AVX June 2020 Update

Ahmet-Hamdi Cavusoglu

June 12, 2020

As it is plain to see, we continue to live in strange and difficult times that were inconceivable just months ago. Notably, we have not all been challenged in the same ways. For the past year, I have walked by Eric Garner's last words 'I can't breathe' etched into the pavement - words that now take on added meaning after the murder of George Floyd last week. This has sparked many protests around the country, protests that are speaking up for those who no longer have a voice. These protests are calling for justice and for all of us to do better.

To our Black, Brown, and minority community members, I see your pain and the stress due to the injustices you face every day. The color of your skin should not impact how you are treated. To all of us, we are at our best when we examine ourselves to find our demons and cast them out to grow a little bit better day by day. It is with this continuous growth that we all can work toward a better and more just tomorrow.

In the rest of this newsletter, I will highlight some of our progress at AVX, 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 6491 total connections and conversations on the AVX network - 438 more over the last month (6% month over month growth!). We are currently tracking 9 potential match negotiations and another 70 with multi-month long discussions heading toward possible matches (and a handful of stealth matches that will be announced at a later date). We have now actively connected 417 different ventures (out of 900+ examined) with 973 different entrepreneurs and investors (out of a pool of 2400+). We are also excited to announce that Adriann Sax has joined Vetigenics (UPenn) as CEO. Congratulations to Adriann!


Built with Biology - The Bioeconomy Summit (June 3): As biology ravages the global economy, let’s rethink normal and set a new standard. Together, we can shape how biology will rebuild the global economy stronger and more sustainably. Right now, we have a trillion-dollar opportunity to redefine the economy, supply chains, and manufacturing, while bringing back the millions of jobs that have been lost due to COVID-19. Featuring presentations from California Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis, Vinod Khosla, Representative Ro Khanna, and Michael Chui.

COVID-19 Inflammation and Genetics: Where Biology Meets Translation (June 3): Yale is harnessing our strengths and capabilities to attack COVID-19 across a number of scientific domains including biomedical research, economics, and public health. Each Yale Engage session will feature a moderator with a panel of renowned Yale experts addressing current and future challenges posed by the pandemic. With real-time dialogue and strategic introductions, we will pinpoint critical issues, scalable solutions, and mount a multifaceted response that will help us emerge from the pandemic at a faster pace.

Mindfulness, Mental Health & COVID-19 with Headspace (June 3): According to a poll conducted by KFF, nearly half of American adults surveyed reported that COVID-19 has had a negative impact on their mental health. At the same time, with offices closed, mental health resources are more limited and many people don’t know how to navigate the system. MATTER CEO Steven Collens will interview Headspace CSO Dr. Megan Jones Bell on the mental health implications of COVID-19, existing resources and how mental health startups can pivot to help.

Collaborations During a Pandemic (June 3): Not even a global pandemic can stop the progress of the biotech industry. New York BioLabs hosts a discussion on how collaborations and partnerships can move forward in this socially-distanced new normal.

ELabNYC Pitch Day (June 3-4): 36 life sciences ventures from ELabNYC, the Accelerator for Biosciences in Connecticut (ABCT), and the Westchester County Biosciences Accelerator (WCBA) will present to a community of investors, entrepreneurs, mentors, corporate supporters, government and leading stakeholders. After you hear each company present, you will be able to schedule a time to speak with them directly. Most importantly, you will become an important contributor within this quickly shifting landscape, and experience an afternoon of learning, interaction, and networking.

Finding the Right Co-Founders, Advisers & Building an All-Star Team (June 4): Picking the right Cofounder is one of the most important decisions a founder has to make. Picking the wrong cofounder brings a lot of wasted time and energy - or worse, prevents the company from even getting off the ground. Great startups have great teams, but in a highly competitive market, talent can be in short supply. A great company culture and shared values is something every leader should be thinking about. But once the recruitment process is over, how do you retain the talent and build an All-Star team to help you realize your vision?

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.

Today's Funding Landscape (June 9): In a constantly-changing investor landscape, it can be hard for small and medium biotechs to keep up. JLABS talks about the current state of biotech ventures in this webinar featuring members of J&J Development as well as other venture partners.

UCSF COVID-19 Hackathon Finale Showcase (June 16): Join for the finale to the UCSF virtual three-week hackathon aimed at designing new innovative and technical solutions to the health, medical, and scientific challenges we face due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to all that have submitted applications - we've received over 40 project ideas and 300 participants!

F50 Global Capital Summit: Elevating Healthtech Innovation (June 16-17): The Summit finds and connects the next generation of world-changing tech innovators with partnerships to power their long-term impact. The attendees are corporate executives, angel investors, VCs, PEs, physicians, and a group of high-potential founders.

Secret Science Club: Bring Your Brain! (June 18): Neuroscientist Daphna Shohamy will dive deep into the human brain to explore the links between memories, decision-making, and motivation. Daphna Shohamy is a neuroscientist, professor of psychology, and director of the Learning Lab at Columbia University. She uses behavioral research and neuroimaging studies to explore the neural processes by which memory, learning, and decision-making interact.

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!

How Do Your Start-Ups Measure Up? (June 25): The recent Nature Biotech article "Biotech Living & Walking Dead" has prompted a lively discussion within the AUTM community. There is no question that start-ups arising from the innovations discovered on our campuses are an important resource for the commercial translation of our nascent technologies, an outlet for the entrepreneurial aspirations of our faculty and students, and a vital source of economic development for our host communities and nations. However, the article has provoked a useful dialogue around what we measure and what impact we are hoping to achieve.

Some Insights & Podcasts

And another short installment of insights and podcasts from around the network.

Hiring 10x Execs (Jonathan Swanson on Medium): "Hiring execs is one of the highest leverage things you will do as a founder. It’s also the thing that founders most consistently mess up. If you do it right, it will transform your trajectory. If you mess it up, it will set you back months or years — or worse. Here’s how to get it right."

Six things I had to unlearn moving from academia to entrepreneurship (Sridhar Iyengar on Medium): "My transition from academia into entrepreneurship wasn’t easy: I had to unlearn many things I’d been taught to be true, and subsequently learn many new things that I had a hard time accepting. Let me share some of the contrarian lessons I learned along the way."

When “Grin and Bear It” Isn't the Right Answer — This Behavioral Scientist Shares What to Do Instead (First Round Review): "When the First Round Review team asked me to write something about staying healthy in the time of COVID-19, I spent a sleepless night on a post about how to create behavior change during this stressful season. You can’t really blame me — I’ve been a behavioral scientist for more than 15 years and like everyone, when pressed, I default to what I know. Fortunately, I’ve also spent 37 years as a human, so I waited two months for feelings to settle, scrapped that post and then spent an afternoon trying to write something different."

The Founder's Field Guide for Navigating This Crisis — Advice from Recession-Era Leaders, Investors and CEOs Currently at the Helm (First Round Review): "Leading a startup has always been challenging, even under the best conditions. Founders need to quickly master a tremendous range of skills, from building a fantastic product and nailing go-to-market efforts to raising money and managing a board, all while figuring out hiring, culture and compensation. Starting a company is also a lonely endeavor, one that forces founders to make difficult decisions every day with imperfect information. While triaging these challenges, eventually every founder runs headfirst into a problem they haven’t seen before, the kind that leaves them unsure of where to start."

Advice is More Important — and Overwhelming — Than Ever. Here's How Founders Can Cut Through the Noise (First Round Review): "In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis and ensuing economic turmoil, these dynamics are only heightened, upending carefully-laid plans and adding more to the load on founders' shoulders. This burden is made all the more heavy by a founder's natural inclination to retreat and turn inward in the face of a crisis. Whether a startup is in an industry that’s accelerating due to off-the-charts demand or one that’s stalling out due to a severe crunch, this feeling that it falls on founders to “figure it out” and formulate a winning game plan is intensifying at a rapid clip."

So long for now! – Hamdi