IndieBio's Arvind Gupta on Bucking Conventional Thinking

As everyone who follows this show knows, we are HUGE fans of IndieBio and the incredible companies that are part of their cohorts, companies that are changing the world as we know it for the better. In this episode we get to sit down with Arvind Gupta, founder of IndieBio to learn more about his own founding story and what led him to create a new type of accelerator that has flipped the model for conventional funding, entrepreneurship and development of bio tech innovation.

Perhaps what is most striking about Arvind’s background is its multidisciplinary aspect. Arvind started his career as a scientist studying genetic engineering at UC Santa Barbara, it was there he realized that manipulating the code of life to solve larger problems biologically was scientifically possible, but ultimately the slowness of the science field turned him in other directions. His journey took him from the stock exchange to rock climbing and sleeping in dirt, to eventually an industrial design role with IDEO that had responsible for the design of the Samsung Galaxy Curve.

However, it wasn’t until the launch of his fitness app with his wife that his watershed moment occurred. The app became popular and was receiving a great reviews and feedback as to how it was changing people’s lives for the better. It was this new understanding of how a product experience could impact people positively that led him down the VC path.

With his scientific background and industry understanding, he realized that venture capital for the biotech field had not changed much since he was first in the field. The major players, such as big pharma would gobble up the early stage companies and replace the founders, he thought the time had come for the model to be disrupted and follow more of the Silicon Valley approach of founder first companies leading to better outcomes, and premised that the biotech space was ready, ideas had been codified, out-servicing was fast and he saw that the industry could operate fast enough to run as an IT company.

With that as a thesis, the concept that would eventually become Indiebio was born. Starting with a lab that could be shared amongst companies, he saw he could convert the capital expense into operating expense and create a platform that would de-risk ideas so companies could focus on getting business traction as quickly as possible. He teamed up with Sean O’Sullivan of SOSV and built his founding team which included Ryan Bethencourt and Ron Shigeta.

Since inception Indiebio is now on its 6th cohort having funded 81 companies of which 68 graduated, 70% have raised subsequent funding and the cumulative value of the IndieBio companies are over 600 million. The model continues to be iterated on and IndieBio itself is developing some exciting new technology to leverage its knowledge in the space.

Of the sectors that have been standouts, Arvind points to therapeutics and cellular agriculture, companies such as Quantumcyte, Pherenym, Bio Aestheics, JointechLabs, BeeFlow, Memphis Meats, Clara Foods, Prellis Biologics and Finless Foods many of which we’ve had the pleasure of interviewing on Popping the Bubbl.

One thing is clear, Arvind’s original thesis of applying biology to resolving the world’s biggest challenges, bucking of conventional thinking that scientists couldn’t become entrepreneurs and application of fail fast methodologies has led to some incredible successes and breakthroughs that will be impacting us all soon!

There are so many fascinating parts to Arvind’s story, please take a listen for yourself!


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