By Mordechai Applebaum
The Pitch as a Factor in Start-up Success
After having a good idea, the main requirement for any startup company is raising funding to make the idea real. Many factors will determine the success of the funding requests, but a critical step in the process is delivering a good presentation – or a pitch. The presentation is the face of the company in this instance. The company’s first evaluation – the real first impression – will be through the presentation. Hence, the importance of polishing the presentation – the PowerPoint and the delivery – cannot be understated. It is like considering what to wear before an important meeting.
Understanding this need, JLM-BioCity hosts a series of Pitch Events, in which selected startups of a specific sector are coupled to an experienced mentor to work on their pitches. Ultimately, the polishing culminates in a pitch evening where the companies pitch in front of potential investors – venture capital firms, multinational companies, incubators and accelerators.
JLM-BioCity’s Pharma Pitch Event
On April 20th, 2017 at Azrielli College of Engineering in Jerusalem, JLM-BioCity held the Pharma Pitch Event. The panel was composed of: Dr. Rom Eliaz of Merck Ventures Fund, Dr. Inbal Landsberg of Dexcel Ltd., Dr. Hadar Ron of Israel HelathCare Ventures Ltd., Dr. David Sidransky Isra
At the event, five chosen companies presented. Immunovative Therapies, Ltd presented two vaccines that specifically attack cancer cells by disrupting their immune-evasive “force field”. Phase II clinical trials are being conducted for colorectal cancers and head and neck cancers. TrioxBio Inc. is developing a nitric oxide synthase inhibitor, which has completed a Phase II clinical trialin Moldova on intra dialytic hypotension patients. ViruCure Therapeutics has developed Newcastle Disease Virus to specifically attack cancer cells, with enhanced safety, while also activating the immune system. Thus far it has been tested in a Phase I/II clinical trial against glioblastoma multiforme, a rare but deadly cancer. Concenter BioPharma has developed small non-steroidal molecules that have a tripetite action – to reduce chronic inflammation, reduce iron overload and counter bacterial infections. TrioxNano Ltd. developed a nanotechnology platform for more efficient and targeted delivery of drugs. Currently it is being tested on triple-negative breast cancer.
Tips from the Pros for a Successful Pitch
The panelists were impressed with the presentations but emphasized the importance of some crucial points:
- Know your audience. Pitching to a VC fund requires presenting the science to a convincing degree. If the mechanism of action is known, all the better, but it is not a necessity. When pitching to an angel, the scientific aspects can be simplified, while highlighting the lucrative market possibility.
- Introduce your company at the outset. Tell the listeners what type of company you are (preclinical, clinical, 505(b)(2) etc.), what product you are developing (small molecule, biologics, delivery system etc.), and what is the market need.
- Focused scientific results. Give in-vitro, then in vivo, then in clinical in a short succinct fashion. If you show a graph or a figure, make sure to describe it. It does not “speak for itself” for a person that has just laid eyes on it.
- Where is the company heading. If you do get funded, tell them what you plan to do with the money. You can also describe how much you have raised so far and what you have done with that amount.
- Do not ignore gaps or obstacles. Every project has its challenges. If you do not address them, it might seem as if you are hiding them or, worse, not aware of them. Discuss the competitive landscape.
“This was an extremely valuable exercise for young companies to practice their presentations and to know their audience,” summarized Dr. David Sidransky.
Indeed, both the presenters and audience received first-hand advice from leading decision-makers in order to better one’s chances to receive funds from a VC firm or a multinational company.
“Jerusalem has many interesting pharma start-ups and JLM-BioCity’s goal is to provide them with the opportunity to receive exposure, present themselves and learn from leading experts such as the distinguished funds we met today,” says Dr. Yaron Suissa, CEO of JLM-BioCity. “I want to thank the JLM-BioCity team, our partners and sponsors in pursuing our mission of making Jerusalem a global Bio-hub”.
Come be a part of the excitement and the action. Join us in future events.