Q&A with William Hagstrom
Oklahoma biotech entrepreneur to offer tips on building business
Q: You will lead a session at the Oklahoma BioSummit on March 26 at the Skrivin Hilton Hotel. What will be your message to the audience?
A: The talk will be titled “Keys to Success in Building a Biotech Business.” I will focus on assessing technology opportunities, framing market potential, the criticality of defining the business model, developing the scientific and technical path forward, mapping the path to commercialization, identifying the right talent, the importance of understanding risk mitigation/inflection points and capital raising insights, as well as the path to ultimate liquidity. I will also discuss the criticality of passion, purpose and persistence in the entrepreneurial journey.
Q: What does the recent $270 million acquisition of Crescendo by Myriad Genetics mean to Oklahoma as far as the founders/original investors are concerned?
A: The company, which provides molecular testing for better management of autoimmune and other inflammatory diseases, was founded as a technology transfer from the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. This success is a further testament to the quality and strength of science at Oklahoma research institutes and academic centers. As OMRF is an equity holder and has a royalty stream from intellectual property derived in collaboration with the OMRF, there is a positive economic impact to the institution. Additionally, a number of Oklahoma-based seed stage investors will benefit from their support of the company.
Q: How has Crescendo evolved since relocating to California?
A: Since moving to the Bay Area, we recruited an experienced management team, developed our first product, launched and scaled commercial operations and rapidly penetrated the rheumatology market. We also raised four rounds of venture capital. Over the last six years, the employee base expanded from one to 130. In 2013, the company was recognized on the Inc. 500 and Deloitte Fast 500 for our growth rate, as well as the Red Herring 100 for innovation and Frost & Sullivan for Best in Class for Diagnostics.
Q: What is your assessment of the state of Oklahoma’s bioscience industry now that you are seeing it from a distance?
A: I have long held the view that there is excellent science and technology in Oklahoma from which to form biotech companies, as well as tremendous resources like i2E, the Research Park, Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and a community with significant commitment and resolve to succeed in this important sector. Challenges are in the areas of capital formation and expansion through each stage of build-out, as well as access to a broad and deep pool of talent with previous industry experience. These are addressable issues.
PAULA BURKES, BUSINESS WRITER