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Bench scientist to biotech CEO is a brutal transition. 6 key mindset shifts for the biotech leaders of tomorrow:

1. From scientist to politician The biotech industry has some unique challenges: • long lifecycles • capital intensity • high risk • pharma alliances • regulatory scrutiny To navigate these challenges you need to build strong communication, sales and networking skills.
You have to be incrementally better at fundraising and attuned to corporate development. You can't be an isolationist building your product and not worrying about anything else. You should be developing relationships with other companies, investors, and partners from Day #1.
2. From solo effort to team effort. Building a biotech is a professional team sport whereas academia can often be isolating. It's about "how we can attract the right people to get this done as quickly as possible" vs "how I can do this with the least amount of help."
An orchestration of minds is required to reach the patient. Both within the scope of the company with a multidisciplinary team... and outside the scope of the company with partners, pharma, and regulators.
Bob Langer has said, "you don't want to feel threatened. You must hire people who are better than you." I say, "you must feel terrorised! If you're not feeling intimidated by the brilliance of people you're bringing on, you're doing it wrong!"
To reach the patient there's only one way: Together. So... • identify your weak sides • ask for help • seek advisors and mentors • communicate and be open • pressure test your assumptions • hire people who are better than you • give your team freedom
3. From scientistic to manager. Your role will soon be to serve your team and ensure they have everything they need to succeed. Your output is no longer *your* output. Your output is now *their* output. It's what *they* can accomplish vs what you can accomplish.
Management and leadership are the biggest areas for growth among scientific founders. Where should you start? Read this book by Andy Grove. I recommend it to all my founders. This book is GOLD.
4. From yeses to nos. "More people have said no to me in the last 18 months than in the rest of my life combined." — @Adam Freund, Arda Tx You'll get a lot of nos. But nos are not a reflection of your merit. They often have nothing to do with you.
, there are 100s of reasons a VC may say no to you that you have little to zero control over: • bad memories of deals gone south • internal politics • conflicts of interest with other portfolio companies • the VC's own unconscious fears and biases
best shot? Try to understand the person in front of you. Deeply. Ask direct questions: I understand our approach may sound complex. Is there anything that's not clear to you? What are your concerns?
You're an expert in your field. Investors won't sit down to argue with your science. They know less than you. No one has had the insights you've had. If you want people to trust you, you have to trust yourself first. Persevere. Keep building. They'll follow.
mies to allies: If you think that investors, partners and regulators exist to make your life harder, you won't get far. You'll have to work together with these people. You need them as much as they need you. Partnerships require trust.
to investors and partners early on • give information and don't worry about IP protection or your ideas being stolen • ask questions, listen and learn • understand their goals and concerns • find how you can help them so they can help you
fection to action. Founders often see an encounter with investors or pharma as a one-shot game: You arrive in a meeting with your perfect data and they either say yes or no. Well, no. Because *they* (the market) are the ones who'll tell you what data they need!
ards: a. First, talk to people in the industry, investors, pharma, and other companies to understand the marketplace. b. After you've confirmed there's a strong market need, generate data and build. c. Show them your progress and request feedback. d. Repeat.
osed and frequent feedback loop where you pressure test your solution against investors, pharma and partners leads to a better product and faster development cycles.
back to you being a politician... The more you ask for their input, the more they like you. The more they see you grind, the more they trust you. This is a relationship game. At the end of the day, people do deals with those who they like and enjoy working with...
executive coach who after working with a few biotech founders fell in love with biotech. BIG TIME. Follow me for insights from my work with founders, Nucleate mentees, and the whole biotech community. pps: I write a thread like this every Friday. Love, Angelos.
Bench scientist to biotech CEO is a brutal transition. 6 key mindset shifts for the biotech leaders of tomorrow:
Angelos Georgakis
Coached 120+ founders (50+ YC) • Harvard i-lab mentor • ❤️🧬 • @NucleateHQ • tweets on: startups, biotech, CEO excellence, high-performing teams, culture
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