March we have reached out to approximately 200 potential investors and the list continues to grow as we attend events like RESI. Not a day goes by that we are not following up, scheduling or initiating new outreach.

We built significant momentum around the April RESI event. Nothing like giving your pitch 20 times over 2 days to improve your presentation skills! Additionally, creating updated materials for our dedicated page was a great process. We revamped our executive summary, created a 1-pager and updated our pitch deck. When it was time to begin chasing and follow-up we were armed with great materials.

EW: How do you see the innovation Challenge and how are you approaching it?

AC: Having a dedicated page is also a great tool to help obtain meetings and prepare investors for meetings. If an investor has an idea of who we are and what we are about before our short 30-minute meeting, it dramatically increases the quality of the meeting.

EW: You also participated during the Digital RESI 2-Day Partnering Event last month. How many meetings were you able to secure?

AC: We held 20 meetings during the 2-day partnering event and also had a few others scheduled outside of the conference.

EW: How did you secure so many meetings? What did you do to get so many?

A: My team carefully vets each investor on the platform to ensure goals align and to discover what I call an “outreach angle.” Investors get bombarded with requests, so we need an angle to get them to pay attention! Whether it’s a synergy with a portfolio company, a geographic market of mutual interest or the delegate’s background, it helps to personalize. My team labels each investor P1 (P = priority), P2 or exclude. I send a well-crafted message to all P1 investors. Depending on meeting traffic I circle back to the P2 candidates. Then comes follow-up either via email, LinkedIn or the RESI platform. Overall, it’s a lot of work, but the process works to enable valuable strategic outreach.

EW: What helped you most to get those meetings?

AC: Carefully qualifying investors and persistent follow up. Everyone on our small team makes key contribution toward our business development efforts.

EW: What have you learned so far participating at RESI?

AC: RESI helped us refine our outreach process and materials as well as focus my pitch. The high volume of meetings is a great learning experience for any entrepreneur. I also learned how to get the most out of 30-minute meeting with an investor, including making sure I asked key questions at the beginning of the meeting to allow me to adapt my presentation to the audience.

EW: Any other comments?

AC: Fundraising is an extraordinary amount of work under normal circumstances. Although COVID-19 has brough about an additional layer of complexity and new challenges, I encourage all of my fellow entrepreneurs to stay positive! If your idea is great, the right investor is out there (and hopefully at RESI).

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