AVX April 2020 Update

Ahmet-Hamdi Cavusoglu

April 3, 2020

I hope this email finds you healthy, hearty, and at home. One month later, as COVID-19 grew into a global public health crisis, I have been very lucky to discover the warmer, caring, and driven side of many members of the AVX community. Thank you all for your hard work, be it supporting inventors, crafting strategies to address this crisis, or simply checking in and supporting family, friends, and familiars!

In this newsletter, I will tell you about your teams we are currently hosting on our platform,  highlight a few (digital) events from around the network, and suggest some think pieces and podcasts to consume.

With our updated interface, you can see all ventures here: AVX Feed

Conversation Statistics: We are up to 5639 total connections and conversations on the AVX network - 375 more over the last month. We are currently tracking 9 potential match negotiations and another 71 with multi-month long discussions heading toward possible matches.


UCSF Startup 101: Pitch Night (Apr 9): Join us online for the finale of UCSF’s core entrepreneurship class, Startup 101. The class teaches scientists and clinicians how to create a commercial venture from their ideas, Silicon Valley style.

T3PO (Apr 10): Tech Transfer + Telecommuting: Productivity and Operations (I feel like Star Wars themes on Zoom could show up!). In this panel, we will discuss with current leaders of Tech Transfer offices as well as veterans of our industry how they cope with the COVID 19 crises, what lessons can be learned from the past and how should we plan for recovery.

Meet With Golden Seeds (Apr 16): Want to meet with Golden Seeds? Here’s how courtesy of JPOD @ Philadelphia! On April 16, Mindy Posoff and Anne Shehab of Golden Seeds will share insights on their investment strategy, core areas of interest and best practices when engaging with a strategic investor.

Acquisition as Growth Strategy in Diagnostics (Apr 16): Many founders hope to grow their startup to the point that it is acquired by a larger company. But startups can grow by acquiring other companies and technologies themselves. How does acquisition give you a stronger position in the market? Join us on Thursday, April 16 to learn from Sean George, CEO of Invitae, a genetic information company which has made 10 acquisitions since 2017.

XTC 2020 Global Finals Deadline (Apr 30): XTC is looking for entrepreneurs who are building high-growth startups that also address global challenges. XTC connects innovators with a network of investors, corporations, and mentors to help them raise capital, launch corporate collaborations, and scale their world-changing startups through engagement with leaders of global corporations, VCs, and corporate VCs. Startups of any stage in healthcare; education; fintech; transportation and smart cities; cleantech, energy and environmental solutions; agtech, food and water; and enabling technologies should apply (see button just below).

Mammoth Biosciences: A Different Approach to CRISPR (May 21): Mammoth Biosciences, a CRISPR startup spun out of UC Berkeley, took a unique approach, initially focusing only on diagnostics, and employing the DNA and RNA-cutting proteins Cas12 and Cas13 instead of the better-known Cas9. With a recent $45 million Series B round, Mammoth is doubling down on diagnostics while also expanding into gene editing and therapeutics with additional novel enzymes they have developed like the nano-sized Cas14.

BIO Digital (June 8-12): For 2020, the BIO International Convention will transition to a new, virtual event format, BIO Digital. This virtual gathering of the global biotech industry provides access to key partners via BIO One-on-One Partnering, educational resources to help drive your business, and the insights you need to continue critical research and development. We may not be able to gather in person, but nothing stops innovation.

Equalize 2020 (June 24-25): Equalize 2020 is a pitch competition and symposium designed to take national action around the disparity of women academic inventors forming university startups - hosted by Washington University and Osage University Partners. You do not want to miss out!

Some Insights & Podcasts

While some of us may find a lot more time on our schedule (I'm a big fan of remote work and killing the commute), you might be interested in diving into a few insights and podcasts from around the network.

AUTM 'VCs Talk Back' (Part 1 and Part 2): Orin Herskowitz had a chance to interview Cami Samuels at Venrock, Bill Harrington at OUP, Deb Palistrant at 4:59 (5AM Ventures), and Josh Resnick at RA Capital. Originally scheduled as part of the AUTM March 2020 conference in San Diego, this rescheduled interview touches on some topics of keen interest in these difficult times, including company creation, investment in the COVID-19 climate, the geography for investments, and the 'valley of death' for life science start-ups from universities.

Inventing the Future: Josh Wolfe, the co-founder of Lux Capital, discusses how to unearth the unexplored ideas that will reshape our future with Shane Parrish. They also discuss parenting, decision making, and which generation has the best rap. It's a wide ranging conversation and very enjoyable. And if you enjoy this style, but with a bit more COVID-19, you can check out Shane's interview with Balaji Srinivasan.

What Could the Venture Market Look Like in the Coronavirus Era: Tomasz Tunguz, a VC at Redpoint, dives into the data to see how the investment environment might change by seeing how VCs reacted to the crash of 2008. The short of it? The earlier the stage the company, the less it was impacted. Go ahead to read more!

Invest in the Smartest Scientists in a New Field: Key excerpt "You won’t become a great tech investor by reading about technology on TechCrunch or Bloomberg News. You have to go to the source. You shouldn’t hesitate to read scientific papers and journals. You should brush up on your mathematics. You should genuinely enjoy the act of learning science and technology. After all, technology is applied science."

Why Startups Need To Get The Founding Team Right: A team at INSEAD recently studied entrepreneurial team formation and there are some great bits of information inside. If you get this newsletter, this is probably old hat to you by now that the team is important - esp. since a great working paper called How Do Venture Capitalists Make Decisions? was released back in Sept 2016. But how that team assigns roles and evolves is still an enigmatic process.

Modeling COVID-19’s Impact and Making Hard Decisions: There are probably a good dozen articles with a similar title (and Sequoia has a great memo from earlier in March). But if you are looking to choose one that has some more numbers and goes fast, I'd recommend this one from Hyde Park VP where they provide some estimates on sectors that will change the most.

Still reading? Wow! Well, I'll offer two more podcast series to check out - and I'd like to get your own opinions!

Great Leap Years by Stephen Fry: This podcast explores topics ranging from the rise of humans as inventors, to the astonishing combination of persistence, investment and inspiration it took to create the Gutenberg Press and the communication technologies that created our world. It tells the story of how our lives have been transformed by a fascinating and compelling mixture of human decision and vision, greed and need.

Startup by Gimlet: The podcast that launched Gimlet Media (now part of Spotify) started off with one little question "How do you start your own company?". Two episodes I'd highlight: How Not to Pitch a Billionaire and How To Divide An Imaginary Pie.

So long for now! – Hamdi