Entrepreneurial Journeys of the 2018-19 Blavatnik Fellows

Entrepreneurial Journeys of the 2018-19 Blavatnik Fellows


[MUSIC PLAYING] It’s been a
phenomenal six months. The fellowship definitely
helps us as entrepreneurs to take the first leap of faith. X-COR Therapeutics is a
medical device company creating a novel platform
for removing CO2 out of patient bloodstreams. The second half
of this fellowship is really geared
towards acceleration. We have science that’s proven
in a preclinical data set and approved by
experts in the field. Now it’s time for
us to accelerate through our first human trials. Our product is really
going to change our market and change the care
pathway for our patients. And they see us as kind of
the beachhead for that change and are really open
to working with us. I can’t say enough for
Peter’s mentorship. He’s the one who takes
several hours out of his week in order to sit with
us, do monthly updates, listen to how we’ve
performed our work, and give us slight nudges. What’s this fellowship about? I kind of describe it
as a risk-free year of being able to
be an entrepreneur. I am in the process of
founding a new venture that will focus on developing
therapeutics for treating neurodegenerative diseases. The Blavatnik Fellowship
network has really allowed me to make things move
faster than they would have initially. So we’re halfway
through the fellowship, and we at Valera Health are
landing two new clients. The biggest news, though, is
that we’re doing this pivot to provide clinical services. This would mean in addition
to the technology platform, we would hire our own
psychiatrists and our own care managers and our
own psychologists. We’re raising another
$5 million right now to build out these
clinical services, and the mentors through
the Blavatnik Fellowship have been super
helpful to connect us with potential investors. Our mission is to reinvent how
mental health care is delivered for millions of Americans. That’s always at the
end as a carrot that’s attracting us to put in more
time, put in more effort, put in less sleep. Being an entrepreneur
takes a lot of courage and it takes a ton of grit. There are definitely
days where I wonder to myself, why
did I make this decision? The Blavatnik Fellowship has
given me a lot of confidence. Since the start
of the fellowship, I have transitioned from
being the CEO and founder of InfiniteMD, which was a
international medical second opinion online. I stepped down from
the CEO position believing that it was the
right time for me to move on to the next project. So I founded a company
called Kalea Wear. My plan is for this
new company to sell anti-microbial/anti-stain
medical scrubs. I can’t see myself just
being a 9:00 to 5:00 doctor. I see myself really trying to
change the way systems work. It’s just been so exciting to
be part of something that’s greater than you. The whole reason I came
to Harvard Business School and the work that we’re
doing through the fellowship is for my brother. Duchenne muscular
dystrophy is terrible, but to watch your own brother
suffer from it is something that words can’t quite define. The fellowship itself
has been a true catalyst to moving forward our
development efforts, both on the biotech side as
well as the foundation side. We’ve established a
scientific advisory board comprising some of the
finest minds in the space. Success is a simple definition–
either he survives the disease or he doesn’t. You can do research
in a lab all day and never, never meet a patient. But to see an individual who’s
suffering with the disease and know that, oh, this
research that I’m doing directly impacts this person I
think goes a long way. Time’s the biggest and
scarcest resource out there. The fact that we have
as fellows a year to be able to devote to
our respective causes is something that’s
truly a gift. [MUSIC PLAYING]

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