KickStart Venture Services announces official launch of advisory meeting series

KickStart Venture Services is excited to announce the official launch of the KickStart Advisory Meeting series. Since last October, KickStart has focused on building a new program that will give emerging life science startups the opportunity to present their work and receive feedback from a group of skilled, local advisors. The small group of industry-professionals, regulatory and development specialists, and other life science entrepreneurs were carefully chosen to serve as the backbone of the program and have already begun to provide constructive feedback to several IP-based ventures at UNC. Through this series, KickStart hopes to strengthen the local innovation ecosystem and provide a space for valuable knowledge sharing among advisors and company founders. On the first Tuesday of every other month, the advisors along with KickStart will meet to hear short presentations from two new companies and offer advice during an extended Q&A session. KickStart Advisory Meetings are typically comprised of one early stage company and one later stage company; past presenters have included: AnelleO, Enfuego, BMPolytech, and Inhalon. All meetings are directly followed by a social hour that allows companies and advisors to continue networking. On February 3, 2020 KickStart will host the last meeting of the program’s pilot and mark the official launch the series with presentations from SOVE and Altis Biosystems.

When KickStart asked past company presenters and advisors to provide feedback on the pilot, they received encouraging comments from both groups. There was considerable engagement from both the advisors and company founders. The survey showed that over two thirds of the advisors followed-up after the meeting to provide additional support or feedback to the startups. Additionally, nearly 80% of the respondents noted that the meetings were useful to them personally, and 100% said they planned to continue attending the series. Read on to learn more about what some of the presenting startups and advisors had to say.

Rahima Benhabbour, founder of AnelleO:

“I want to thank you again for your tremendous support and for inviting me to present and showcase our technology to a room full of very smart people indeed. We received some good feedback today and look forward to implementing it.”

Chad Pecot, founder of Enfuego:

“Very helpful. Probably the most helpful feedback I got was what investor’s focus and interests would be on rapid return of investment. I got important feedback about only focusing on developing therapeutics against very well validated targets instead of ones we’re discovering in the lab, that way the risk is only on the technology and not the targets.”

Shawn Glidden, advisor:

“I think the meeting hits several necessary needs in the community: 1) an avenue for new ventures or hopefuls with good ideas to access otherwise very expensive advice in a ‘friendly fire’ setting; 2) provides exposure to new and potential ventures maturing at the University; 3) provides outward exposure for new and potential ventures maturing at the University; and 4) provides networking opportunities for both the new ventures and the community.”

Anonymous advisor:

“Early feedback is essential for any entrepreneur attempting to build a successful life science venture.  At the same time, more experienced entrepreneurs and investors have an opportunity to learn about local business opportunities.”

With this feedback in mind, KickStart hopes to continue to bolster the program by refining the meeting format, preparing company founders to present, and increasing the number of advisors from specialized fields. KickStart Advisory Meetings not only open a conversation between company founders and industry professionals but also serve as a potent reminder of the important scientific advancements being made at UNC; as one advisor put it, “the presentations were the best parts.” Please join KickStart in celebrating this launch and consider supporting the program by referring a company founder or potential advisor. If you are interested in presenting your startup at an upcoming advisory meeting or if you are interested in providing your expertise as an advisor, please contact KickStart at kickstart@unc.edu.