Angel investing plays an important part in the biotech ecosystem, providing much needed early stage capital to startups. One of the more recognizable players in the angel investing sector is Landmark Angels based in Greenwich, Connecticut. We thought it would be useful to have a quick chat with Bill Podd, President and Executive Director of Landmark about his organization prior to the BioPharm America™ event next week where he will be speaking on the Alternative Financing panel.
partneringNEWS (PN): Landmark Angels focuses on funding emerging and early stage biotech. What type of investments are you currently looking to make?
Bill Podd (BP): Landmark Angels, an affiliate of Landmark Capital, was established in 2008 to provide equity capital from its high net-worth investor members and offers the additional possibility of syndicating the round with other angel groups nationwide in aggregate amounts larger than USD 1 million of equity capital by actively engaging with leading members of the angel investment community in the United States. Our evaluation and investment strategy differs from many other angel groups as we consider ‘best of breed’ companies from all regions, place no maximum cap on valuations and look to syndicate investments with other angel groups in an effort to provide sufficient capital.
PN: Do you invest outside the US?
BP: We invest throughout the US and now in Europe and Asia. We look for 2–3 times the returns in a 5–7 year period. We partner with our angel affiliate groups and certain venture capital funds for subsequent investment. We also have significant relationships with pharma.
PN: How can a biotech company position itself to get your attention, with an eye to gaining a meeting with Landmark Angels?
BP: We look for developing scientific trends within the biotech sectors. So we invested in stem cells and vaccine companies early on.
We are currently looking at the personalized medicine approach through genomics, gene editing and immunology. We look for companies with broad platforms where applicable, especially in the cancer space. We invest early stage but prefer companies conducting clinical trials. We look for serial entrepreneurs and strong management teams, board of directors and scientific advisory boards. We look for participation by strategic partners where possible to help with validation.
PN: Who are the investor members of Landmark?
BP: Landmark Angels members include current and former principals of Fortune 2500 companies, asset and hedge fund managers, successful entrepreneurs, and high net worth individual investors. The group also includes over 125 Family Offices (ultra-high net worth investors), one of the largest affiliations of any angel group in the United States.
PN: What are key investment parameters that your angel investors generally looking for in an investment?
BP: Our angel investors look for those deals which, in their judgment, will have a liquidity event in a 4–5 year time horizon from the date of initial investment. Naturally, they must have sufficient knowledge of the company's industry, key competitors, the likelihood of the company achieving its revenue projections and historic exit multiples, in order to increase the probability of the exit occurring within this time frame.
Of particular importance to our angel investors is market validation of the potential investment opportunity. For example, does the company already have key customers? What are the prospects for those customers to place substantial orders in the near term? When evaluating a biotech company's prospects, for example, where it is unlikely to have any customers, not only must the market for the therapeutic be scrutinized, but rigorous analysis of the clinical studies/trials of the therapeutic is of paramount importance.
PN: Landmark Angels recently changed its name, adding “and Family Office.” What does that signify to your operations and to the biotech firms you work with?
The Landmark Family Office is a member investment network of over 125 leading US and International Family Offices. The Landmark Family Office Alliance builds syndicates to pursue best-in-class alternative asset sector opportunities in both direct investments and select funds. Additionally, the Alliance provides educational and networking segments at monthly meetings where expert speakers and panelists discuss Family Office and industry topics. Our Family Offices have access to filtered deal flow within the Alternative Asset sector, including M&A, Private Equity, Venture, Real Estate, Real Assets and other sub-sectors. The members of Landmark Family Office, in addition to investing across all major venture sectors, engage in social impact investing in healthcare, energy and education opportunities with an aim to positively impact society while also generating an economic return. This has become a significant part of the mission of the Office.
As well, Landmark holds industry specific events in the consumer, digital media, IOT, technology, energy and healthcare sectors.