By Randy Schreckhise and Amy Duncan
To kick off the new SDEE Investor Day program, we arranged for SDEE member companies to meet with Hannah Chang, M.D., Ph.D., Director of Wu Capital Investment in October 2017. All SDEE member companies who submitted applications were invited to meet with Hannah to learn more about the fund.
About the Event
The event kicked off with a networking session, followed by lunch in the Chronicle Room at The Alexandria building in Torrey Pines, generously provided by Alexandria Real Estate Equities, the event sponsor. At the lunch, Hannah spoke about the fund focus, and what she looks for in investments, and then met one-on-one and heard pitches from the five selected companies.
About Wu Capital
Wu Capital is the family office of Madame Wu Yajun, the Founder and Chairwoman of Longfor Properties, and one of China’s richest women. While most of Wu’s holdings are primarily in China, Wu Capital US was established in San Francisco to focus on therapeutic companies, particularly in oncology, CNS, autoimmunity and inflammation. The fund is interested in new therapeutics and new treatment modalities. Since the fund is a family office, they don’t need to continuously raise money, as many venture funds do, and are therefore are able to focus on long term investment. They typically look to invest $5M - $25M in several rounds, and will invest at an early stage to as late as a crossover investor (investing prior to, during, and after a companies IPO). Wu Capital USA also invests in other funds as a limited partner.
Some anecdotes from Hannah’s presentation:
- While Madame Wu does not necessarily need to make more money, Hannah indicated that she frequently says, “You have to measure excellence in some way. Return on investment is as good a way as any.”
- One question Hannah asks when evaluating a company to fund is “is this an entrepreneur’s entrepreneur?” She indicated that it is hard to find good teams with experience with drug development. Presumably finding overlap between the two would be her ideal investment.
- The level of collaboration in terms of companies collaborating with each other is unique to San Diego. The ability to recruit people to San Diego vs. Boston or San Francisco is a positive from an investor’s standpoint.
- One development strategy Hannah favors is pursing an initial rare, or orphan disease, where opportunity exists to expand.
- A balance exists between a “Good Startup CEO” vs. “the need to professionalize.” Hannah recommended first time CEOs not sell themselves short, but be open to the possibility of bringing on a new team as the company matures.
As we plan more Investor Day events, our goal is to help elevate awareness and appreciation of SDEE member companies and the San Diego startup community by venture funds. Look for announcements from SDEE on the events page of our website, through our emails, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter for the next Investor Day event.