IndieBio: Accelerating Entrepreneurship in Life Sciences
We spoke with Alex Kopelyan, IndieBio’s Program Manager who gave us insight into IndieBio’s mission, what the accelerator provides for startups accepted into its program and also shared stories about some of the fascinating startups that are disrupting a number of different industries in life sciences.
As the world’s largest biotech accelerator, IndieBio’s goal is to turn scientists into entrepreneurs. Of the 300+ companies that apply to be part of each batch, only 15 are accepted. Through it’s venture arm, SOS Ventures (SOSV), IndieBio takes a 14 % equity stake, in exchange for 250K in funding, mentorship with Silicon Valley insiders, and a hands-on process meant to give these burgeoning entrepreneurs a new tool set, so that they can translate science and research into products that customers want. The program lasts 4 months and culminates with a demo day, which for this latest batch of startups is scheduled for Sept 14, 2017.
During the 4 month program, IndieBio is constantly pushing founders to talk to customers, get customer feedback, and encouraging them to learn who is making purchase decisions in the markets they plan to enter. It is a customer centric approach that encourages founders to get out into market and learn true customer pain points to help shape and formulate their go to market strategies.
We asked Alex what some of the standouts were…
The future of food is pretty exciting to ponder, one company he discussed from IndieBio’s first batch was Clara Foods, a cellular agriculture company that makes egg whites with out the chicken by identifying the essential proteins that make up the egg white, it is possible to create an egg white and great also for vegans since no animals were involved in making. Another cellular agriculture company, Memphis Meats is actually making chicken, pork and duck with out harming any animals by taking healthy animal stem cells and growing pure animal protein at scale. Another company, Ava Winery is making wine without grapes by breaking down the structure of any wine at the molecular level and making digital copies.
While a large percentage of IndieBio’s companies have gone on to raise follow-on funding or even generate revenue of their own, IndieBio wants to not only ensure that it can accelerate success for its batch companies but also accelerate failure because why spend years working on an idea that doesn’t have traction or market potential.
IndieBio built on bringing a network to these entrepreneurs, a network which includes mentors, investors and corporate partners and which has founders
pitching from Day 1 to the Silicon Valley ecosystem.
One particular area of focus (and need) is communications, which can often be a challenge for PHd’s and scientists used to speaking to other scientists. They have to adjust from telling their story in terms of complex scientific terms and make it digestible for other audiences that may not understand the complexities involved in their particular scientific breakthroughs.
The IndieBio team itself is quite impressive, founded by Arvind Gupta, who is a partner at SOSV, and former design director at IDEO. He helps the founders in their interactions with VCs and designing their business models.
Ryan Bethencourt, Cofounder has a background in pharmaceutical sales and is considered Hustler in Chief, he helps the founders talk to customers and develop their sales strategies. He is an accomplished scientist and was formally involved with XPRIZE, world known for it's global competition challenges aimed at solving the world's biggest issues. Ron Shigeta, PHD is IndieBio's Chief Scientific Officer and helps startups navigate their scientific plans.
With 67 companies funded to date, in a mix of cellular agriculture, biotech, bio engineering, pharmaceutical and medical hardware, IndieBio is poised to lead the cutting edge of new scientific developments and helping scientist become entrepreneurs, have a listen!