Lessons learned as an entrepreneur

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Rocky Ganske, CEO, Axela Inc., talks about the lessons he's learned as an entrepreneur in the life sciences industry.

Part of the MaRS Future of Medicine(tm) series, an informal moderated forum bringing together research professionals and clinicians interested in drug development.

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Lessons learned as an entrepreneur

  1. 1. Lessons Learned as an Entrepreneur
  2. 2. 2
  3. 3. Agenda   A little about Rocky and past experiences   Some facts about start-ups   Axela Today   Product Life cycle   Tools I have found useful over the years   Axela early days   How we transitioned   Lessons learned 3
  4. 4. Over 30 Years Diagnostics & Life Science Industry Rocky’s Personal Perspective 4
  5. 5. Rocky’s History • Technicon Labs • Becton Dickinson • Third Wave Technologies (TWTI) • Genomic Utilities Inc • Axela Inc 5
  6. 6.   60% Of Companies Fail, First 6 months   82% Fail by 10th Anniversary   90% New Products Fail   The average CEO life is 2.5 years   Statistically and for someone to be successful multiple times in succession is hard (if not impossible)   I Have not adjusted these numbers for the lack of capital in Canada today…..it is likely worse 6
  7. 7. Enabling Leader in Personalized Medicine Build Leadership in …For Tomorrow’s Research Tools & Clinical Research… Personalized Diagnostics Significantly improve Capitalize on game changing Leverage proprietary efficiency of post methods for interpreting technology advantages to discovery biomarker biomarkers (DNA, RNA and deliver novel diagnostics assay development proteins) in health research and validation 7
  8. 8. Proprietary & Complementary Proprietary High Margin Instrument Platforms Consumables Ziplex® System Content Leverage Across Platforms dotLab® System Menu, Content and Panels 8
  9. 9. From April 2003 To Today 9
  10. 10. > 150 Patents and applications Core Diffraction IP Consumable Design Disease Specific IP Incremental Diffraction IP Manufacturing Methods Signal Amplification Multiplexing Technology Others: Johns Hopkins, Proteome Sciences, Large Tech Company, VWR, CREA Brazil, Many others 10
  11. 11. Key events in the history of Axela •  Company founded 2001 by Cynthia Goh •  Seed funding from Primaxis and Royal Bay Capital •  2003 I was recruited from the states to run Axela •  Later stage funding support from VenGrowth •  2004 the first prototypes systems developed •  Late 2005 Major in-licensing deal with K-C •  2007 in-licensed multiplexing IP from Beckman Coulter •  2010 Amalgamated Axela and Xceed Molecular 11
  12. 12.   Use a consistent process to assess progress   Understand where and when you exit ahead of time   Have clear role definition   Be honest with yourself and others relative to expectations   Hire only the best…… and LISTEN!! 12
  13. 13. Competing Modalities Competing Applications Scientific Research Technical Development Commercialization Intensity of Effort EMK, Internal SBIR, Developmen NIH Research t University Contract -Research- Time Discovering Proving and Learning Committing •  Technological discontinuity •  Emergence of viable -Risk Reward not understood applications •  Selection of dominant design •  Intellectual property •  Creating industry structure •  Convergence of independent •  Market concepts •  Claiming intellectual property streams of know-how •  Licensing/Acquiring synergistic technologies -Bio-Chemistry -Engineering Competing •  Increasing rate of competitive entry -Software •  First mover advantage •  Triggers of shakeout Based on Model developed by Prof. William Hamilton 13
  14. 14. Emerging Technology Development TECHNICAL COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION RELATIVE IMPORTANCE SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH TIME SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY COMMERCIALIZATION PHASES OF TECHNICAL ADVANCE RESEARCH DEVELOPMENT PRODUCTION MARKETING TIME PROGRESSION OF ACTIVITIES IN THE INNOVATION PROCESS Based on Models developed by Prof. William Hamilton 14
  15. 15. Emerging Technology Development TECHNICAL COMMERCIAL Discovery DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION •  Technological discontinuity RELATIVE IMPORTANCE -Risk Reward not understood SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH •  Convergence of independent streams of know-how -Chemistry/Biochemistry -Engineering -Software TIME SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY COMMERCIALIZATION PHASES OF TECHNICAL ADVANCE 15
  16. 16. Emerging Technology Development Competing TECHNICAL COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION Proving and Modalities Learning RELATIVE IMPORTANCE Competing SCIENTIFIC Applications •  Emergence of RESEARCH viable applications •  Intellectual property •  Market concepts TIME SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY COMMERCIALIZATION PHASES OF TECHNICAL ADVANCE 16
  17. 17. Emerging Technology Development TECHNICAL COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION Committing •  Selection of dominant design •  Creating industry structure RELATIVE IMPORTANCE SCIENTIFIC •  Claiming intellectual property RESEARCH •  Licensing/Acquiring synergistic technologies •  High levels of $$$ commitment Competing •  Increasing rate of competitive entry TIME •  First mover advantage •  Triggers of shakeout SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY COMMERCIALIZATION PHASES OF TECHNICAL ADVANCE RESEARCH DEVELOPMENT PRODUCTION MARKETING TIME PROGRESSION OF ACTIVITIES IN THE INNOVATION PROCESS 17
  18. 18. Early Challenges •  The single largest challenge is CASH Dictates where you can go, how fast you can get there •  The world economy has made this harder •  Decide what you HAVE (not WANT): a technology, product, or company •  Align CASH with Exit •  Align management, investors and market opportunity •  Things can change, re-alignment is not easy 18
  19. 19. •  I should write a book called “Angel turned Devil” •  Third wave example •  Axela Example •  Take away: • Early capital has higher potential risk, higher potential gain but it has even less odds of paying out unless the business strategy is aligned with investment strategy 19
  20. 20. •  Founder/CEO •  Publish vs Profit •  Individual discovery vs corporate asset •  Deal with serial inventor/founder vs serial entrepreneur •  Expectation creation is important •  As the company’s domain expertise shifts; •  Does the hand off between inventor and company get easier or more complex? 20
  21. 21. Later •  Everyone has a shelf life and a moment of strength •  Understand it, plan for it, and make changes when needed •  This is very hard especially when it is yourself 21
  22. 22. How You Try to Change the Odds?   Understanding how important communication is   Failure is inevitable; understand it; scar tissue is important   Change is constant; embrace it   Always seek to know what you don’t know   The importance of passion alignment   Partner, Partner, Partner   What Ever you do: •  “Don’t’ Run Out of Money” 22
  23. 23. •  In the book the world is flat •  Small companies will act large •  Large companies will act small •  The two things that kill deals is time and greed 23
  24. 24. •  Cash is king!! •  Which is harder the first $20 Thousand or the last $20 Million? •  When they pass the cookies take some, no matter what it costs •  Balance the single dominant investor value •  Always be ready to learn •  Understand your own limits •  Strong and critical board is as important as good investors •  Good management wins over good technology •  Be honest with yourself, your fellow employees, and your investors 24
  25. 25. Start-Ups 25

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