An Interview with Jason Goldstein, co-founder of NG Bio
“It’s got nothing to do with me”, Jason says with assured modesty. He is responding to us congratulating him on assembling a team of experts at NG Bio. They are a biotech venture builder specialising in autoimmune disease and chronic inflammation. The team consists of specialists, from scientists to business leaders that have built years of collective trust across the industry. As we find out, this is typical for a man who is clearly determined to help patients…
NG Bio transforming the traditional approach
Traditional VC models provide capital to various types of research organisations. However, NG Bio is much more as they bring a team to work alongside organisations to help them scale. The benefits are clear. Too often the industry sees intellectual property sold early to Big Pharma. Alternatively, scientists without experience in business, try to set up a new venture. Working with NG Bio offers a third way.
Unlike the “Third Way” of Blair’s Labour, this idea is void of spin doctors and rhetoric. With NG Bio, research is nurtured in a more agile setting. NG Bio also takes care of many business functions that can add high costs to small enterprises, allowing founders to focus on what matters most, creating therapies. As Jason acknowledges, “many companies fail because of bad decisions at the beginning.” This is where NG Bio can help.
How do start-ups build trust and visibility?
“It’s their experience – they have built the trust, not me”, Jason explains. He is referring to the all-star team as we move onto the topic of building trust and visibility. At Antlerzz, we are on a mission to stop misinformation, and it is clear trust is one antidote.
Despite Jason’s modesty, he has clearly played a role in identifying the right talent and building a talented team is not enough on its own. We ask Jason what NG Bio does to build trust. How can entrepreneurs trust them? How do they know if the organisations they work with are legitimate?
Jason pauses thoughtfully. He explains “it is hard because building trust as a new organisation takes time”. They spread their net far and wide as a team to be more visible. It helps them identify the best entrepreneurs and ideas and this has led them to engage leading academics outside of the typical institutions. This illustrates an organisation that lives by its values of thinking out-of-the-box thinking. Their ultimate goal is to achieve the best patient outcomes.
In addition, NG Bio has been building a bank of knowledge. This repository contains information on diseases within the company’s focus. In return, it helps build assets and information which makes NG Bio more credible.
As a knowledge-led organisation, they also undertake a rigorous due diligence process. This is undertaken on every technology or founding team. The processes are deeply analytical and include a review of the research in question. This review includes comparing it to existing published materials alongside seeking counsel from key opinion leaders.
When we ask Jason how aligned his “gut” feeling is with the outcome of NG Bio’s investment decisions, he smiles. He looks at us like we have asked if the world is flat. He digresses into a discussion about issues in decision-making, not anchored in data. “The data shows people are fundamentally biased” he argues. That is why the company seeks out data to inform any decision that is made. In short, trust is built because facts are valued over beliefs.
Building online trust is not as easy as you may think
NG Bio does not invest on a whim. However, to be successful, it is critical that people hear about them and the organisations they work with.
At the moment marketing is not core to the business, but Jason acknowledges this needs to change. The lack of focus on online marketing is due to NG Bio still being in the start-up. Building an online presence takes time. This includes optimising your website and getting crawled by search engines. In addition, developing a social media following is not a straightforward task. It requires insights and resources.
For now, building in-person connections are critical to ensure NG Bio moves forward. Jason accepts that this is likely to change in the future, and is already thinking ahead.
Why marketing for the masses is important for biotechs
As part of a recent website re-brand, NG Bio has tried to simplify its messaging and interestingly, has included a ‘Patients’ section on its website. This is a strategic move that acknowledges the need to communicate the benefits of their work to a wide audience.
After all, the more visible an organisation is, the more valuable it is. By developing content aimed at patients, NG Bio can bring the attention of their work to the masses. If done correctly it can have profound benefits.
However, creating content for the masses is not just about increasing value. Jason is on a mission: “patient literacy is really low. 50% don’t understand the disease they have”. By creating this type of content, NG Bio is determined to be more than an investment house. Using their data and insights, they also want to help the lives of many by giving them access to information.
We ask Jason how he intends to share this information. He pauses, giving himself time to provide a thoughtful answer. He believes the key is to have a strong content strategy. This means organisations must understand their various stakeholders. On one side, NG Bio and its partner organisations have to cater to the needs of a very technical audience. On the other side, they will need to translate scientific insights for the masses. How this content is shared will likely depend on the platform and the audience that is there. A LinkedIn user will be interested in different content than an Instagram user. Both audiences are highly valuable.
Progress and discoveries
As we prepare to wrap up our interview with Jason, he asserts his strategic focus lies only on building a better route for therapeutic development. In the next 10 years, he hopes this will have led to several discoveries reaching the clinical stage. That is success. With his quiet modesty and laser-sharp focus, that is a real probability.