Russo Partners has worked closely with Avalon Ventures’ Court Turner over the years. Based in San Diego, Avalon Ventures focuses on seed and early stage financing for life science companies located primarily in California and the Northeast.
The firm, under the leadership of Kevin Kinsella, has helped to finance and build some of the most promiment biopharmaceutical companies, including Vertex Pharmaceuticals, in the space since the early 1980s.
From Court’s position, which is one in which he provides financing and operational support to portfolio companies, he sees the following as three important messages to share with scientists and executives with the earliest stage companies who are looking for funding today:
1. Raise an Amount for Success — Not just to get Financed!
Size your financing request so that you have six to nine months of runway after the next planned value inflection point. A company forecast of expenses and execution must leave some room for setback or redirection based on new data. Presentations that show the last penny being spent on the day of value inflection are viewed immediately as unrealistic and raise questions about the rest of the timelines and planning parameters for the company.
2. Execution Plays Need Operational Leaders
If you are pitching a story that involves the execution of a tight and complicated clinical path, your company’s management team must include a leader with proven experience in handling this. Your CEO cannot — and should not — be the original scientific founder if this individual doesn’t have late-stage clinical trial experience under his or her belt and the next value inflection point relies on clinical and regulatory hurdles.
3. Expect Your Financing to be Tranched
In today’s market, investors are less likely to commit the full financing on day No. 1. The days of VCs playing parents and handing out allowances as quarterly and annual “chores” are completed successfully are upon us. With this in mind, you should be ready to break down your two-year plan into six- and nine-month views with incremental milestones.
Here is Court’s bio. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Court R. Turner, J.D., joined Avalon Ventures in January 2008, focusing on the formation and strategic operations of the Avalon VIII portfolio companies. Currently, Mr. Turner is the Chief Operating Officer of Carolus Therapeutics, Afraxis, Inc., Otonomy, Inc., and Zacharon Pharmaceuticals. Prior to joining the Avalon team, Mr. Turner spent over 10 years of his career within companies in the San Diego biotechnology community. Starting in 1997, Mr. Turner joined Aurora Biosciences Corporation (acquired by Vertex Pharmaceuticals in 2001) in their Legal and Strategic Alliances departments focused on technology licensing, business development and a myriad of corporate legal matters facing a public company, including SEC filings and M&A transactions. In June 2002, Mr. Turner joined Kalypsys, Inc., a then start-up small molecule drug discovery company. During his tenure at Kalypsys, the company grew from 15 to more than 125 employees with an impressive product pipeline and three rounds of financing totaling more than $170M. Mr. Turner was a member of the Kalypsys Executive Management Team. He received a Bachelor’s Degree from San Diego State University and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of San Diego School of Law.