Networking on Steroids: Early stage entrepreneurs speed date with investors at RESI in San Francisco
By Marie Daghlian
You have 30 minutes per meeting, enough time to make your pitch, find out if there is a potential connection, and move on to the next meeting. It’s networking on steroids and it works for many of those who participate in RESI, or Redefining Early Stage Investments.
RESI makes it easy to partner and quickly allow early stage life sciences entrepreneurs to quickly identify whether an investor is interested in their technology or product. Held on January 12th in San Francisco, the meeting was a beehive of activity. As many as 1,000 people packed onto two floors of the Marines’ Memorial Club & Hotel with the main purpose of either raising money for their companies or funding exciting new ideas.
Thirty companies also showcased their technology with poster displays and participated in an innovation challenge with attendees rewarding the companies they deemed most interesting by investing their “RESI cash”, which they received when they registered. MyndBlue, a digital health/device startup based in Paris and Cambridge, MA, that won second place in the contest, was formally presenting its technology to a sizable group of investors for the first time.
“We chose to participate in the RESI event because of its focus on early-stage companies,” said MyndBlue CEO Dr. Denis Fompeyrine. “In particular, we were very pleased that early-stage investors were quickly able to comprehend the value proposition for MyndBlue, that our mHealth solution alerts physicians with early-warning signs from their PTSD or Major Depressive Disorder patients. MyndBlue thus represents a potentially transformational paradigm for treating mental health disorders.”
“A great event!” he added.
RESI attendees were about equally divided between seed and early stage companies—biotech, medical devices, digital and healthcare IT, and investors—venture capital, corporates, angel investors, family offices, private investors, private equity, venture philanthropy, and global investors interested in early stage companies.
RESI also held workshops throughout the day that “give you the nuts and bolts of how to go about looking for money,” said Mark Spiekler, founder and CEO of Sharklet Technologies, a company that uses textures inspired by the skin of sharks to not only control bacterial growth on devices, but also to stimulate cell growth for wound care.
Spiekler has been a constant attendee of RESI conferences. “What I like about RESI is that they provide a format where you can quickly identify whether people are interested in what you are selling or not,” Spiekler says. “I really like the rapid fire and the rhythm.”
He says he has recommended the conference to about 30 people and about 25 of them have had success at the meeting. “They are very upfront about their mission of helping people connect for funding,” Spiekler says. “You can quickly find out if an investor is interested or not.” And time is money.
It works, says Dennis Ford, founder and CEO of Life Science Nation (LSN), the creator of RESI. The “beehive” of activity is palatable. Surveys he has taken from past meetings show that about 20 percent of his clients report getting funded through connections made through RESI and Life Science Nation. “The RESI vibe brings down the walls and barriers and everybody is talking and meeting and it’s just a really open and accepting crowd,” Ford says.
Ford has spent a long career launching new companies around disruptive technologies. He launched Life Science Nation about five years ago because he saw a need for a more efficient way for early stage companies to identify potential investors and vice versa. Besides the RESI conference series — which is held every 45 days between JPM/BioWeekSF, Toronto, San Diego, Boston and New York City — LSN offers two curated databases that capture both the asset “buy side” (ten categories of 5,000 early stage global investors and partners), and the “sell side” (39,000 early stage drug, device, diagnostic and healthcare IT companies).