Venture Builder for bioscience: from startup to success

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An introduction on a Venture Builder focused on translational bioscience

How the Venture Builder model can help to make startups grow very fast

Let’s meet Renato del Grosso of the venture builder Cube Labs

Interview with Renato del Grosso, Co-founder & Chief Strategy Officer of Cube Labs, Angel Investor and Mentor, Life Sciences Expert.

Renato has a passion for translational bioscience (Biotech / MedTech / Nutraceuticals / AI / Digital Health) where scientists, technologists, investors, and companies are his interlocutors.

Making an impact is his mission, and he does it mentoring and coaching startups to help grow the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. Password: connection!

Hello Renato, you are Co-Founder of Cube Labs, a Venture Builder which promotes innovation and operates in the healthcare technology market in Italy. You build companies from promising R&D projects at early stage and provide business and operational support in all phases of their lifecycle to transform cutting-edge science into healthcare solutions. How do you do it? How do you select the projects on which to focus, and how does your team help develop these organizations to accelerate their growth?

We have a defined set of criteria for evaluating the commercial potential of a research project, and we work together with our academic partner INBB (National Institute of Biostructures and Biosystems – Consortium of 24 public universities in Italy) to identify promising technologies that can potentially address unmet needs in healthcare. Foremost, however, we seek positive “chemistry” with the lead scientist and his team since it is imperative for jointly embarking upon what will be a challenging and exciting journey that will last years. 

We have an entrepreneurial, highly experienced core team at the holding company level and a network of trusted partners through which we allocate extra human capital and knowhow to our companies at their earliest stages of development when they most need it. Once the startups are more developed, dedicated management teams are further established. 

How does Cube Labs stand within the pan-European ecosystem? Are you a pioneer in Italy? What are your mission and your values?

We are pioneers in being the first venture builder in the healthcare space in Italy. Our mission is to transform pioneering science into healthcare solutions for patients Our values ​​are naturally linked to our way of being, that is the ethics of transparency and tenacity, with added creativity that is much needed for navigating around setbacks and for enjoying what we do every day. 

How did your passion for translational bioscience develop and what professional experience have you had that have allowed you to deepen this world?

Experience, encounter, education. 

The experience: approximately 18 years in the pharmaceutical and medical sector in large corporations that made historic blockbuster launches to the market. 

A lucky encounter: about 15 years ago during my master’s at the LUISS Business School with an entrepreneur doctor, Filippo Surace, Founder of Cube Labs, the one who conceived the vision and made possible everything, from the business idea to the actual implementation of our company. 

Education: through an Executive Master’s in Finance at Bocconi, which triggered a passion about an area, which till that moment was unexplored.

What is the average duration of your investments and how are the returns? How much is your portfolio worth?

We do not have defined parameters in a way that investment funds do, but rather we are focused on building the value of our portfolio, with varying timing that goes into the development depending on the company types (biotech, med-tech, nutraceuticals). Our expectations on returns are ultimately aligned with the market expectations. 

Regarding the worth of our portfolio, allow me to address with a joke: the present value is inarguably N times higher than the one at establishment time and we are committed to constantly increasing it.

In your opinion, what are the fundamental features for the success of a startup? Is the idea or the execution more important?

The idea is a prerequisite., Even the brightest idea, however, must be tested in the market to understand how the market will respond to that idea. The execution is a critical component of entrepreneurial ability, and it is what turns projects into successful businesses.

What are the characteristics that a good team of founders must have? How important is it to have a good leader and what are the features and qualities he/she must have?

A good team of founders should have within itself synergy, complementarity, energy, and knowhow. The leader empowers the team. I could list a series of characteristics of a good leader that I think would align with the phrase “soft skills”.

How do you do the pre money valuation of a startup in biotech? What methods do you use?

For asset valuation in biotech, the classic financial and market methodologies shall be considered to understand the real value of a company. Naturally, that exercise is consolidated once the first rounds are closed, where the post money valuation becomes the basis for calculating the new pre money. I suggest for those who are starting out to use the basic tools that are available online at acceptable costs. When entering more complex phases, it becomes a must to engage a financial advisor with expertise in biotech, not only to perform the valuation exercise but also for the value of his/her experience in market transactions.

On average, how many years after the establishment of a biotech startup can you target an exit?

It depends on what we mean by exit (IPO or trade sale) and how fast the preclinic / clinical research proceeds. Today, the investor competition has moved more and more to early stages (proof of concept), especially when it comes to rare diseases. These routes, in general, require the endurance of a marathoner and not a sprinter.

If you want to meet other Venture Builders, please read more on the interview with Venture builder: from an idea to a rapidly growing business

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