Prof. David Schaffer and Dr. David Kirn are the co-founders of 4D Molecular Therapeutics (4DMT). We cover the founding story, underlying technology development, funding from research grants to IPO, partnerships with pharma and biotech companies, lessons f
4D Molecular Therapeutics: https://www.4dmoleculartherapeutics.com
- Gene therapy was risky, but Dave took the leap of faith counting on a few things- gene therapy becoming big one day; AAV is going to play a big role; and that the natural forms of AAV were not going to cut it.
- 14 years of research in academia before launching the startup
- AAV has passed through several boom and bust cycles, and the current timing is great.
- Three products in the clinic and more n the way
- Disease first approach
- Over a billion variants of AAV in the library
- One of the most important roles of a CEO is to set the vision and hire great people
- Be very careful who you take money from- some do that to sell you off quickly. There is indeed good money and bad money
- VCs diversify by investing in multiple startups, while 4DMT diversified internally to succeed
- Business development is a nice alternative to straight equity financing
- Financing is like painting the Golden Gate bridge. You never stop
- Several opportunities to exit, but decided to focus on seeing a therapy to the market rather than make a quick buck
- Partnerships bring cash, capabilities and validation.
- Developed innovative partnership models, so they didn't lose ownership rights to vectors. Transformative partnership with Pfizer
- Reason behind going to IPO instead of raising more VC money
- Going to an IPO by itself is not a success. It is just another form of funding to get to your goals.