all the information, none of the junk | biotech • healthcare • life sciences

BIO 2014: Training Bio-Entrepreneurs to Use Coffee, Yoga, and Data


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give you more confidence in your own thinking (versus following a formula that is no longer relevant).

Yoga has become one way that I can regularly process the chaos of work into useful thoughts and actions. I find running also serves that purpose; on my own without the risk of a distraction. For some reason, I am more organizing with my thoughts when I am in motion. Without this important commitment of my week, I don’t think the information I gather from networking and interacting with employees and business partners would be put to best use.

What do you get from such processing? A Plan.

Execute (Data)

If you can’t execute, you can’t be an entrepreneur. I have always viewed entrepreneurship as a test of your ability to find the idea among the chaos of information. You can network and reflect every day of the week, but without execution that produces robust data, you have accomplished nothing. There are many people who are good at networking and/or discussing ideas. There are many people who are good at executing a specific plan. But if you want to be an impactful entrepreneur, you have to be able to do all three, all of the time. And that plan has to be yours.

Things do not move sequentially in the biopharma business; they move like a hurricane. New information and problems come from all directions, and they can be relentlessly brutal. When I am hiring for a portfolio company, I am looking for someone who likes to play in the hurricane, not avoid it. The data for a drug development program must advance despite the myriad issues that will inevitably arise without warning.

In the life sciences, we win or lose on the data. So executing on the science is imperative. Through your leadership, the company must generate data in a superior manner and on a demanding timeline. If the company is unable to do that, the window to advance the program or sell the asset may be lost. The execution is never about the coordinated steps to a conclusion; it is the creativity of the steps that came from the right conversations and the requisite processing to do things right the first (or second) time. The only thing worse than bad data is bad data from a poorly planned experiment. No excuse for that.

What do you get from successful execution? Credibility.

I don’t believe there is a single formula for success in biotech innovation. But you can begin to identify basic activities that should contribute to progress and eventual success. Although the success will be defined by a commercial market, the ways in which you forge ahead will be more personal than you think. Coffee, yoga, and data work for me, but every entrepreneur should find his or her own way. Good things can happen if you develop your own daily routine for networking, processing, and executing.

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Court Turner joined San Diego’s Avalon Ventures in 2008 as an advisor and became a venture partner in 2010. He is a lawyer, and currently serves as the chief executive of Avalon portfolio companies Synthorx and Carolus Therapeutics, and as the chief operating officer at two other Avalon companies, Sova Pharmaceuticals and Avelas Biosciences. Follow @

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