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Top 10 Tips for Life Science and Health Care Entrepreneurs from the OneStart 2015 London Bootcamp

We've selected the top 10 takeaways presented at the two-day OneStart Bootcamp in London by experienced speakers from SR One, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Takeda Ventures, and more.

From right to left, Jens Eckstein, President of SR One chairs the Experienced Entrepreneurs Panel with Neill Mackenzie, CEO of Roji, Roger Bone, VP Transactions of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, London, Rod Richards, CEO of VHsquared, and Andy Sandham, Partner of Syncona Partners.
From right to left, Jens Eckstein, President of SR One chairs the Experienced Entrepreneurs Panel with Neill Mackenzie, CEO of Roji, Roger Bone, VP Transactions of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, London, Rod Richards, CEO of VHsquared, and Andy Sandham, Partner of Syncona Partners.

On a crisp winter’s day in February, almost 100 co-founders from the 35 semi-finalist startups of OneStart Europe 2015 gathered at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, QMUL, for a two-day Biotech Bootcamp packed with pitching sessions, speed networking, panel discussions and masterclasses designed to provide an introduction to the gauntlet of entrepreneurship and the opportunity to network with over 70 industry experts, ranging from experienced entrepreneurs to pharma execs to venture capitalists.

Matthew Foy, Partner of SR One, speed networking with a OneStart Europe 2015 Semi-finalist team. Matthew Foy, Partner of SR One, speed networking with a OneStart Europe 2015 Semi-finalist team.

Organised by SR One and the Oxbridge Biotech Roundtable (OBR), OneStart is a unique accelerator aimed at the next generation of bio-entrepreneurs which awards a grand prize of £100k/$150k to the each winning team from OneStart Americas and Europe (which includes the rest of the world). Since 2013, OneStart has crowned three exceptional winners, Puridify (Europe 2013), Eva Diagnostics (Europe 2014), and Resilience Therapeutics (Americas 2014). Puridify, a UK-based bioprocessing company, have gone on to raise a further £1.6M in seed funding from Imperial Innovation, SR One and the Technology Strategy Board. Eva Diagnostics have received an Innovate UK Smart Award and launched their AnemiPoint alpha prototype. Both firms attended the OneStart 2015 Bootcamp to impart their wisdom to our current semi-finalists.

This year’s semi-finalists were diverse both internationally, with 11 startups from outside the UK and in their approaches and ideas. Some startups addressed diabetes, smoking addiction, obesity, gut and skin diseases, cancer, Ebola, age-related frailty, or neurodegeneration. Others were developing gene replacement therapies, combination chemotherapies, drug repurposing, antibodies, and biotherapeutics for unmet needs.

In diagnostics and therapeutics we saw technologies aimed at detecting cancer, gastrointestinal disorders, dementia, diabetes, and seizures, genome manipulation, and nanocarriers traversing the blood-brain barrier. In devices and IT, we saw an innovative heart valve, non-invasive glucose monitor, tourniquet, and catheter, as well as eyes for blind people, imaging software, biological 3D printing, visual aids for blind people, single cell transcriptome analysis, clinical trial recruitment software and a lab on a chip. Click here for a more detailed list of our semi-finalists.

OneStart Europe 2015 Semi-finalist shares his idea with Matthias Essenpreis, CTO of Roche Diagnostics.

Eye-opening advice given by our partners, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Takeda Ventures, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Roche, McKinsey & Co., MedCity, AstraZeneca, Silicon Valley Bank, Forresters, and Olswang were supplemented with valuable input from the UK’s top biotech CEOs, seasoned investors from DFJ Esprit, Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC and Syncona Partners, and experts from NICE and the Health Innovation Network, amongst others. The overwhelming enthusiasm for supporting young life science and health care startups was palpable and demonstrated that OneStart provides more than just funding for the winners, but also a platform for building lasting networks and practical education for these budding entrepreneurs.

The two days of wisdom shared by industry experts and experienced entrepreneurs have been documented on Twitter (look up #OneStart) but we’ve collated our top 10 takeaways right here.

Top 10 takeaways for life science and health care entrepreneurs

1. Startups must aim to fundamentally change health care in order to successfully create value. Know the history of the industry and learn from it. Highlight what’s different about your approach.

2. Building a company is an iterative process: learn from others’ and your own failures. But be honest with yourself. Killing a sinking company or programme early is a value-creating decision.

3. Your team is critical. Investors will invest in an A-class team with a B-class idea rather than a B-class team with an A-class idea.

4. Take into consideration that value is created over a long period when putting co-founder agreements together, and do this early on. Having the proper legal framework (including employment contracts as well as IP) within your company can also increase your chances of securing investment.

5. The clarity of your pitch is critical when facing both pharma and investors. Both pharma and investors are looking for unique science, capable leadership and executional credibility demonstrated through your social reputation and solid scientific data.

6. Getting investors on board is more than just accessing money. Good investors can provide management advice, technical expertise, and their professional network.

7. When partnering with pharma, relationships can, and should, be built before negotiations start. This helps to develop loyal champions for your startup within the pharma who can help to keep your needs on their meeting agendas and make sure you get the attention you deserve.

8. Gain experience in pitching to investors. Even if you know they are not for you, pitching and getting feedback will help develop a watertight business plan. Remember, a business plan is more than just a pitch and should include 3 elements: how you fulfil an unmet need, differentiation between your product and the competitors’, and your operational plan.

9. Get as much no-strings-attached funding while you can. Fully consider non-dilutive funding sources such as grants and entrepreneurship competitions, and enterprise fellowships that can also help keep connections with academia and university facilities.

10. Raising cash can feel like the hardest time for entrepreneurs. But perseverance can get you through.

To top this article off, we thought we'd also treat you with 5 extra tips.

5 bonus tips for pitching to investors

  • Don’t state the obvious
  • Don’t exaggerate market size
  • Don’t try to predict the future
  • Don’t state you have no competitors
  • Don’t tell them you can’t tell them about your technology

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