So you want to start a life sciences company? Pointers to succeed: ENET Meeting, March 15, 2016

TOMORROW night, on Tuesday March 15, 2016 at 6pm, the Boston Entrepreneurs’ Network (ENET) will present a panel of four speakers on this subject at the group’s Cambridge location:  Microsoft Technology Center, 255 Main Street, 4th Floor, Kendall Square. Cambridge, Massachusetts.


There are lots of ways to fund and launch a life sciences start-up. The work is always interesting, often with the potential to change the lives of patients suffering from an under served medical condition.  Yes, there are lots of ways to get the job done, but none of them are easy.   ENET has assembled a distinguished panel of experienced entrepreneurs, including three current CEOs,  who have accepted the life sciences start-up challenge, each having taken a very different path.  Join us to hear their stories and engage them in discussion.




Andrew Snyder, Ph.D. is a Research Scientist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. In his current role, he focuses on finding novel therapeutics for cardiovascular disease in collaboration with Bayer Healthcare.  Prior to working at the Broad, Andy worked at Targanox, Inc, a biotech focused on discovering targeted therapeutics to offset the effects of reactive oxygen species.  As part of the initial startup team, Andy was responsible for setting up the biology laboratory, co-developing the proteomics platform and conducting screening assays to identifying targets and inhibitors.   Andy holds a Ph.D. (Molecular and Cell Biology) and a M.S. degree (Environmental Molecular Biology) from the University of Maryland at Baltimore and a B.S. in microbiology from the University of Maryland at College Park.  Andy began volunteering with ENET in 2014.


Shikha P. Barman, Ph.D., Co-Founder, CEO & CTO Integral BioSystems, Co-Founder and CEO, Integral Ophthalmics, , a CRO/innovation-based company based in Bedford, MA.  Named as one of “20 Women to Watch in Massachusetts High Technology in 2014”, Dr. Barman has over 20 years of experience in the translation of concepts from the lab into clinical and commercial drug products.. Prior to founding Integral BioSystems, Dr. Barman served in leadership roles at various start-ups. At Follica, Inc. a start-up founded by Boston-based Puretech, she was V.P. Pharmaceutical Development.  At the now-publicly traded Inotek Pharmaceuticals, she was Senior Director of Pharmaceutical Development.   he was Head of Vaccine and Transdermal Development at Sontra Medical Corporation.   At Zycos, Inc., Dr. Barman was Head of Gene Delivery. Lastly, at Focal, Inc., she helped develop one of first lines of biodegradable tissue sealants, now marketed as FocalSeal, by Genzyme BioSurgery.   She has 17 issued US Patents and 56 US applications/PCTs, 65 publications and 4 book chapters.   Dr. Barman has a dual degree Ph.D in Polymer Science and in Plastics Engineering from University of Massachusetts at Lowell, a M.S. in Polymers from University of Massachusetts at Lowell, and B.S. / M.S. in Chemistry from Auburn University, AL.


Ulrik B. Nielsen, PhD, CEO and Co-Founder of Torque Therapeutics, Inc., , a company focused on the specific modulation of immune cell subsets based on novel platform technologies. The goal is to develop a next generation of immunotherapies to address otherwise intractable cancers – particularly solid tumors. He was previously a founder of Merrimack Pharmaceuticals where he served as the Chief Scientific Officer until 2015 and remains on the board of directors. At Merrimack, Ulrik was responsible for R&D and the early phases of clinical development. He was instrumental in building the company’s Network Biology platform and oncology pipeline. Dr. Nielsen holds a PhD in molecular biology from the University of Copenhagen and did research at the University of California San Francisco and MIT. Ulrik has also undertaken extensive executive business education, including education at Harvard Business School (PLD graduate).


Nagesh K. Mahanthappa, PhD, MBA. CEO & President, Scholar Rock®, LLC, , a company that is discovering and developing a new class of biologic therapies to selectively target dysregulated growth factors in the disease microenvironment resulting in therapeutic effects specifically at the source of disease.     Dr. Mahanthappa is a biotechnology entrepreneur with over 20 years of industry experience in roles spanning discovery research through early clinical development, as well as operations and strategy. Prior to Scholar Rock®, Dr. Mahanthappa was a founding employee and VP, Corporate Development at Avila Therapeutics, Inc. (acquired by Celgene Corporation in 2012). Earlier professional roles include business development at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, and discovery research at Ontogeny (now Curis, Inc.) and Cambridge NeuroScience. He was also a founder of TwistDx, a DNA diagnostics company acquired by Inverness Medical Innovations (now Alere, Inc.) in 2010.  Dr. Mahanthappa received his Ph.D. in Neurobiology from the California Institute of Technology, and post-doctoral training at the E.K. Shriver Center for Mental Retardation (then affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital) and Harvard Medical School. He received his MBA from the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Management at Babson College.



Dr. Roger Frechette is the Co-Founder and Principal of New England PharmAssociates, a consultancy offering on-demand executive and business advisory services to life sciences enterprises. He was the US East Coast Ambassador for Medicon Valley Alliance, a life sciences cluster organization based in Copenhagen. Previously, he was a Co-Founder of Frontiera Therapeutics, a startup developing therapeutics for vascular leaks. He is a volunteer adviser and mentor with several Boston area biotech incubators and startup mentoring programs. Previously, Dr. Frechette was Co-Founder of MaxThera, an antibacterial drug discovery company. MaxThera was sold in 2010 to Biota Holdings Limited, a Melbourne Australia anti-infectives company.  Prior to starting MaxThera, Dr. Frechette was a drug discovery and life-sciences consultant following his role as Project Director at Paratek Pharmaceuticals (Boston).  Previously, he was Associate Director of Chemistry at RiboGene (Hayward, CA), where he built the chemistry department and managed two drug discovery programs in collaboration with strategic partner Dainippon Pharmaceuticals. He began his career as a medicinal chemist at the R.W. Johnson Pharmaceutical Research Institute (J&J, Raritan, NJ). Dr. Frechette was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Yale University, earned his PhD in Organic Chemistry from Wesleyan University and his BA in Chemistry from College of the Holy Cross.



For more information or to register for the March 15 ENET  meeting,  go to    or


Hopefully, these presentations on ways to fund and launch a life sciences start-up  will be helpful to entrepreneurs in small and early stage companies I represent.  Hope to see you at ENET’s  Cambridge meeting place, at Microsoft Technology Center tomorrow night at 6pm!


Related to this presentation, I was moderator of two earlier ENET presentations, that I want to call to your attention, one that included funding of life science companies and one that dealt with launching technology based companies in general.  I thought that slides from these meetings  may be of interest to you as a supplement to the panel tomorrow night, and also of interest whether you are seeking to launch a life sciences company or other technology based company.


Two months ago, on January 5, 2016, I was meeting organizer and moderator for the ENET meeting on Product Development in Life Science & Tech Startups.”   Our lead speaker that night was Dr. Richard Gill, who spoke not only to the issue of product development in biotech, medical device and across the life sciences fields but also spoke to the issue of funding of startup life sciences companies.


Here is a link to Dr. Gill’s excellent slides  – “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Life Sciences Investing  or How to Navigate the world of Life Sciences product development and commercialization”



Here is a little bit on Dr. Gill’s background as both serial entrepreneur and well placed angel investor in life science companies.



ENET 1-5-16 Richard Gill PhDRichard Gill, PhD, Board Director and Investor, Launchpad Venture Group  ( )    Dr. Gill is a seasoned entrepreneur, CEO, investor, and board member. He is a longtime investor and director at Launchpad Venture Group, the largest angel investing group in the Northeast. Dr. Gill is active on the board of several startups. Dr. Gill’s most recent operational role was President & CEO of TruTouchTechnologies, an alcohol testing and biometric device company, where he remains a board member.


The other meeting I wanted to call to your attention, was ENET’s kickoff meeting two years ago, that I moderated.   That meeting occurred September 3, 2013, “Ready, Set, Launch…  Knowing when you’re ready & How to start a company.”   Though not focused on life sciences, this meeting none the less has lessons for all those who want to launch a new company.  This was an ENET  meeting from which would-be entrepreneurs and company founders can learn from four entrepreneurs who have stepped out on their own and had success in launching and developing their companies. This meeting dealt with the issues of  when you felt you had the customer traction to start your company, starting your company and bootstrapping through those early days to reach growth, overcoming challeges and lessons learned along the way.  We had four speakers that night.  Two I recruited,  and two were recruited by ENET volunteer and Ad Board member Lt. William Adelson.   Each of these speakers was able to offer their experience starting companies and also coaching entrepreneurs, as follows:


  • Vicki Donlan,  Women’s Business and Health Coach,  As an entrepreneur, she was founder and publisher of Women’s Business, a 25,000 controlled-circulation newspaper devoted to women in business in the Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island region, founded in 1998, and sold to the Boston Herald in 2004, remaining as publisher through 2007.Her first book HER TURN Why It’s Time for Women To Lead in America was published in September 2007. She is a regular guest discussing women in business on New England Cable News’ Business Day and a well-known speaker.

Link to Vicki Donlan SLIDES:


  • Joe Baz, CEO & founder of Above the Fold ( ), Joe helps executives and project teams with defining measurement strategies that ultimately impact the business’s bottom line. He has over 16 years of experience in strategy, usability and design of web applications, and has consulted on dozens of web application projects since the inception of Above the Fold in 2004.  Joe is also the President of Spark Coalition ( ), a 501(c)6 non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the interests of small business technology providers through mass mobilization. The coalition formed in response to recent implementation of the #TechTax, which has threatened small businesses in Massachusetts by giving them a competitive disadvantage and increasing the cost and complexity for starting and maintaing a business using software technologies.

            Link to Joe Baz SLIDES:


  • Bill Seibel, CEO and Founder of Mobiquity,    Prior to founding Mobiquity in 2011, Seibel was CEO of Gumball, a consulting firm specializing in helping CEOs grow their companies rapidly and effectively. In addition, he is executive chairman of LogMatrix. Seibel earlier served as chairman and chief executive officer of Demantra, a leading provider of supply chain and marketing collaboration and analytics that he sold to Oracle in 2006. Before Demantra, Seibel was chairman and CEO of the e-business services company, ZEFER. There, he oversaw the company’s organic growth to more than $130 million in revenue in its first 18 months of operations. Prior to establishing ZEFER, Seibel was executive vice president of Cambridge Technology Partners (CTP) and one of its founding partners. At CTP, he helped take the company through a successful IPO, launched its international operations and led nine of the company’s 12 business units.

            Link to Bill Seibel SLIDES:



  • Greg Skloot, CEO & Co-Founder of Attendware, , the fastest growing event check in and auto name tag printing software. Attendware recently closed a $1M VC round from .406 Ventures. Prior, Greg led a 15 person team as COO of a marketing start-up firm, influencers@. There, he increased revenue by 5x, launched a web product, acquired 2,500 users and built an internal ERP system using PHP. Prior to joining influencers@, he served as President of the Northeastern University Entrepreneurs Club, ranked #6 of its kind in the world. Before Northeastern, Greg started an IT consulting firm that developed 90+ websites and supported hundreds of IT systems and worked at Cisco Systems, where he maintained a $10M data center. Greg is also the author of Getting Organized, a training manual that teaches student leaders how to build university student groups.

            Link to Greg Skloot SLIDES: 







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I remain active in ENET, a Waltham and Cambridge based group that aids founders, entrepreneurs, small and early stage companies, and people who invest or work in those companies.  I have been on the ENET Board since 2002, and served as Chairman since 2009, re-elected in May 2015 to my fourth  2-year term as ENET Chair.  During the period of my leadership, ENET’s annual program has grown from 10 meetings per year to 19 planned for 2015-16:  10 meetings in Waltham, and 9  in Kendall Square Cambridge, plus our annual cruise of Boston Harbor to end the program year.  Each meeting has three or more speakers on a subject of interest to entrepreneurs and company founders, in life science, tech and other areas of New England’s innovation economy.

On January 30, 2016, at a ceremony at the national meeting of IEEE-USA in Las Vegas, NV, the President of that organization Peter Eckstein (pictured below)  presented me with the IEEE-USA professional achievement award for “extreme dedication and contributions to the IEEE entrepreneurial community”.


Two months ago, on January 5, 2016, I was meeting organizer and moderator for the ENET meeting on Product Development in Life Science & Tech Startups.”   We had four wonderful and quite complimentary speakers, a full house in Waltham, with 112 in attendance,  and great audience questions.  We began with the big picture of product development across life science fields and then focused on a single company’s successful development, launching and sales of a customer-driven medical device / consumer product.  Then moving to tech, our third speaker focused on key design issues and our 4th speaker closed on scaling and production issues.  To see my write up on the meeting and slides from each of our other three ENET speakers, besides Dr. Richard Gill, go to




Besides the January 5 ENET meeting, I have also organized and moderated two earlier meetings in the current 2015-2016 program year that began in September 2015.


On October 6, 2015, I was meeting organizer and moderator for the ENET meeting on “Innovative Ways to Bootstrap Your Startup Company.”   We had three great speakers, a full house in Waltham and great audience questions.  To see my write up on the meeting and slides from each of our three ENET speakers, go to


joanneOne of the highlights of the October 6 ENET meeting was the presentation of  Joanne Lang, Founder and CEO of AboutOne,   Joanne is  based in Philadelphia and flew in special, at her own cost, to give her presentation for ENET.  Joanne’s slides, “”Bring Your Product to Market Bootstrapped Style… and Keep it there” –  were also excellent, a great and continuing resource for founders and entrepreneurs to use and reference, LINK


On September 1, 2015, I was meeting organizer and moderator for the kick-off meeting to ENET’s 25th year. For that meeting in Waltham, our subject was “Giants of the Startup Community, Founders who made it Big, tell what’s Important”.   It was a great evening for ENET where our founders of startup companies heard stories of entrepreneurial challenges, surprises, disappointments, victories and triumphs.

To see slides from the September 1 ENET event, go to –

Additionally,  in prior years, I’ve moderated and/or spoken at a number of ENET panel presentations, including presentations on the following subjects:

  • “Building and Using Board of Directors and Boards of Advisors  , April 2015 (moderator)
  • “Founder Agreements and Stock Vesting  – Building a Team, Protecting yourself, Managing expectations ”. February 2015  (moderator & speaker)
  • “Entrepreneur Success Stories   ” , September 2014 (moderator)
  • “Raising Money from CrowdFunding” , May 2014 (moderator)
  • “Ready, Set, Launch. Knowing when you’re ready & How to start a company” , September 2013 (moderator)
  • Online Finance and Crowd Funding , April 2013 (moderator)
  • Bootstrapping 101: Alternative Ways to fund a Startup without an Angel or VC, November 2012 (moderator)
  • Seed and Angel Financing , October 2012 (moderator)
  • Getting Stuff for Free, April 2012 (moderator)
  • Transforming Your Idea into a Successful Company, September  2011 (speaker and moderator)
  • Get Going! Launching a Successful Business, September 2010 (moderator)
  • Licensing Technology,  February 2010 (moderator)
  • How to Select and  Retain Management for your Startup Company, February 8, 2008 (speaker and moderator)
  • Getting Initial Money to go from Nothing to Something, October 2007 (speaker and moderator)
  • Strategic Alliances and Partnerships: to build, finance, and develop early stage companies, November  2006 (speaker and moderator)
  • Building Boards of Advisors and Boards of Directors, March 2006 (moderator)
  • Protecting Your Intellectual Property, January 2006 (speaker)