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Life After Start-Up Stadium: OmniCyte

May 31, 2017
For the third year, the BIO International Convention will host the 2017 BIO Start-Up Stadium Empowering the Cutting-Edge Companies of Tomorrow, Today – an exciting and interactive experience where investors provide live feedback and judge 5-7 minute pitches presented by start-up biotech companies. The Start-Up Stadium accepts applications from early-stage companies with breakthrough technologies, and invites investors and state and regional affiliates to engage and explore mutual opportunities. Participating companies receive access to BIO One-on-One Partnering™ and educational sessions making their experience at BIO like no other.

[caption id="attachment_25456" align="alignleft" width="200"] Peter Leonard, CEO and Founder of OmniCyte[/caption]

This is the fifth in a series of guest blogs highlighting Start-Up Stadium success stories as told by former participants. Today we spoke with 2016 Alum, Peter Leonardi, Ph.D., MBA, CEO and Founder of OmniCyte.

BTN: Can you tell us about your start-up?

OmniCyte is a pre-clinical biotech company addressing significant unmet needs in cancer. We have developed a novel Immuno-Oncology platform technology that selectively activates the cancer immune system (natural killer (NK) cells, dendritic cells (DC), CD8 T cells, and memory T cells) to target, infiltrate and destroy specific tumor types, without activating unrelated immune elements, which can cause immunotoxic side effects. Our technology can be engineered to safely attack numerous different tumor types. Our first two indications are ovarian cancer and small cell lung cancer.

BTN: Was the Start-Up Stadium platform able to assist you in gaining visibility?

Start-Up Stadium gave us the ability to present our company and technology to educate potential investors and partners by fielding questions in response to our presentation. In particular, we were able to invite those that we met at the conference - through BIO One-on-One Partnering™ meetings and elsewhere - to hear our pitch and listen to the value others found in our technology. The later was tremendously valuable! It gave interested investors confirmation while allowing us the opportunity to address any potential concerns. One year later, we have been funded by Angel investors, an Angel investment group and two state agencies, all of whom were at the BIO International Convention.

BTN: Did you receive constructive live feedback at the Start-Up Stadium from stakeholders and subject matter experts?

Through the Q&A session, we discovered a disconnect between our pitch and the message we were trying to get out. Even though we were not in the clinic yet, we found that investors were concerned with our knowledge and strategy in relation to manufacturing and regulation. Since then, we have incorporated this feedback to address these initial concerns. Now when we pitch our company to investors there is a deeper level of comfort they might not have had before receiving the feedback we did at Start-Up Stadium.

BTN: How have you implemented any feedback to achieve success and continued growth?

It’s worth saying again – we have a more polished pitch addressing concerns from the Stadium and other sessions. Through these improvements, we have refined the company’s strategy and have gained investments that will lead us to the next value inflection point.

BTN: Were your BIO One-on-One Partnering™ meetings successful? Did they generate valuable connections with potential for meaningful partnerships?

This was the most valuable part of the experience. We met many potential investors and partners. While we did not experience an immediate partnership or investment, we are building relationships with many groups and individuals that we met. It is very likely that we will work with several of them in the future.

BTN: Although no longer eligible to participate in the Start-Up Stadium, will you be returning the 2017 BIO International Convention?

Yes, we will be at the 2017 BIO International Convention to follow-up with previous connections and make new ones.