Wilson Sonsini Panel: VC Financings for Early-Stage Life Science Companies

Please join us for a discussion of the basic terms you will encounter in a typical VC financing and a Q&A session with four VCs from the Bay Area life sciences community. What are the best ways to approach fundraising with VCs? What should founders/CEOs avoid when pitching to VCs? What do VCs look for in a life science startup company? What sort of business case/pitch is compelling, from the perspective of a VC? What do all of these investment terms mean? A brief presentation, followed by a Q&A session moderated by Wilson Sonsini’s James Huie and Matt Kovac.

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About the Speakers

Zach Collins, PhD is a Principal in Mission BioCapital. He focuses on investments in early-stage biopharmaceutical companies and launching company operations in collaboration with entrepreneurs through interim executive roles. He is a board member at Jupiter Bioventures and is a board observer at Nuvig Therapeutics and Telo Therapeutics. At MBC Biolabs, Zach supports startups in their San Francisco incubator labs as an Entrepreneur Success Partner. His training is in molecular biology & genetics where he applied genome editing, single-cell sequencing, and live-imaging tools to the study of stem-cell differentiation in the vertebrate embryo. While at Harvard Medical School, Zach co-authored work that was recognized by Science as 2018’s Breakthrough of the Year. Zach holds a Ph.D. in Biological and Biomedical Sciences from Harvard University and a B.S. in Biology from George Washington University.

Kanad Das joined Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund in 2018 and is located in the San Francisco Bay Area. He serves as Board Member of Oncomyx in Phoenix, Actym Therapeutics in Berkeley and Libra Therapeutics in San Diego.

Kanad joined Boehringer Ingelheim from Merck (MSD) where he was Director, Business Development and Licensing in their West Coast Innovation Hub. He evaluated assets in Immuno-Oncology, Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases and Ophthalmology in the preclinical space up to human proof of concept. Kanad started his career at Genentech as a post-doctoral fellow. He then worked as a medicinal chemist at KAI Pharmaceuticals, where he was an inventor of Parsabiv, approved in 2017 for the treatment of Secondary Hyperparathyroidism. After KAI, Kanad worked at Stanford University’s SPARK program, an academic accelerator designed to take basic science discoveries and bring them to fundable assets. He received his PhD in Chemistry from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a B.Sc. in Chemistry from UC Berkeley.

Neena Kadaba, an entrepreneur in residence at ATP, is a science-driven investor with 15 years of experience building novel collaborations and partnerships to drive innovation. Most recently, Neena was a Director at Quark Venture, where she served on the board of Eyevensys, IOME BIO, Calcimedica, and EyeYon on behalf of the Global Health Sciences Fund and led diligence for a number of additional investments. Previously, she was the Director of Strategic Partnerships at QB3, an institute at the University of California, where she created new programs to accelerate startups and worked with QB3’s venture fund, Mission Bay Capital. Prior to QB3, Neena was a Kauffman Fellow while she was an Associate in Venture Investment at Itochu Technology, Inc, the California office of Itochu, the Japanese trading company, and she began her career in venture at California Technology Ventures.

Neena received her PhD in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where she solved the structure of a novel membrane protein using x-ray crystallography and protein structure modeling. She received her undergraduate and masters’ degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in chemistry and bioengineering, respectively.

Adriana Tajonar is a Vice President of Life Sciences Investing within Goldman Sachs Asset Management. Previously, Adriana was Head of External Innovation at insitro, a company utilizing machine learning and high-throughput biology for drug discovery. Before that, Adriana was a Principal at The Column Group (TCG), a life sciences venture capital firm. In her role, she focused on ideation, formation, and launch of several companies in the TCG portfolio, and served as board director or observer of several companies. Prior to that, Adriana was Entrepreneurship Program Manager at QB3 (California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences) where she managed the Startup in a Box Program. In this role, she evaluated and guided over 200 teams of scientists from top institutions in California towards starting companies in the life sciences.

Adriana obtained her PhD in the laboratory of Prof. Douglas Melton at Harvard University and earned a BS in Biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


James Huie is a corporate and securities partner in Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati’s San Francisco office, where he has one of the most active practices in the country representing venture-backed companies. He advises life sciences and technology companies on general corporate matters, mergers and acquisitions, initial public offerings, strategic partnerships, and private equity and debt financings. He also has extensive experience in representing venture capital firms and other investors in private equity and debt financings.

James also serves on the investment committee for the firm’s affiliated fund, the WS Investment Company.

Matt Kovac is an associate in the San Francisco office of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where he practices corporate and securities law. Prior to attending law school, Matt worked in the legal departments of several Bay Area tech companies.