Valitor- Engineering better medicines by leveraging its multi-valent biopolymer technology

Lab to Startup

Dec 13 2022 • 57 mins

Wesley Jackson, Ph..D., is the co-founder, President and Chief Scientific Officer of Valitor. Wes was the founding CEO and led the startup through its Series B financing where they raised over$30M to date. Valitor is a biotech startup that uses a novel protein-biopolymer conjugation technology that was licensed from the University of California, Berkeley. Professors Kevin Healy and Dave Schaffer were the inventors of the technology and ended up co-founding the startup.

We talk about Wesley’s decision making process to launch the startup, the conjugation technology and the problems it is capable of solving; customer discovery process; lessons learnt from working with partners; finding product market fit; fund raising; importance of work-life balance while building a deeptech startup, a very important topic that is generally frowned upon at startups; and programs that helped Wes grow his startup, leadership transition and many other lessons.

- Decision making process to launch Valiant Bio
- Working with faculty at UC Berkeley to spin out a technology
- Multivalent Polymer conjugation for tissue localization to develop therapeutics
- Customer discovery process
- Speaking with physicians, feedback from grant submissions
- Noise vs signal
- Dissecting "No" from potential customers/investors
- Speaking with potential partners: Timing and alignment
- Questions to ask potential partners
- Product market fit
- Funding journey
- Lessons learnt from grant proposal writing
- Too much data: Mistakes in the pitch deck
- Focus on markets
- Building a biotech startup is mostly a marathon with a few sprints
- Balancing life and family: Raising twins while building the startup
- Doesn't make sense to burn employees as they carry. lot of institutional/intellectual memory
- Role of the board and insights into independent board members
- Leadership transition
- Programs that helped-, California FAST Advisory program