Introducing Roche and the speakers
Partnering with Roche
Securing venture investment from the Roche Venture Fund
From the event’s Q&A:
Q: How involved does Roche become when investing in early-stage companies?
A: Roche’s involvement varies, but besides the funding, we provide our team’s expertise whenever it makes sense.
The Roche Venture Fund invests to develop commercially successful companies in the life sciences space. Its current portfolio includes 37 companies and has an evergreen fund of CHF 750 million allocated from the balance sheet.
Roche’s investing strategy is straightforward:
- Focus on Series A (or Series A-like)
- 15–20% of ownership at first investment
- CHF 5–25 M during life of investment
- Pre-clinical therapeutics
- 12–18 months from launch
- Must have board or board observer seats
Carole Nuechterlein, Head of the Roche Venture Fund, presented a number of tips for a successful venture fund application.
Make sure you’re ready
You have to be past the idea stage of your startup. VCs typically seek tangible progress to reduce risk. But if you’re not at that stage yet, don’t wait to talk to VCs until you are. Building a strong relationship with them should start 1-2 years before funding becomes a pressing need.
Calculate enough time
Expect your fundraising campaign to take between 6 and 12 months. Look for funds that are interested in the area you’re working on, have fresh capital and, most importantly, can add value beyond money. Present your business plan and be prepared to make adaptations based on their feedback. In the end, persistence is key.
Be commercially viable
A VC wants to invest in a startup that’s innovative and differentiated but also addresses a commercial need. You need to prove that your startup will be a success in the long run by, in a best-case scenario, showing a target product profile.
Make it quick, interesting and truthful
Convey the value proposition in the first 5 minutes of your pitch. To do so, tell a story that’s true and, if possible, hits close to home. Be detailed, but don’t exaggerate or bluff if you don’t know the answer. VCs have enough experience to know when something is unrealistic.
Questions to answer in your pitch deck or business plan
There are a number of questions a VC will search answers to in your business plan or pitch deck. Carole usually wants to answer the following questions:
About science and technology
- Is it innovative?
- How much data is available now?
- Is there a “killer” experiment, and is this included early enough in the plan?
- What IP do you have?
- Does it address an unmet need?
- What is the use/indication? Can it be differentiated? What is the target product profile?
About future plans
- Next value inflection point?
- Development pathway and route to regulatory approval/market
- Timelines – realistic?
About the team
- Track record, technical and commercial understanding; any gaps/key hires needed?
- Valuation expectations – are these realistic?
- You’re competing against public companies with low valuations
- Money to be raised – fit for purpose? Milestones/deliverables?
- Any “headroom” needed or operational delays, raising more money etc.
- How much more money will likely be needed before an exit?
- Is there/can we build a syndicate to fund through to exit?
VCs do a lot of due diligence
Before a business transaction occurs, VCs work through a deep research and analysis phase. This includes non-confidential diligence, signing CDAs, confidential diligence, internal presentations, creating term sheets, full IP diligence, and drafting the appropriate documents.
You’ll hear “No” a lot more than “Yes”. Keep listening to feedback and improving your business plan and pitch accordingly. It’s the only way to get the “Yes” in the end.
Roche Venture Fund
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Not ready for VC investment?
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