Todd Zion, PhD, Repeat Founder - Magical Proteins


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Repeat biotech founder Todd Zion on SmartCells (acquired by Merck for $500MM) and his current venture Akston Bio which is doing cool things with proteins. Todd has valuable insights on VC funding, angel investing and founding teams. This interview’s a peach!

  • Intro of Todd Zion, PhD Co-Founder of SmartCells (Merck) and Akston Bio
  • Todd Zion Was Fascinated by the Potential of Polymers to Do Powerful Things
  • Smart Drug Delivery – Making Insulin Adapt to Blood Glucose Levels
  • “…then got bitten by the bug, like I said, of the entrepreneurial spirit that runs quite strong through MIT.”
  • “…with SmartCells, we made a conscious effort to build a company that could be capital efficient and achieve what angels want out of an investment…”
  • Jeff Behrens’ Experience at Siamab Is Discussed
  • Todd Zion Is Leery of Raising Big Money Because It Raises Costs
  • “…you should always be betting on the jockey and not necessarily the horse.”
  • “Sometimes you may throw out really good ideas, due to a lack of resources.”
  • “…anyone with ten million spends the last million better than the first nine.”
  • “ a venture-funded world, there's a huge amount of price inflation.”
  • “…if anyone wants a job at Akston, you can get a covered garage parking in the winter.”
  • Akston’s Basic Technology: Coupling a Protein to an Antibody to Enhance the Function of the Protein
  • Reversing the Body’s Autoimmune Response to Insulin Which Causes Type 1 Diabetes.
  • The Importance of a GMP (good manufacturing practices) Facility of Your Own
  • Creating an Ultra Long-Acting Insulin for Dogs & Cats
  • Akston Pivoted to Making a Protein-Based COVID Vaccine
  • From the Design of the Molecule to Human Trials Took Only 11 Months
  • Advantages of Protein-Based Vaccines: Easy to Make, Easy to Store and Contain No Genetic Components
  • Akston’s Protein-Based Vaccine Is Expected to Be as Effective as J&J’s
  • Parting Thoughts from Todd Zion
  • If It’s Easy and Obvious You’re Probably Doing It Wrong
  • Advice Applies to Angel Investors as Well
  • Making Money Is Important But, You Need Deeper Motivation or You’ll Quit
  • Repeat Founding Teams Can Be Really Powerful – The Blues Brothers

Topics: biotech, partnerships with strategics, venture capital, co-founders, angel investing strategies

206 episodes