Epizyme Execs Share the Secret to a Successful IPO: PowerBars
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enter into a partnership like the [one with] Celgene that not only provided significant capital and access to their development capabilities, but also allowed us to retain all of the U.S. [rights to our drugs]. The decision to take the Celgene path was really a very important decision to build the business, and we really recognized at that time that that would mean that we would need to go public at some point to fund the company.
X: Once you recognized that you were headed towards an IPO, how did you lay the groundwork for the offering?
Robert Gould: Very soon after the [Celgene partnership] was announced, we actually began meeting with analysts and potential investors in New York, Boston, and out on the West Coast. Because our story is new, and because the science is very much emerging, that year and a half of work that we put in before we filed our IPO was really critical to telling our story. We met with many investors or analysts three or four times over the last couple of years. While that may not be surprising, that effort, I think, really paid dividends for us in that we knew many of the investors before we started the IPO process. That early investment in building relationships is critical.
JR: It meant that they were able to really follow the story, understand our strategy, and meet the leadership team. It’s very hard to imagine that you could just launch a road show and that that would be sufficient to have a successful IPO.
X: Your road show was a six-day tour between Boston, New York, Chicago, and the West Coast that wrapped around Memorial Day weekend. Why did you choose to run it in that fashion?
JR: We made a deliberate decision to try to go out before [the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting] if we could. You obviously only control these things up to some point, but we recognized that there was a bowl of some companies coming along [planning to go public], and that it would make sense to go out ahead of that.
RG: And ASCO always generates a lot of news flow—we wanted to come out ahead of that, to be in front of the investors before their attention turned to other public company investments they might have that had news coming out at ASCO.
X: What was the road show like?
RG: We’d start with teleconferences as early as 6:30 in the morning with European investors from our hotel room, or a conference room, or even from the car, and the days would end with the last meeting around 6 or 7 in the evening. Then we’d head to the airport in order to get to the next city, or in the case of the East Coast, certainly the train station to get to the next city to start again at 6:30 the next morning.
X: What types of meetings would take place?
JR: There are meetings with investors you already know, meetings with new investors, and group meetings. The meetings with new investors are the most grueling, because they’re anywhere from half an hour to 45 or 50 minutes at most. And so you’re trying to tell your whole story, introduce people to a new area of science, talk about your clinical programs, the data that you have to date, your future plans, your financing strategy—it’s an awful lot to cram into that tight timeframe. And that’s another place where the investment we made in meeting so many investors well ahead of the IPO process paid off. Probably the majority of the people we [saw] we had already met with, so we were really having a dialogue about the current state of the business, or talking about a specific question that someone had, or an aspect of the future strategy. And those were, in some ways, much more engaging discussions to have.
X: What type of investors did you meet with, and what were the differences in the types of questions they asked?
RG: There’s two big buckets of investors that I’d say we met with. The first were those who are really healthcare investors. They know the healthcare field, and they know the oncology space very well. They were particularly interested in … Next Page »