Follica Gets New CEO, Gears Up for More (Hair and Business) Growth
Follica, the Boston-area startup out to bring a scientific approach to helping hair-loss sufferers re-grow their locks, is preparing for some new growth of its own. The firm, run since its late 2006 inception by founding CEO Daphne Zohar of Boston’s PureTech Ventures, announced today the hiring of a new president and CEO, William Ju, a biopharmaceutical veteran with experience in an array of therapeutic arenas, including dermatology (he is a board certified dermatologist). The selection of Ju seems to position the firm to move out of the purely research-focused stage and closer to becoming a drug development company.
“There’s just a lot of excitement with regard to the science, and to the progress that’s been made,” Ju says of Follica’s work to date. “When I heard about the opportunity, I was really delighted with it, given my background as a dermatologist, given what I think is really breakthrough research.” And he says he looks forward to “bringing the company through to its next developmental stages.”
For her part, Zohar put it this way in a statement: “We are thrilled to welcome Bill Ju as the CEO of Follica. He brings the ideal blend of dermatology and drug development experience, creativity and leadership skills to Follica in this next exciting phase of development.”
What, exactly, Follica’s next step is—and when it will occur—is of intense interest to many of Xconomy’s readers, who struck up an often-spirited conversation on the site after we reported Follica’s $5.5 million Series A round in January 2008 and continued the discussion after the startup’s $11 million Series B funding last August. A lot of the talk in these comments has been centered on a 15 to 20 patient proof of concept study that Follica launched to put its follicle-generating approach to the test. Zohar confirmed the study’s existence last August, but the company has not provided other details on its progress—other than to stick to a general timeline laid out in January 2008 that no results would be available for at least a year. Depending on how you count, and when exactly the trial began, that year is either up or close to being up.
Which might or might not have something to do with Ju’s hiring. When I asked him about the trial, Ju, who started on May 1 and is still getting up to speed, was understandably vague. “The trial is … Next Page »