Formulated a business concerning public access to stem cell technology. Won scholarship to the Kick Incubator Seattle.
This is business project focusing on providing the value of utilizing an individual’s Stem cells to fabricate various components of the human body (organs, bones, different types of cells, etc.) which can be used for the individual as needed.
Team Members: Jasmin Chen, Abhigyan Kaustubh, Alex Jian, Greg Uratsu, Maryelise Cieslewicz
In this phase, the various aspects of the proposed project are researched and analyzed for evaluating the viability of this business. This is structured using the Lean Canvas model, which is populated as follows:
The Lean Canvas model is followed by the Validity Experiment to understand the scope of the market and evaluate the business value further.
This is done by generating surveys and designing experiments to obtain feedback from the probable target consumer base.
During this phase, the target customers are refined to the following 4 types. This is done to build empathy and to understand their needs, perspectives and the possible use cases associated with them at a much higher detail.
The results from the previous steps are synthesized, and a plausible plan to ensure a return on investment is generated. This also enables in clarifying our understanding of the market and our position in that market.
myPS bank is a proposal for the first privatized, public induced pluripotent stem cell bank. As it is a biotechnology start up rather than an application or software, the capital needed to establish myPS bank initially would be more than most other start-ups, due to equipment costs, reagents, and employee salary. However, due to the medical and research potential of myPS bank, there are also many avenues of which to recruit fundraising.
Solicit government and translational grants (SBIR Phase 1)
Government and translational grants offer the advantage of non-dilutive funding, as well as a fair amount of capital. The amount of capital required for myPS bank would actually be lower than would be required for many other grant-funded biotechnology ventures, as there is no experimental aspect to myPS bank – rather, we are using established techniques simply to collect, transform and store cells. As a result, the equipment and reagent costs would be easily covered under most government grants, and a government grant would allow for the establishment of the feasibility of commercialized stem cell transduction and storage. However, the downside to grants is delayed funding. This could actually be an advantage for myPS bank, though, for two reasons: first, delayed funding could allow for navigation of any regulatory agencies which may be responsible for oversight of myPS bank (the FDA), and two, delayed funding may also allow for the establishment of safety for pluripotent stem cell clinical trials (several of which are ongoing), which would further add to the value of myPS bank.
Work with a biotech/life sciences incubator and securing more translational grants
Once grant funding is secured, we will then use the delay in funding to prepare myPS bank for working with a biotech or life sciences incubator. Although competitive, we believe the unique value of myPS bank, the use of cutting edge medical technology, and the preemptive solution to future medical problems would make us a solid competitor. An incubator would offer us the advantage of professional advice which could be used to learn about regulatory concerns or soliciting more capital. Additionally, the exposure of myPS bank in an incubator could significantly increase valuation as well as attract investors and new customers. Additionally, during this time, we would look at further translational grants which could assist in any costs associated with ensuring regulatory compliance for myPS bank.
Secure venture funding
For the expansion of myPS bank, venture funding is required. The initial capital from grants and incubators may be enough to establish the first myPS bank and navigate regulatory concerns, but as a physical bank is needed to collect, transform, and store cells, expansion of myPS bank to other locations would require significant capital to expand storage space, hire more staff, and purchase more equipment. However, with the establishment of the myPS bank, we believe we can secure enough customers and revenue which would make myPS bank a feasible and low-risk proposal. Additionally, establishment of myPS bank in new cities would not require a physical bank but rather a “clinic”, which can specialize only in cell collection and shipment to a centralized bank location. As a result, significant capital from venture funding may support the establishment of “clinics” in many other cities, rather than necessitating the establishment of an entire bank in a new city.
MyPSBank: Specific Investors
This section deals with isolating and targeting specific investors.
Initially, MyPSBank would target grants as a means of funding, specifically Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants and grants by the Department of Defense (DoD). The purpose of SBIR grants is to support scientific and technological innovation though Federal research funds which seems to apply very well to the concept of MyPSBank. The first phase of SBIR grants is to establish the technical merit, feasibility, and commercial potential of the proposed R/R&D efforts and to determine the quality of performance of the small business awardee organization prior to providing further Federal support in Phase II. Although SBIR Phase I awards normally do not exceed $150,000 total costs for 6 months, it will provide initial funding for MyPSBank. Phase II and III funds will increase to $1 million or more. The specific DoD grant we would seek after would be the Technology/Therapeutic Development Award which supports the development of new technologies or therapies that have a potential to make a strong clinical impact. Maximum funding would be about $1.5 million.
MyPSBank would seek venture capitalists in the biotech community. The concept of MyPSBank is most similar to the start-ups like 23andMe, therefore, the most logical venture capitalists to reach out to would be investors who were interested in 23andMe and similar novel technology and medicine based start-ups. The two prominent biotech venture capitalists that funded 23andMe included MPM Capital and New Enterprise Associates. MPM Capital has over $2 billion in capital, in which approximately 80 percent of the investments are in the drug industry. The company invests at all stages of development, and in rare occasions has started companies from the ground up. Fund managers of MPM Capital are currently very interested in stem cell advances which places MyPSBank as a high contender to be invested in.
New Enterprise Associates (NEA) invests approximately 40 percent of its money in technology and 40 percent of its money in healthcare, both categories of which MyPSBank belongs. NEA is looking particularly for novel, not just incremental gains in therapeutics or platform funds, and MyPSBank fits in this category. The ambitious concept of proposing the first public stem cell bank as “insurance” for customers’ organs is a unique concept that currently does not exist. With MyPSBank, we are opening doors to future regenerative and therapeutic medicine – ambition that NEA is looking for.
Aside from these large VCs, OrbiMed is another possibility to consider. They invest in the health sciences industry and support companies at all stages of development, including large pharmaceutical companies, private start-ups, and even university spinouts.
Angel investors would also be of interest as a means of receiving money at a faster pace despite the smaller amount of funding compared to VC’s. Specifically, MyPSBank would be interested in biology related angel investors, such as Life Science Angels (LSA) which scope out companies which are focused in life sciences, such as pharmaceuticals, diagnostic agents, and cell tech (in which MyPSBank would fit into the third category). The people that LSA look to fund are those with experience in the space being proposed, in which our team consists of three highly competent bioengineering graduate students with skill sets related to stem cell research and two MBA students with engineering backgrounds.