Innovator: Bill Wofford

Bill Wofford

Helping entrepreneurs spin out biotech firms built for success
Bill is a corporate transactional lawyer and drug development entrepreneur. He leads the biopharmaceutical and life sciences practice at Hutchison, where his practice focuses on structuring and negotiating transactions for drug development, biotechnology, medical device and healthcare services companies and financial, strategic and philanthropic investors.

Q & A

You’ve been instrumental in spinning companies out of UNC. How many companies from UNC do you estimate you and your firm have worked with over the years?

I joined the Hutchison law firm in early 2001. In that time, I have personally worked with nearly 20 UNC spinouts, and my colleagues have helped with at least a dozen others.

What role do you play during the spinout process as well as after they get funding?

I like to think I help entrepreneurs build businesses designed for success. This includes helping them understand intellectual property and finance as well as specific legal advice to ensure compliance with securities laws. I also help achieve optimal results from a tax perspective for founders, executives and investors. The most rewarding part of my role, however, is helping teams develop clear visions of what “success” means for a particular venture – and then helping design and implement strategies to achieve it.    

Tell us about Spyryx, one of our most promising startups.

It has been my pleasure to work with Spyryx ever since the company began to emerge from the KickStart Venture Services NEO program. They are working to develop a new kind of treatment for cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening disorder that damages the lungs and digestive system, based on discoveries in the UNC lab of Professor Robert Tarran. I helped the founders and management team negotiate multiple rounds of financing with a syndicate of top-flight venture capital funds and designed equity compensation programs to help them build an outstanding team. In fact, one of the key executive hires, Timm Crowder, PhD., was a friend and a co-founder of the very first UNC startup I ever worked with – Oriel Therapeutics, a company based on Timm’s graduate research under the guidance of Professor Tony Hickey. 

What other exciting projects are you working on these days? 

At Hutchison, I continue to help numerous biopharma and medical technology companies in the southeast develop and commercialize novel drugs, devices and diagnostics. And with long-time clients, friends and business colleagues, I founded Arrivo Bioventures, which is developing several new therapies and hunting for a few more good drug development projects.  

Any best advice for other startups looking to turn their ideas into reality?

Don’t try to do it all yourself. Start building a team you trust.