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Funding insights from Guus Scheefhals

On July 20, I joined the FFUND team as business expert. FFUND helps innovative life sciences companies with their strategic funding efforts. My role as a business expert is to support the consultants as well as our clients to devise the strategy and generate the best business plans and funding applications.

Always looking for the next financing option

The biotech sector is unique in the sense that we typically don’t have sales or revenues. Instead, biotech is funded by investors and grant money that cover each time a part of the development plan. This is an iterative process and means that you are always on the lookout for additional financing. To convince investors and get grants, you need to have an ambitious proposition and an attractive value potential. Investors receive hundreds of pitch decks and business plans every year, so you’d better make sure yours stands out from the crowd. Having support from experienced people helps to reduce your efforts in this ongoing search for money and increases your chance of success. This is exactly what my role at FFUND entails.

Know the insights from the industry

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” This is an African proverb that, in my opinion, is very relevant to biotech entrepreneurs. Having people around you who can serve as a sounding board and challenge whether you are on the right track is critical for success. Advice from experts and experienced entrepreneurs prevents you from stepping into pitfalls and significantly reduces your risk of failure. Contacting investors too early or too late and destroying the patentability of your ideas by publication or sharing without a confidentiality agreement are just a few examples. Having multiple perspectives is another benefit of working as a team. This is a lesson that I learned at Avantium where we worked with a diverse, multicultural team with people from more than 25 countries. Having these discussions takes time, of course, but always provides new, valuable insights. Another lesson learned is to stay optimistic and maintain belief in your mission. People will tell you that your innovation or technology will never work, and you must be prepared to accept that some doors to funding will remain closed. Surround yourself with a critical but supportive team and stay focused.

The secret of a good business plan

The challenge in our field is to present a compelling plan without turning it into a sales pitch. A good business plan in the biotech industry presents an innovative solution to a compelling problem. What does your technology or product mean to patients? How can it change their lives? Or what is the impact on society and the healthcare industry? Real impact will help convince investors that your company is worth investing in. Take them along and make them enthusiastic about your story.

About Guus

Guus started his career at the Radboud hospital after studying Pharmacy at Utrecht University. Since the dynamics of a business environment attracted him more, he decided to continue his career in industry. He worked at several companies, providing a broad range of services and products to the pharmaceutical and biotech industry. In 2003, Guus joined Avantium, an Amsterdam based biotech company, and became a member of the management team. In 2010, Guus took on the challenge of becoming CEO of a biotech company that focused on the development of medicines for Alzheimer’s disease. For the past few years, Guus has been working as an independent entrepreneur, as a CEO, and as a consultant for biotech companies concerning strategy and business development.

Guus Scheefhals

Would you like to know if your proposition seals the deal? Contact me at guus.scheefhals@ffund.nl