Women Breaking the Boundaries of Science is a BVS La Jolla Biotech Community event to discuss issues and celebrate successes of women in the science industry. This event will include a keynote address by Pamela Gardner (President and CEO of Biotech Vendor Services), a panel discussion moderated by Holly Smithson (CEO, Athena), vendor exhibits, networking, food & cocktails.
Date: June 28, 2018
Venue: San Diego Marriott La Jolla
GlobeSt.com recently sat down with Ted Jacobs, Sr Director at Cushman & Wakefield San Diego, to hear his views on the future of Life Sciences companies here in San Diego. Recent proposals to cut funding for medical research have raised concerns about the future viability of these companies. Check out the interview for Ted's insights into the current health and future outlook of Life Sciences here in our community.
Congratulations to ALT Lab Equipment San Diego on their recent expansion to a 14,000 sq ft site at 6444 Nancy Ridge Dr! ALT is a great resource for local biotech startups looking for affordable refurbished lab equipment. Check out this article for more details. Want to see the facility and meet the staff? Join the ALT launch party and ribbon cutting November 30 at 4-6:30 pm.
By Roberta Alexander
On October 13, 2016, SDEE discussion was about beer, instead of drug discovery and biotechnology. The event was held at the Roth Auditorium at The Sanford Institute for Regenerative Medicine and attendees could sample several beers on the patio, looking at the beautiful view of the sunset on the ocean. Although the topic of the discussion seems unfitting with SDEE’s scope, there are several reasons why the event was focused on beer: 1. Craft beer in San Diego is made by entrepreneurs who face challenges similar to those faced by scientists in start-up biotech companies; 2. SDEE holds monthly happy hours at a local brewery, so there is definitely a connection!
Panelists at the event, which was moderated by Randy Schreckhise, were Eric O’Connor from Thorn Street Brewery, Matt Del Vecchio of Duckfoot Brewing Company, and Simon Lacey of New English Brewing, where SDEE members and friends meet for happy hours.
Where did the idea of starting a brewery come from?
Duckfoot Brewing Company was founded about 15 months ago but started, as an idea, years earlier, when Matt and his wife spent many weekends driving from New York City to Vermont to escape the stress of their lives in the city. Matt was a financial advisor not happy with his job and his hectic life in NYC. Although craft brewing was not very popular at the time, beer and snowboarding were passions that he wanted to pursue as career. While in the process of writing a business plan for a brewery catering to the snowboarding community, he was diagnosed with celiac disease, and his life became quite dark. The depression lifted when he discovered a brewery in Oregon that was making a couple of gluten-free beers using an enzyme to break down gluten. Thus, Duckfoot Brewing Company was born with the goal of making lots of different wonderful gluten-free beers, not only for snowboarders, but also for the celiac and gluten-free communities. Matt’s passion for snowboarding was the inspiration for the name of the brewery, as duck is a popular snowboarding stance. Although still very young, Duckfoot Brewing Company has a tasting room and self distributes its beer up to Los Angeles.
Simon Lacey’s story is not too different from Matt’s in the sense that he, too, was tired of his career and wanted to pursue his passion. Simon was a mechanical engineer who moved to San Diego in 1995 to work for Nokia. After a couple of lay-offs, he went to a beer convention in town in 2004 and fell in love with the business of brewing. He learned the ropes via internships and small jobs, and opened New English in 2007. He is British, so that is where the name of his brewery originates. Simon did not write a business plan, but knew he wanted to produce beer by local people, with local products, and for the local community. To keep the costs down during the recession of 2008, he ran the business by himself in the Old Mission Brewery using shared equipment, and in 2011 he finally moved to his current location in Sorrento Valley. Ten years and 3 full time employees later, he is currently working on a business plan. New English Brewery has 1 distributor and plans to expand distribution to Orange and L.A. Counties. Now that grocery stores understand that customers want craft beer, Simon plans to get some coveted shelf space in grocery stores. Canada and Scandinavia are on the horizon, too.
Eric’s story also fuses science with beer. He was the director of the flow cytometry core facility at the Sanford Institute for Regenerative Medicine until recently. Before that, he headed a flow cytometry core facility in the UK. This is where he rediscovered beers from England, Belgium, Germany, and the Czech Republic, where craft beer is actually called beer! Back in San Diego, he realized that the beer industry had flourished, and craft beer and food and beer pairings were now the norm. He became a home brewer and, eventually, bought a brewing license with some friends. Local bars and restaurant liked his beer, but he and his partners decided to raise some capital and expand beyond their cool place in North Park. They are building a facility in Barrio Logan and, although there have been some challenges, things are moving along nicely.
The Great American Beer Festival in Denver, CO is widely considered to be the Super Bowl of beer, with over 7,000 beers competing for 280 medals. Winning a medal is quite an achievement, and San Diego brought home 18 of them in 2016. Duck Foot Brewery won a silver medal with its Contender IPA with Fresh Chilis, and New English’s Zumbar Chocolate Coffee Imperial Stout, which uses coffee beans from the local coffee shop Zumbar, won a bronze. Eric did not win anything this year at the GABF, but his success in other competitions speak for the quality of his product.
Dark days in the brewery business
Brewing beer is not always fun. Frictions with business partners can happen in breweries like in any other start up. People put their savings in the business, money can be tight, and disagreements can ensue. Nonetheless, working through the differences and looking at the big picture can help create a great culture.
Non-human related problems can happen, too. Lactobacillus infection can be devastating for a barrel aged imperial stout and, if it happens, one just needs to throw away the whole batch, with big losses. In the long run, it is better to throw away one batch than to ruin one’s reputation by bottling a subpar product.
Investors may be necessary in a brewery like in any other business. Equipment and facilities are expensive, so brewers need capital if they want to expand. Sometimes investors are just friends and family, and sometimes one can meet them via networking. In other cases, investors come to you. One advantage of having a tasting room is that people, including investors, get to know you, your product, and your business, and may want to invest in it.
It may be challenging to create interesting content for the various social media outlets, and it can be a lot of work for a small business, but nowadays having a social media presence is a must. Eric used social media to advertise some funny beer competitions for cash prizes. These competitions may not have been a great return on investment for the brewery, but they created a lot of traffic and people had a lot of fun!
This article was originally published by Roberta Alexander on LinkedIn.
June 23, 2016 Workshop: Perfect Pitch – For Creating and Delivering Winning Presentations
by Neil Thompson, Patent Agent & Writer
Does the idea of pitching an investor make you want to…abandon that idea? If so, you’re not alone. The pitch workshop, hosted by SDEE on June 23 at Hera Hub, was packed with people wanting to know how to perfect their pitch. Here are 10 tips from the experts. Specials thanks to our panelists Jeff Friedman (Tech Coast Angels), Larry Fromm (Achates Power), Diane West (2Connect), and Grace Chui-Miller (Correlation Ventures) for their nuggets of wisdom.
- Get the audience’s attention within the first minute (Larry says you have one minute to grab investors’ attention before they tune out. Facebook photos won’t scroll through themselves after all. Larry also says that if you have an hour for the pitch, do it in 20 minutes, leaving the rest of the time for Q&A.)
- Tell the audience a story (Diane understands that investors need data to make an informed decision about your company, but she implores people who are pitching to couch that data in stories. Kids like stories. Adults do, too.)
- Know your audience (According to Diane, the story that the pitch audience wants to hear will vary. The technology-minded will want to hear a technology story. The business-minded? A business story. Find out beforehand who will be in the audience to tailor the story to the audience.)
- Be honest about challenges (One of Jeff’s pet peeves is presenters that say they have no problems. There are always issues to overcome. Be honest about them. The investors, if they choose to take you on, may be able to help.)
- Focus on your strengths, not your competitors’ weaknesses (Larry is immediately turned off by pitch presenters who disparage the competition. Chances are the pitch audience knows your competitors and all their warts. Focus on the benefits of your product and how it addresses the problem you’re solving.)
- Don’t claim that you have no competitors (When she hears a pitch presenter say there is no competition, Grace thinks either the pitch presenter didn’t do his homework or is lying to make his product seem more novel. Acknowledge the competition. It makes you seem more knowledgeable of the market.)
- Don’t include financial models with dramatic increases (If you’re a pitch presenter, do you have a slide in your deck that resembles a hockey stick, rising uniformly over a 10 year period then leveling off? Ditch that slide. Grace believes that 2-3 year financial projections are the best a pitch presenter can reasonably estimate. 10 years? 15 years? No way.)
- Always have backup slides with more detailed information on hand (In Jeff’s group at Tech Coast Angels, the pitch audience is often mixed. For example, a scientist may have technology-related questions, so have slides available that would address them. Don’t present those slides unless asked, especially if the majority of the audience is not science or technology savvy.)
- Be confident, not arrogant (Diane’s view is that there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. The line consists of listening. Confidence is quiet. Arrogance is loud. Listen to learn the audience’s needs. Accept feedback.)
- Don’t try to get married on the first date (Larry is adamant that the purpose of a pitch is to start a conversation, not end it. Investors don’t typically write a check at the end of a pitch. The pitch is to get the pitch presenter to the next phase of the investors’ selection process. Hopefully, closing the deal will come soon enough!).
Neil Thompson is a writer, patent agent, and notary public among other things. You can read his musings on his blog “I’m not an expert. I’m just a guy who likes to think about stuff…” at neilithompson.com.
A Snapshot of the 10x Medical Device Conference
What do you get when you take medical device enthusiasts from across the country and abroad and place them in a scenic location for three days in sunny San Diego? The 10x Medical Device Conference. In its fourth year, 10x is the annual networking event of LinkedIn’s Medical Devices Group. The event, which took place May 2-4, 2016 at the Courtyard San Diego Airport, is the brainchild of Joe Hage, a medical device marketer with a penchant for bringing people together. On the first day of the event, conference goers were treated to workshops, a keynote speech, and the manufacturers’ showcase. In the morning, attendees heard from consultants Robert Packard, Nancy Knettell, and Maren Nelson about the intricacies of a 510(k) FDA submission. The 510(k), required for class II medical devices, shows that a medical device is safe and effective for human use. Knettell particularly spoke about software documentation requirements for a 510(k) submission. “Your software is a death dealing X-ray,” Knettell quipped, reiterating that even though software isn’t implanted in the body, its documentation is just as important as that of an implantable device.
Medical device reimbursement was another workshop topic. As insurance costs skyrocket and insurers become stricter on what they will cover, reimbursement is now more important than ever. Nicholas Anderson, an analyst at Intermountain Healthcare, explained that many product manufacturers do a poor job at showing clinical utility, which insurers require to pay for a medical procedure. Anderson explained that in the case of one product, only one in 58 patients benefits from the treatment. If the insurer pays $600/treatment, that’s almost $35000 in costs to the insurer!
During the afternoon session, attendees learned about neuro sales and marketing strategy. Mike Sperduti, the workshop’s facilitator, is a serial entrepreneur who has sold two companies. He teaches people how to approach potential customers to generate greater sales. Sperduti advised attendees to focus on customers’ communication styles. Visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and digital communicators must be approached differently to get their attention and sell to them. For instance, according to Sperduti, digital communicators want to see clinical data, independent reports, and white papers before making a sales decision. Auditory communicators are swayed by testimonials from those they trust. Sperduti even told the audience about language to use when addressing different communicators. For auditory communicators, he suggested using words that connote sound, like “I’ll talk to you later,” “Does that sound good to you?” and “I hear what you’re saying.” If you don’t know the communication style of the person you’re contacting, use all of them!Read more