The challenge you want to have: an insider’s view of the Bay Area biotech scene

I had the privilege of chatting to a founder of a biotech company, who was happy to speak to me on condition of anonymity.

Our founder is one of several. As I suspected, setting up a biotech startup requires a very diverse skill set, drawing on expertise in academic research, business development, operations, finance, software, as well as laboratory and medicinal practice. The easiest way to get up and running is to pull together a crowd of founders, each bringing their own specialisation.

There’s a massive diversity of biotech in the Bay Area, from drugs through diagnostics, software and consumer healthcare. This is helped by some angel investment and some niche biotech venture capital firms, such as Prospect Venrock Associates, Mission Bay Capital, 5AM Ventures or Medven. There’s a strong focus around the South Bay, between Menlo Park and Palo Alto.

Some niches are massively competitive. In the founder’s experience, a new field will open up, and once financial investment ramps up, there’s a massive shakeup. Usually, this results in one to three companies emerging victorious, depending on the size of the market.

The challenge of working in an emerging niche is too much to do, and not enough hands or time to do it. The result is a constant struggle to resource new initiatives, while needing to get those initiatives up to build the business. From my perspective, it sounds like the challenge you want to have – being too successful for your own good.


Image source: flickr (cdinesh)

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