Written by Glen Martin, Senior Vice President, Kineticos
You can learn so much from attending the annual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. New companies emerge, new technologies emerge, many new partnerships are born, and of course, there are learning moments from the pint or two that are consumed with old friends and colleagues.
As the week progressed at my most recent JPM conference, a glaring learning/opportunity began to crystalize. In my meetings with many mid-large sized companies, the science and the business stories seemed to be aligned quite well, for most. However, with many small and emerging companies, there was a noticeable omission, and that was the marketing/business approach to their scientific story.
Undoubtedly, I met some of the most passionate scientists/entrepreneurs at JPM this year. Their science and potential impact on various diseases was awe-inspiring to learn about, but there was also a sense of “the science will sell itself”. I am sure that I could find examples of where this has occurred, but it is more likely that a small/emerging biopharma company will get recognized sooner, and be taken more seriously, based on the business approach and marketing strategy of their science.
Investors and potential partners want to know who is running and guiding the company, both from a board of directors, and a scientific advisory board, what their backgrounds are, and what types of success have they demonstrated in the past. They want to understand the scientific platform, what its differentiators are, and what gaps in current or projected treatment pathways it fills. What are the potential indications and projected revenues based on the market potential? And, of course, what is the ‘ask’? Companies heading into partnering conferences like JPM without a clear ‘ask’ in mind along with a sound justification (scientific and commercial) of the ‘ask’ will likely come out wondering why they were unable to achieve their goals of the conference.
In many of my meetings with the smaller companies, there was not a defined ‘ask’, and that can lead to much confusion and uncertainty. In my time consulting, and working with smaller companies, I have witnessed the positive impact that a well-composed business story can have. Likewise, I have also noticed the downside of a lack of focus on the commercial narrative. I also realize and respect that many of these companies have resource constraints. However, companies will be hard pressed to get the funding and/or partners they desire without focus on the commercial/business story. The foundation is always the science, but if the person sitting across from you does not understand what you are selling, then chances are it won’t be sold.
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Glen Martin, Senior Vice President of Kineticos’ Biopharmaceutical Practice, brings over 20 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry to the team. His team is focused on helping commercial stage companies realize their commercial potential at the corporate, portfolio and product levels. Glen’s therapeutic expertise lies within Oncology, Hematology and Urology while his functional expertise includes Medical Affairs, Commercial Launch and KOL Management.