The simplest ideas often lead to the most elegant solutions.
For example, the body changes when infected with a disease — and those changes are measurable.
This simple truth is the very foundation of Glympse Bio, a biopharmaceutical startup that is revolutionizing disease diagnostics and monitoring.
The company is developing biomarker panels to measure changes in protein activity for a variety of diseases. By analyzing proteins in a simple blood draw, Glympse can identify a disease state and determine whether it is advancing or regressing.
Caroline Loew’s task as President and CEO of Glympse Bio is to ultimately get her company’s technology in the hands of doctors, where it can then make a difference in the lives of patients. But to do so, she has to partner with the right investors to fund her company’s initiatives and she has to work efficiently with regulators to get the technology approved.
An organic chemist by training, Caroline now works at the intersection of science, business, and clinic — a role that’s anything but simple.
“The science can be incredible, absolutely astonishing, and amazing,” Caroline says. “But if it never makes it to a patient, if it never makes it into a physician’s hand so the physician can work with a patient to better their condition, it’s all for nothing.”
In this episode of Medsider, Caroline discusses the importance of being proactive when dealing with regulators. She also shares four key things to consider as you engage with investors.
Caroline has served as the President and CEO of Glympse Bio since 2018. Prior to that, she held executive roles at Merck and Bristol Myers Squibb, where she oversaw R&D. Caroline earned her bachelor’s and doctoral degrees at Imperial College, London.
We just released the first volume of Medsider Mentors, a print-based book that summarizes the key learnings from the most popular Medsider interviews over the past 6 months.
It’s tough to listen or read every Medsider interview that comes out — even the best ones. But there are so many valuable lessons you can glean from the founders and CEOs that join our program. So, that’s why we decided to create Medsider Mentors. It’s a way for you to learn from the best thought leaders in our space in one central place.
If you’re interested in learning more, head over to Medsider Mentors. Premium members get free digital access — and a print version sent straight to their door.
If you’re not a premium member yet, you should definitely consider signing up. In addition to every volume of Medsider Mentors, you’ll get full access to the entire library of interviews dating back to 2010. This includes conversations with experts like Erica Rogers, CEO of Silk Road Medical, Dr. David Albert, founder of AliveCor, and so many others.
Learn more by visiting Medsider Mentors.
Key Learnings from Caroline’s Experiences
- Instead of regarding regulatory agencies as a threat, Caroline has found that being proactive in her dealings with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the smart play.
- The COVID-19 pandemic and corresponding market collapse had a major impact on investor behavior. Empathizing with potential backers helped Caroline lead a successful fundraising round in a historically challenging environment.
- Authenticity and integrity are critical to successful investor relations — particularly with those who finance your startup. Backers aren’t just funding a product, they’re also investing in the people behind the product.
See Regulators as Partners
Caroline describes the frequency of Glympse Bio’s make-or-break interactions with the FDA as “early-and-often.” It’s an approach she encourages others in the life sciences arena to take.
“A lot of people have this notion of trepidation when they think about engaging with the agency, particularly as a small company,” Caroline says. “But my experience has been mainly one of knocking on the door every day. They really want to collaborate. They want to help you, particularly with new technology, and they want to help you advance.”
Caroline found that through frequent dialogue and a strong grasp of the regulatory framework, she was able to figure out how to keep things moving forward. She likens it to riding a wave — you want to ride at the crest to avoid falling off.
But even with a solid understanding of the regulatory pathway and great dialogue with regulators, there’s no silver bullet to keep things progressing —that’s why Caroline stresses the importance of flexibility.
“There are things you just can’t control in the regulatory environment,” Caroline says. “Things that you plan might change because something happens with another company that causes the FDA to retrench. [It could be] the direction they were taking, or there’s a bit of rulemaking that gets driven because of the political environment. You always have to be flexible.”
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Up Your Investor Relations Strategy: Four Best Practices
Is there a worse time to raise capital than during the outset of a global pandemic
But that’s exactly the position in which Caroline found herself and Glympse Bio in 2020. COVID-19 forced Caroline to stop and reassess how Glympse handled investor relations.
“We were fundraising as the markets bottomed out at the [beginning] of the pandemic,” Caroline recalls. “There was some real uniqueness to the experience, but I think there were a few things that I took away that are universal.”
1. Understand Your Value
If you can’t quickly help a potential investor understand what your company does, how can you expect them to want to help you?
“You need to understand the science,” Caroline says. “You need to understand your value proposition and your story. And you need to be able to clearly and succinctly articulate all of it.”
Knowing your product inside and out so you’re able to speak to the value your company contributes to the field with confidence and clarity is absolutely essential.
2. Understand What Your Investors Value
Prior to 2020, Glympse was taking what Caroline characterized as a “generic” approach to investor relations.
But when the markets crashed, Caroline knew that Glympse needed to stop and reconsider how the global economy affected the mindset of those looking to fund medtech startups.
“What investors were experiencing and how they were thinking about investments was wildly different,” Caroline recalls. “We had to change how we thought about [ourselves], our engagement with them, and what they needed.”
Glympse was able to meet its fundraising goals for the round by changing its approach and designing a strategy that reflected the unique needs of each potential backer.
“You really need to focus on the things that are important to them,” she says. “I think that's critical. I mean, saying it now, it sounds almost stupid.”
Step back and look at your pitch through the lens of each specific investor and adjust accordingly.
3. Understand How You Want to Present Yourself
Authenticity matters, especially when it comes to dealing with those you hope will fund your vision.
“We believe in being extremely transparent,” Caroline says. “We're very authentic, we don't sugarcoat things, we say things as they are, and we don't hide anything. I think that transparency is very valuable.”
Investors are far more likely to trust those who are forthcoming with the challenges and hurdles their companies face. After all, if it’s all sunshine and roses, what aren’t they telling you?
Venture capitalists are often investing in the people behind an idea in addition to the product. So being your authentic self (even in a pitch) starts your relationship on the right foot.
4. Understand How to Engage
Similar to any other kind of relationship, communication is the key to success when dealing with your investors.
Be responsive. Share data. Answer questions right away.
It’s easy to be responsive to them when they’re sitting across the table from you. It’s also easy to slip into an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. Don’t fall into that trap.
The old adage, “communication is key” is cliché for a reason.
Big Sky Biomedical is a medtech incubator co-founded by Scott Nelson and a team of serial entrepreneurs and proven operators with a stellar track record of success.
One of their first companies, FastWave Medical, closed on an investment plus milestone-based acquisition agreement within 6 months of forming the entity. Supposedly, that breaks some type of record within the medical device space.
The incubator model is certainly not a new concept within medtech, but the Big Sky team is doing things a bit differently.
First, their entire team has deep domain expertise in the interventional arena and it's the only sandbox they play in. Second, through their partnership with Switchback Medical, they can often shave 6-12 months off a traditional R&D PDP. Third, their wheelhouse is going from zero to one and their team can leverage capital to kickstart projects quickly and efficiently.
If you're interested in learning more or potentially partnering with the Big Sky team, check out their site right here.