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Increase Your Exposure at Digital RESI September

2 Jul

By Claire Jeong, Vice President of Investor Research, Asia BD, LSN

claire

We are excited to announce the launch of two opportunities to increase your company’s exposure at the Digital Redefining Early Stage Investments (RESI) Conference in September – The Innovation Challenge and Featured Company Pitch Sessions.

Showcase Your Technology at the Innovation Challenge

This marks our third time organizing the Innovation Challenge in a digital format. The Innovation Challenge is always a great opportunity to increase your exposure and showcase your technology. 30 finalists will be selected from a pool of over 100 applicants, and all companies will have their own dedicated page to upload their virtual poster, video, and other supplementary materials. RESI attendees will be able to vote for up to 5 companies that they find the most innovative.

If you are interested in increasing your visibility to 400+ investors, please apply! The deadline is Wednesday, August 12th.

Pitch Your Company to a Panel of Investors

The Featured Company Pitch Session is a great opportunity to gain exposure for your company and get valuable feedback from a panel of investors. For an added fee, companies get a dedicated page featuring their pitch, followed by a virtual Q&A session with a panel of investors and a live audience. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, so make sure to submit your application as soon as possible!

Business as (Un)usual During the Covid-19 Pandemic

2 Jul

Andy Merken
Partner at Burns & Levinson and Co-Chair of the Life Sciences Group

Gregory Mannix
Chief Conference Officer, VP International Business Development, LSN

After the major disruptions of the last few months, everyone has readjusted to a new normal. I recently spoke with Andy Merken, Partner at Burns & Levinson and Co-Chair of the Life Sciences Group, to learn his perspective of how things have changed, and how the industry has evolved.

GREG MANNIX (GM): These are certainly crazy times. How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected your work at Burns & Levinson?

ANDY MERKEN (AM): Crazy is an understatement. March was a time of uncertainty, with everyone in the business world – clients, their business partners, investors, and M&A  professionals – trying to get their heads around what was happening and how it would impact their businesses and the broader life sciences industry. From a few rumblings in late February/early March to almost a full-blown panic starting in mid-March, client work continued forward unabated but with a growing sense of uneasiness. The first few weeks of April were consumed with helping clients navigate all of the questions – and the almost-daily changing guidance – with respect to PPP Loans, particularly for venture-backed companies. A number of deals were put on hold in April and early May, but the good news is that most of them have now returned, though some with slightly less favorable deal terms, particularly for medical device deals. Deal terms for biotech, pharma, healthcare IT and healthcare services all seem to be holding steady. What we are finding now in early July is that workflow is almost back to normal – both day-to-day matters as well as patent filings, financings (both seed stage and venture stage) and M&A. There is a growing sense of optimism that the worst is over – not with respect to the pandemic itself but as to the long-term business impact that it will have on our clients.

GM: Do you think any of these new ways of communicating, like videoconference calls, are here to stay after the pandemic is over?

AM: Absolutely. I have been pleasantly surprised at how seamless the transition has been from the physical world to the virtual world. After a week or two of people saying, “Zoom? Why would I want people to see me working at my dining room table?”, everyone has jumped on the videoconference and remote working bandwagon in earnest. We are  finding that productivity has not been harmed, and in fact, has actually improved given the loss – in a good way – of commuting time for most people. That being said, there are still business advantages to being able to meet people in person (especially new contacts), to walk down the hallway to chat with a co-worker, and generally to collaborate. For these reasons, I believe that in-person workplaces will return in full force, but with  videoconference calls  remaining much more a part of our daily work lives moving forward.

GM: Burns & Levinson is a sponsor of RESI, and you have been to a number of on-site RESI conferences across the country. Since we had to make the pivot to a digital RESI, what was your impression of the new format? Was it a productive way to interact with people?

AM: The new format exceeded my expectations. The videoconference technology was seamless. Just about everyone that I spoke to, as part of RESI, had the same comments. And, for those doing the 1-to-1 partnering meetings, they benefited from the conference being held for 3 days instead of 1, the ability to meet people from other parts of the country and all over the world who otherwise would not have been able to travel in, and the ability to meet people across multiple time zones. Those that I spoke with were thrilled with the scheduling flexibility and the ability to meet more people than at an in-person event. Nevertheless, people would still like the opportunity to meet live, especially when they are already traveling in for JPM, BIO, Boston Biotech Week and other conferences that RESI is scheduled around. It may be that a hybrid approach is what ultimately makes the most sense – in-person, but with a digital component, as well.

GM: Burns & Levinson will be a Gold Sponsor at both Digital RESI and the new 4D Meets AI conference coming up in September. Is the firm planning any specific educational content for the early-stage companies who are participating?

AM: Yes. We are really excited about being involved with both conferences. We are still in the early planning stages for panels and presentations, but areas that we hope to be able to cover for early-stage companies include overviews of, and issues relating to, seed stage and venture capital financings, patent prosecution, in-licensing and out-licensing,and the FDA process and regulatory scheme.

GM: We all miss the in-person seminars and networking events of the past, and it is hard to guess when things like that will resume. Are you planning any web-based informative sessions or webinars over the next few months to partially fill that gap?

AM: We certainly are. Just last week we hosted a virtual panel entitled “Life Sciences M&A and VC Financing Update: Dealmaking During the Pandemic”. Panelists were Randy Scott of HealthQuest Capital, Tom Miller of GreyBird Ventures, and Ben Conway of Consilium Partners – 2 Venture Capital investors and 1 Investment Banker. Tom and Randy, by the way, are active participants in RESI. We had over 140 attendees register for what was a very informative panel discussion and Q&A, followed by breakout room networking, about the current state of life sciences VC financing and M&A, including changes to valuations, deal terms and timelines caused by COVID-19, as well as predictions for the short- and long-term future. This event took the place of a summer in-person event that we typically run. We have gotten great feedback from attendees and are planning to offer quarterly panels. We are considering a “CEO Forum” for the fall, where life science CEOs can discuss their companies and what they are seeing in the industry. This idea came from talking with one of the attendees, so we are reaching out to our network to source ideas for additional panels – please contact me with ideas!

Digital RESI June Recap: Virtual Medical Device Investors

25 Jun

By Joey Wong, Investor Research Analyst, LSN

LSN’s last virtual conference, Digital RESI June, featured a number of investor panels educating entrepreneurs on how investors look at opportunities in their sectors and the best approach to engage investors in discussions.

The Medical Device Investor Panel brought together 5 investors from North America and Europe with extensive experience in the Medtech industry, sharing their perspectives on working with early-stage companies as an investor or strategic partner. The panelists shared their thoughts on various topics, including their deal sourcing process and the do’s and don’ts for early-stage companies. In the end, the panelists shared their thoughts on the shifting of investment strategy and focus areas in light of the Covid pandemic.

The panel featured the following panelists:

  • Geoff Dacosta, Director, Business Development & Licensing, Medtronic (Moderator)
  • Diana Saraceni, Founder, Managing Director, Panakes Partners
  • Neil Swami, Life Sciences Advisor and Investor
  • Bryan Grulke, Partner, Volcano Capital
  • Sam Ifergan, President & CEO, iGan Partners

Here are some highlights of their discussion. To watch the full session, click here.

The panelists are in consensus that it is vital to identify the right investors at an early stage, specifically in both areas of expertise and the types of investors. For early-stage companies that might not have the clearest business plan or exit strategy, investors who have invested in the same subsector previously or have strong expertise in the space would most likely see your company’s potential. Importantly, in the Medtech space, a lot of interest comes from non-institutional investors. Early-stage companies may consider finding additional sources of capital from high-net-worth individuals or family offices to de-risk their companies and to prepare for high-quality institutional investors.

The panelists also talked about the importance of researching the person that you are pitching to and tailor the pitch for that person. While it is good to have a well-prepared pitch that covers all aspects of the company, companies should also consider that investors will have different preconceived ideas, depending on their background, and it is good to quickly adjust your pitch accordingly to the investor’s perception and expertise. Additionally, the panelists all agreed that a hard sell at the first meeting can be a turn-off and that companies should think of conferences like RESI as a way to start building a relationship instead of a one-shot opportunity. The goal is to get investors to invest their time to learn more about the opportunity after the conference, not to close a deal on the spot. Many panelists agreed that they oftentimes watch and interact with companies for as long as 6 months before they get fully engaged. “Play the long game,” one of the panelists said.

Regarding the current investment landscape under the effect of the Covid pandemic, most of the panelists think this is going to be a short-term hit but long-term benefit for the medical device sectors. The primary focus of investors right now is to support and bridge their current portfolio companies through these times. Companies that are currently fundraising should expect lower responsiveness from investors and a longer period of time to raise capital. Some panelists are seeing renegotiations and aggressive deal terms from VCs. However, a few panelists mentioned that they are closely monitoring any emerging opportunities related to the Covid pandemic and admitted that the pandemic has shone a different light in diagnostics and infectious disease areas.

The panel ended on an optimistic note – all panelists believe that the negative impact of the Covid pandemic on the medical device sector is temporary. They agreed that the pandemic has highlighted the needs for non-biotech companies and they expect to see an increase of deal activity and capital investments in the medical device sectors in the medium to long term.

Origami Therapeutics Leverages RESI Innovation Challenge to Meet Investors

25 Jun

Beth J. Hoffman, Ph.D.
Founder, President & CEO of Origami Therapeutics

Erich White
BD Manager of LSN

We are always happy to share success stories from companies that have attended RESI. As a finalist in the RESI Innovation Challenge, Origami Therapeutics used that to their advantage in their investor outreach. I spoke with Beth J. Hoffman Ph.D., Founder, President & CEO of Origami to see if she could share her insights with me.

Erich White (EW): Congratulations on a successful RESI event! What is your tagline and elevator pitch, to get the audience calibrated?

Beth J. Hoffman (BH): Tagline: “Discovering drugs that reshape proteins to restore health”

Elevator Pitch: Origami Therapeutics is taking a precision medicine approach to discover disease-modifying treatments for neurodegeneration caused by toxic protein misfolding. Origami plans to generate a pipeline of small molecule therapeutics that prevent or delay the onset and the progression of neurodegenerative diseases by targeting the underlying genetic cause of disease. Leveraging the founder’s experience in discovering transformational therapies for Cystic Fibrosis that modulate CFTR conformation, the company’s focus is to treat neurodegeneration by directly modulating pathogenic proteins. Our platform enables discovery of both protein degraders and conformation correctors, allowing us to match the best drug to treat each disease using patient-derived disease models. Currently, we are selecting the optimal compound to advance into preclinical testing for Huntington’s disease and initiating programs for additional indications.

EW: Tell me about your technology. Where it came from and current status?

BH: Our technology relies on the demonstrated ability of small molecules to influence how a much larger protein functions. Proteins are the molecular machines in your cells. They are made as a linear string and must fold into the proper shape in order to function properly. If there is a failure to fold properly, disease can result. In short, we use small molecules that directly interact with mutated disease-causing proteins to either repair their folding (conformation correctors) or to further disrupt their folding (protein degraders) to shunt them into degradation pathways. In either case, the toxic proteins are reduced and cellular function can return to a normal healthy state. At Origami, we started with a proprietary high-throughput screen to identify protein conformation modulators for Huntington’s disease. Currently, we have several potential lead molecules from which we are selecting a lead to optimize and advance into preclinical testing for Huntington’s disease.

EW: What is your funding history, and what are your upcoming goals?

BH: Origami has been self-funded thus far. We are currently seeking Seed funding and non-dilutive grant funding.

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

BH: First, I have to credit Women in Bio and their efforts to get us engaged with the WIB Pitch Competition and the Innovation Challenge.  I would not have been likely to become engaged with RESI without the WIB engagement and pricing discounts.

The most important aspect of the RESI coaching has been to adopt my pitch materials to the “RESI approach”.  The process, itself, enabled me to view my pitch differently, adding important details such as a “Risks & Mitigations” slide. Adapting my materials to the RESI Executive Summary and Tear Sheet formats enabled me to focus on slightly different aspects of Origami, making the totality of our materials much richer and brought out more storytelling in the written materials – information I would typically include in a verbally delivered pitch.

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

BH: I’ve been very fortunate to be part of JLABS @ San Diego and the San Diego/ SoCal ecosystem (i.e. Biocom, San Diego Entrepreneur Exchange, WIB). This has afforded me opportunities to get in front of investors at fairly regular intervals through investor hub meetings (JLABS), pitch competitions and partnering days. We’ve been quite successful in being selected for 1:1 meetings and platform pitches. These are roughly monthly or bimonthly and a combination of VC, strategic and Angel groups.

EW: What is your frequency of outreach and how big is your investor list?  Did the fundraising dynamic change after RESI how?

BH: I’ve participated in the April RESI and the June RESI, both digital meetings.  I’ve gotten in front of many more investors and different types of investors. By selecting investors by funding round and disease area interest, I was able to meet a greater percent of investors interested in what Origami is doing.  I joined April RESI with very little lead time yet still managed to have 13 meetings.  At the June RESI, I had 22 meetings plus 3 other interactions.  Perhaps, in part, as a result of being selected as an Innovation Challenge finalist, I received meeting requests from 8 investors that I had not pursued. Six of these 8 were new interactions. I’ve had several meetings before and after the official June RESI dates and continue to have follow up meetings.

EW: How do you see the innovation Challenge and how did you approach it?

BH: I saw the Innovation Challenge as an opportunity to draw attention to what Origami is doing and to provide our information in multiple formats. I believe that these multiple formats enable our message to be received by the broadest number of people. As a follow-up to my initial meeting request, I send the link to our IC page. Doing the voice over for the poster was critical in refining my meeting pitch.

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

BH: I had 13 meetings out of a total of 26 requested.

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

BH: Our entry into the April RESI was quite last minute, so there wasn’t time for follow-up messages. I’d say we did the bare minimum in this case. For June, I used the announcement of the Innovation Challenge finalists to follow-up with those who had not responded to meeting requests.

EW: What helped you most to get those meetings?

BH: I would have to imagine that the novelty of our approach/ technology and the disease area (neurodegeneration) probably piqued interest. Being named as an IC finalist definitely brought attention to Origami.

EW: How did those meetings go? Any follow-up yet?

BH: I’ve already had 2 follow-up meetings, 5 requests for additional information and 1 CDA.  There are still 2 more initial meetings upcoming in the next 2 weeks.

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

BH: The large number of meetings in a small amount of time definitely honed my pitch and sharpened how I approached and handled each meeting. I think the virtual nature helped minimize the running around and let everyone be a bit more relaxed and attentive.

In addition, it’s critical to have a team member with you to take notes, observe people’s reactions and add comments in case I forget something. It also helped in debriefing after the meetings. In a virtual meeting when the audience is not in front of you, it’s very hard to pitch and notice facial expressions, body language, attentiveness, etc. This is especially true if you are also negotiating slide sharing.

Women In Bio CEOs Live Pitch Session from Digital RESI June

18 Jun

By Erich White, Business Development Manager, West Coast, LSN

Last Wednesday, June 10th, Women In Bio (WIB) sponsored a live pitch session during Digital RESI June that featured five companies led by women founders, followed by Q&A by a panel of five global investors. These companies had a chance to showcase their technology to a live audience, and to demonstrate their passion and commitment to their companies.

Watch a recording of the live session here

 

As part of their mission to support women in the life sciences, WIB sponsored this pitch session, to expose these women founders to as many global investors as possible. RESI served as a perfect partner, utilizing RESI’s global investor network that regularly participate in our events.

As an organizer of the WIB delegation, Sibylle Hauser, Chair WIB-Entrepreneur Center, commented, “RESI is a great conference and platform to gain women entrepreneurs exposure and experience. I really like the value of the feedback. A lot of these women entrepreneurs don’t get feedback on their approach or pitch from an investor’s point of view. So, the Digital RESI June pitch session is helping them hone in more and target their pitch to investors.”

Lisa Iadicicco, Executive Director of WIB added, “we wanted to create an event that would speak to a national audience and RESI and LSN offered a platform for us to do just that.”

During Digital RESI June last week, WIB’s sponsored pitch session featured:

  1. Andrea Wang, Co-founder & CEO of AHEAD Medicine
  2. Meesha Dogan, Co-founder & CEO of Cardio Diagnostic Inc.
  3. Eydis Lima, Founder & CEO of Dermadiagnostics
  4. Caitlin Cameron, Chair & CEO of OtoNexus Medical Technologies, Inc.
  5. Helena Cowley, CEO of Oxidien Pharmaceuticals

Digital RESI June Leading the Way in Digital Partnering – RESI Video Partnering Actually Works!

18 Jun

By Karen Deyo, Senior Investor Research Analyst, LSN

LSN continues to hold all-virtual RESI events, and each Digital RESI event surpasses the one before. At last week’s Digital RESI June Conference, we saw a record number of meetings taking place, with 2000+ meetings scheduled over three days across the globe. RESI logged over 800 hours of video conversations, as RESI attendees fit months of continuous meetings into a raucous three days of interactive dialogue. Digital RESI continues to provide a venue, albeit virtual, for investors and companies to connect, meet, maintain or transact business relationships. As with all RESI conferences, the 1:1 ratio of companies to investors promotes a lot of interaction, and, as the graph below shows, almost 80% of the meetings that took place were between companies and investors who were a fit for them. RESI continues to have a global reach, with people from all over the world connecting and participating in meetings, as demonstrated by the images below, depicting the partnering website traffic at different times.

Investors Are Doing Business As Usual

As many investors stressed in the panels recorded for RESI, they are still open for business, and RESI will continue to hold digital events to facilitate advancing relationships. Make sure to register for our upcoming 2-Day Dedicated Partnering Event, taking place July 27-28th, and our next Digital RESI, taking place Sept. 14-16th!

June 9th, 2020, at 3:00 a.m. Est

June 9th, 2020, at 9:00 a.m. Est

Digital RESI Featured “Live Panels”—It Worked!

11 Jun

By Karen Deyo, Senior Investor Research Analyst, LSN

In addition to the valuable prerecorded content available on the Digital RESI June Live Agenda (Click here will be available one month), this week’s conference featured live sessions.  The live sessions generated some buzz – including the Early Stage Therapeutics panel, with five investors discussing their investment mandates and how their own investment process works. The compelling dialog zeroed in on their current radar screen, what they look for, what’s hot and what’s not, as well as how the landscape has changed in the last few months. Here are a few highlights of their discussion.

Moderated by Brent Ahrens, General Partner of Canaan Partners, the panelists were:

  • Anjan Aralihalli, Venture Partner of CTI Life Sciences Fund
  • Shaan Gandhi, Principal of Northpond Ventures
  • Peter Neubeck, Partner, Head of Germany of Kurma Partners
  • Shobha Parthasarathi, VP, External Innovation & New Ventures of Xontogeny

The investor panelists all mentioned that while oncology is a hot area, it is also an oversaturated indication. Nevertheless, all panelists admitted that they are still interested in oncology companies, but may be tailoring their preferences away from certain types of treatment, including avoiding immuno-oncology therapies that are not completely novel, and combo therapies. In addition, the panel stressed the importance of data at the early stages of therapeutic development, as this is a startup’s primary way to showcase their value.

While agreeing that the landscape has changed in recent months, all of the panelists agreed that investors are still open for business. However, they cautioned that the investment pool has shrunk, as investors save more to help increase the runway of their portfolio companies. Many of the investors have noticed a decrease in valuations as well, in addition to a large number of companies that have quickly pivoted into the Covid space.

As a final piece of advice, the investors urged companies to do their research before reaching out to an investor, and to be thoughtful and detailed in their outreach message. While companies should not write messages that are extremely long and detailed, as the panelists mentioned the sheer volume of messages they receive at conferences such as RESI, it should be more than ‘check out my cool company.’ Also important is the need to keep track of previous communication – if you met with an investor previously, make sure to reference that! These small details are important to avoid leaving a lasting negative impression.

Click here to watch the full panel!

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