Purdue wants to be Startup U. They are already the #3 university in the US for producing startups, right behind MIT and Columbia. One of my favorite companies, Savran Technologies, came out of Purdue. I spoke with Wade Lange of Purdue Foundry which is responsible for promoting startups at Purdue. Several interesting Purdue startups were discussed.
- Sal Daher Welcomes Listeners and Introduces Wade Lange from Purdue Foundry
- Wade Lange Was Introduced by Çağrı Savran of “One Cell in a Billion” Fame
- On Savran Tech: “It’s a promising technology. I mean, it’s all about capturing really, really rare cells.”
- Purdue, being a Land Grant College Combines and Excellent School of Agriculture with a Top Engineering Program
- “…good news for Purdue. We were ranked number three in the country in the number of startup companies in the period of 2008 to 2018 behind your own MIT and Columbia…”
- “We called it Firestarter, it’s a nine week-long program, pretty intense, but it really is kind of the basics of business.”
- DDX Accelerator Program – All About Identifying & Removing Obstacles
- “Marc Andreessen said it some years ago that software is eating the world. It actually now is biotech that’s eating the world.”
- Professor Phillip Low, Founder of Endocyte, Launching an Antiviral Company
- SpeechVive Helps Patients with Parkinson’s Disease Communicate Reliably
- Spensa Technologies Is Applying Machine Vision to Identifying Insects, Weeds and Other Problems in Agriculture
- Perceive Inc. Helps Retailers Identify Patterns in Stores
- Sal Daher Talks About His Investment Syndicate
- Wade Lange’s Entrepreneurial Journey
- “I would rather be a big fish in a small pond was my thinking. So, I joined a startup was started by a couple of faculty members, at Purdue.”
- How Wade Lange Came to the Purdue Foundry
- “Purdue’s President Daniels wants Purdue to be known as startup U, okay.”
- Sal Daher Makes a Plug for Purdue as a Great Place to Be an Undergrad
- “…my connection to Çağrı came because of my brother-in-law. My brother-in-law is a patent attorney at Fish and Richardson.”
- “…founding entrepreneurs who have deep relationships with 25 other founders, 10 industry experts, and eight investors. They had double the revenue growth of founders who didn’t.”
- Wade Lange on the Advantages of Growing Your Startup Near Purdue
Startups at Purdue
GUEST: WADE LANGE OF PURDUE FOUNDRY
Sal Daher Welcomes Listeners and Introduces Wade Lange from Purdue Foundry
Sal Daher: Welcome to Angel Invest Boston, conversations with Boston’s most interesting founders and angels and other people who help build exciting companies. Well, today we’re going a little farther field than we normally do, in a sense that we tend to focus on companies and people in the Boston area. Today, I’m speaking with Wade Lange, who is in West Lafayette, Indiana home of Purdue University. Hey, Wade, greet the audience then.
Wade Lange: Hey, Sal, it is great to be here and greetings to everyone in Boston. Having been raised in the biotech industry, I’ve certainly had a lot of opportunities to come out to your fair city and meet with investors and companies.
Wade Lange Was Introduced by Çağrı Savran of “One Cell in a Billion” Fame
Sal Daher: We’re glad to have you glad to have you on Wade was introduced to me by my friend and the founder of Savran Technologies, Çağrı Savran I’m on the board of Savran. As a matter of fact, he’s been interviewed on this podcast. “One Cell in a Billion “is his podcast talking about the technology of his company. And Çağrı told me about Wade. Who’s been immensely helpful to him in helping start his entrepreneurial journey. And Wade is the Chief Entrepreneurial Officer at Purdue Foundry. We’ll get into a Purdue Foundry a little later in more detail and that Wade has a background in the life science industry and the pharmaceutical industry being where he is started out a Lilly. But then he branched out and he’s been in charge of a biotech that he had to raise money for. And he’s had lots and lots of experience in the field. And so he’s a tremendous person to talk to. And I’m going to ask, Wade to sort of tell us from his view, the Savran story.
Wade Lange: Sure. So Çağrı was educated as an undergraduate degree, at Purdue university in mechanical engineering, , came to Boston to MIT for his, , doctoral work. And once he finished that work, he came back to Purdue University as a professor. So he’s a professor in mechanical engineering, but he’s really been a great ambassador for entrepreneurship within the university. For those of you who might’ve met Çağrı , he is a very outgoing, great guy to be around and obviously brilliant scientist as well, given the work that he’s doing. So Çağrı realized one of the challenges that in general, we have in the Midwest and not just in West Lafayette, is that we lack for experienced entrepreneurs, especially in a field like biotechnology and Çağrı was great to get connected to you, to sit to you Sal and to others in the local ecosystem that helped him raise money. I think importantly helped him make a pivot in the end. I know you discussed this in your previous podcast.
Sal Daher: Actually, Wade in the podcast, the podcast is pre the pivot actually, I have to do an update podcast with Çağrı. I’m talking about the pivot. So maybe you can fill people in on the pivot.
Wade Lange: I’m not the best person to talk about it, but I can tell you what what’s been happening is that initially Çağrı was focused on an important disease, breast cancer, and just realized there was some technical or marketing challenge, really a market challenge to think there. And then they looked at really what the core of the technology and decided that the ability to detect disease and, basically in neonates identified diseases so that, they’re able to be, as I understand it, to be treated pre-birth,
On Savran Tech: “It’s a promising technology. I mean, it’s all about capturing really, really rare cells.”
Sal Daher: It’s a promising technology. I mean, it’s all about capturing really, really rare cells. And the first application that he had was capturing circulating tumor cells. And he got some signals from industry that capturing fetal cells might be particularly interesting. And so, you know, there’s a focus there, but I don’t think that the company has stopped working on circulating tumor cells. As a matter of fact, I think you want to toot the horn of the study that was recently published on… using the Savran technology of triple negative breast cancer and using Savran’s liquid biopsy to basically improve the ability to predict recurrence of cancer in women who have been treated for the worst type of breast cancer.
Wade Lange: Right. And not having read the journal, but it went from detecting 73%. I believe it was to 90% of cases. So really dramatic increase. We’ll probably talk about this later Sal,, but one of the really interesting things about this, and this is something that we encounter a lot when we’re working with early stage entrepreneurs or really academic founders, they’ve done their science in a given field, they believe that that’s the future of their technology, but when they get out and expose the idea to the marketplace, to whether it’s pharmaceutical or diagnostic companies, where clinicians also realize, Oh, you know what, what I thought was the original main use actually might not be the right one. And that’s just kind of fundamentally at the Foundry at Purdue. That’s what we try to. That’s a core part of what we try to do is make sure that our inventors and founders identify, you know, a big market that have a problem that they can solve,
Sal Daher: But the market discovery, being open to learning, I think, and this is what happened in the case of Savran. Conversations with strategic players quickly pointed in the direction of capturing fetal cells in maternal blood. There are many reasons why the people who are in the non-invasive prenatal testing space have an interest in the company. So, you know, it’s interesting when I interviewed Çağrı capturing fetal cells, was kind of like a glimmer in his eye. It was one of these things. Well, you know, you know, Sal, we can do circulating tumor cells. He’s very excitable because they were doing this major study with the University of Indiana Medical School, School of Medicine. And he says, but in addition to this, it’s not just circulating tumor cells. It’s also fetal cells, but he didn’t have really any, it was kind of like speculation, but now it’s very serious signals from industry that that’s a valuable technology. But there are other areas as well where Savran’s technology can have application.
Sal Daher: It’s a platform technology very broadly, applicable and sets. That’s one of the reasons I’m so excited about the company is exactly because of this. You were saying the use it’s the first use. The first use case is what they’re trying to zero in, but it is hoped that there will be many, many other use cases. I can imagine four or five, six, 10 different use cases for Savran’s technology. It’s a platform for capturing rare cells. So would you like to talk a little bit about the kind of support that Purdue Foundry and other people at Purdue… Çağrı has told me that Purdue is an extremely supportive place for faculty members seeking to commercialize their technology.
Wade Lange: Right.
Sal Daher: Give us an example of what the ecosystem that exists there.
Purdue, being a Land Grant College Combines and Excellent School of Agriculture with a Top Engineering Program
Wade Lange: So, Sal, let me tell you a little bit of background. As many of your listeners might not know a lot about Purdue University. Purdue is the land grant institution for Indiana. We are the only university in the country that has a top 10-rated agriculture school and college of engineering. So it’s a, it’s a very deep university in the sciences broadly, including the hard sciences, like mechanical engineering and materials and things like that. So very large institution. 33,000 undergrads, another 10, 12,000 graduate students at the university, you know, a very deep bench from which to pull research that has commercial potential, probably the story. I can tell you the best about the openness to Purdue. So first off what the university does to a lot of work with industry. So we’re, we’re very attuned to, to solving problems that exist. And that’s important. In 2013, Mitch Daniels joined Purdue University as the president of the university and Mitch, before that was governor of the State of Indiana, who was a senior executive at Eli Lilly & Company ran Reagan’s Office of Management Budget. So very talented executive,
Sal Daher: A particularly brainy executive. Yeah,
Wade Lange: Exactly. So Mitch came to the university and realized that there is this called an asset base. We have a very tremendous asset base of discoveries coming out of university. But at that point in time, we were probably averaging seven, eight companies per year eight, nine companies per year, that were created. He said from the get go that note, you know, this is important to us, the way we have impact as a university, one of the ways is through commercializing technologies. And so he made it institutionally acceptable and important for Purdue University to, to seek commercial paths and entrepreneurial paths. So within a year and a half, Purdue went from producing eight to nine companies to producing 22 to 25 companies every year, since then.
Sal Daher: Wow. Yeah.
Wade Lange: In fact, there was an article in a online magazine called IP Watchdog back in, I think it was in June.
“…good news for Purdue. We were ranked number three in the country in the number of startup companies in the period of 2008 to 2018 behind your own MIT and Columbia…”
Wade Lange: Yeah. They have good news for Purdue. We were ranked number three in the country in the number of startup companies in the period of 2008 to 2018 behind your own MIT and Columbia, the two leading institutions that Purdue was number three. In the previous article in the Wall Street, Journal number three, and then number six in the world. And for Purdue, they attributed our success to institutional leadership. And I think it’s very clear that when Mitch became president of the university, He brought along a colleague by the name of Dan Hasler from Lilly and who all spend in state government with Mitch, that they made it important and with dramatic effects. And so really trying to leverage that institutional interest. So what we do at the Foundry, our basic business model is that generally a professor, can be a graduate student, have an invention that they disclose and it becomes… Patents applied for, and simultaneously the faculty member raises his or her hand and says, I want to start a company.
Sal Daher: OK
“We called it Firestarter, it’s a nine week-long program, pretty intense, but it really is kind of the basics of business.”
Wade Lange: And that’s when we come into play, hopefully before that, we’ve been talking to them because if they’ve been thinking about doing this, but then we come in and help them. We don’t technically start the company, but we help the faculty members start to company. So we have some early training program. We called it Firestarter, it’s a nine week-long program, pretty intense, but it really is kind of the basics of business. And it starts really with a point we were talking about earlier that, you know, is there a customer who has a problem to be solved that they’re willing to pay, to have it solved? And really that’s a big leap, many times for our colleagues from academia to understand that, okay, really, you have to identify a customer as your first product, as you said, you’re hopefully have a platform and that can transform into multiple…
Sal Daher: Platform like the Holy grail. Many times it’s not a platform, it’s a technology that might lead to one therapy or something, right? Yeah.
Wade Lange: Exactly right. So we just help them understand what the, what the opportunity is and then kind of the basics of starting a business. And then, and then at the end of that program, they make a decision. Yes or no, we want to start a company. And then after that, we, we provide some coaching services, , we’ll help connect people to experienced executives in the industry. One of, a gentlemen by the name of Don Keeper, who’s a Purdue pharmacy graduate. Also a football player at Purdue back years ago has been, has successful life science degree. He said in the Boston area, just using Don as an example, we’re able to connect him to a couple of our company founders and provide some very insightful advice with them that helped them shape their program.
DDX Accelerator Program – All About Identifying & Removing Obstacles
Wade Lange: Going forward, the capstone program we have, we call it the double-down experiment cause we’re still experimenting with it. So DDX is the name of it. And this is where we enroll a small cohort of companies. We’ve had two cohorts so far I started last fall. We’ve had 15 companies get enrolled. In this case, it’s somewhat of an accelerator type program. We provide some more intensive mentoring, more connections to the industry. One of the things that makes it unique is when, when the company supplied to become part of the DDX program, we ask them to identify a problem that’s in the way, fundamentally of them making progress. Now, just using an example, one in the life sciences sector. It was a company was formed by a group of, at that time undergraduate students and they were developing a compression stocking with sensors embedded in it that could detect edema, impending ulcers was their desired use case. They’ve since pivoted away from healthcare and now looking at the athletic market. But so as they’re pursuing the regulatory or this, , raising money for the company, and these are, you know, these are 20 to 25 year old young men, you know, the older investors were saying, Hey, I’m not sure. I believe the 25 year old about what the regulatory path is, how we, how we are.
Sal Daher: Of course not. You know, if it’s just a software startup, maybe 25 year old or the 22 year old can get stuff done, but a life sciences, biotech requires gray-haired people.
Wade Lange: Right. Exactly. What we did for them is the obstacle in their way was, is this a 510 k or a de novo path for their… Which obviously has huge implications from a fundraising standpoint. So we found a experienced regulatory consultant in West Lafayette that put together their requests for determination letter. And so they’re able to now tell people definitively what the path is. So the end of the DDX program is really, it’s a pitch opportunity where ultimately what we’re trying to do is help people be prepared to pitch for money. At the end of the session, clearly embedded inside of the pitch is what’s the business plan. So the business model work with them on that as well. We also have three venture vehicles, , investment vehicles. One is life sciences specific. The other is industry agnostic. They both require they’re sidecar funds. They required institutional investor. And then we have another fund, which is first money and focused on ag-based companies, which you can imagine being here in the Midwest ag tech is very important. And the intersection really what’s interesting is the intersection between engineering and agriculture and precision treatments.
“Marc Andreessen said it some years ago that software is eating the world. It actually now is biotech that’s eating the world.”
Sal Daher: Biotech is eating the world. It’s, it’s eating, you know, ag tech as well. What’s become a cliche by now. You know, Marc Andreessen said it some years ago that software is eating the world. It actually now is biotech that’s eating the world. And every place, everything is being reinterpreted in the light of what’s some microfluidic chip or some gene editing technology or some, you know, something that comes from a lab can do. And things are just do better. You know, transfection cell separation. As I mentioned, you know, gene editing, there are lots of different technologies that are kind of shuffling to card deck and opening up amazing opportunities. So Wade, perhaps we could talk about a little bit more detail, some particular companies that you’re excited about in the ecosystem there at Purdue.
Professor Phillip Low, Founder of Endocyte, Launching an Antiviral Company
Wade Lange: Sure. Buckets of companies are coming out of university and maybe four different phenotypes. One is a faculty member with the discovery that takes it forward. Cases where we have technologies and alumni coming back or others from outside of the university coming out and then clearly students as well. But a couple of things on the, on the faculty startups, one of the more prolific inventors at Purdue is Philip Low Philip is in those schools of the college of science at Purdue,
Sal Daher: Phillip Lau?
Wade Lange: L-o-w, low, low. Dr. Low specialty is really targeting therapy. So first companies called Endocyte. Went public back probably 10 years. It’s this is not a new story, went public, but then they were acquired by Novartis a year and three quarters ago. So relatively recent cancer therapeutic company, a big potential there. Now, Dr. Low is just launching an antiviral company, an autoimmune company.
SpeechVive Helps Patients with Parkinson’s Disease Communicate Reliably
Wade Lange: So, he’s become very prolific in spinning out companies of his laboratory. Another one that I think is particularly interesting and we’re excited about, and they’ve made some real significant headway recently as a company called SpeechVive. SpeechVive was invented by a professor at Purdue. Jessica Huber who’s in audiology identified a need in Parkinson’s Disease patients because they hear less well. They don’t verbalize as well and kind of regress into themselves. Jessica teamed up with an executive Steve Morgensen a few years ago to form a company called SpeechVive. They’re developing this device to really improve speech clarity and these Parkinson’s patients, and they’ve recently just raised a couple million dollar million and a half dollars, and they’ve got more importantly, really for them for long-term growth, they’ve gotten the reimbursement codes. So they’re off to great things and, you know, think about the impact on people’s lives.
Wade Lange: You’ve got people who are becoming almost shadows of themselves with Parkinson’s, right?
Sal Daher: Absolutely.
Spensa Technologies Is Applying Machine Vision to Identifying Insects, Weeds and Other Problems in Agriculture
Wade Lange: If we can help them live a better life. And that’s a great example. Another company had mentioned called Spensa Technologies was recently acquired by a larger company called DTN recently, but this is this intersection of ag and engineering. This is formed by a new faculty member who decided to leave the university to grow his company,. A computer engineering professor at the time, other than driving the highways of Indiana seed corn fields had no background in agriculture, but I have a friend who works at the Department of Agriculture. Also can identify that the technology is scanning technology use developing, can be used to identify insects, weeds, and other contaminants in a field.
Sal Daher: Oh! Ok, ok.
Wade Lange: So, it’s a big opportunity like that too again, in our part of the country is of corn and soybeans in particular major opportunity. So that’s software eating the world. Yes. You know, of course, artificial intelligence and ag and other fields. Uh, my colleague at Purdue, , Yung Lou, who’s a professor also in electrical and computer engineering.
Sal Daher: Wade, would you be kind enough to spell professor Yung Lou’?
Perceive Inc. Helps Retailers Identify Patterns in Stores
Wade Lange: Sure. It’s Y U N G hyphen H S I E H and Lu L U. [Yung-Hsiang Lu] Okay. So young started a company called Perceive as of now and other things it’s all about computer vision and helping retailers identify patterns within stores, , which should be a little challenging right now with, with COVID, but you’re looking at behaviors. Are they interacting with, salespeople on the sales floor on the, on the floor?
Sal Daher: Well, you know, it’s one of my hobby horses is maybe that kind of technology could be repurposed to watching, you know, CNAs in nursing homes. You know, whether they’re washing their hands or they’re observing proper hygiene in dealing with, you know, frail elderly. Sure. Who knows. I mean, this, this is where these, these technologists can go, but machine vision is very powerful, very powerful. So let’s do something here. One of the reasons I have the podcast is to provide learning opportunities for founders and for angel investors to make them better founders, better angel investors. Also provide an opportunity for people to participate in my investment syndicate. Uh, so if you are an accredited investor, I urge you to go to angelinvestboston.com and get qualified as an accredited investor there. And then we can talk about the interesting companies that I’m investing in and that you might like to participate as well.
Sal Daher Talks About His Investment Syndicate
Sal Daher: I view the investment syndicate, Wade… An investment syndicate is like a list of people who are interested in investing in startups, but they might not invest directly. They might invest via a vehicle because they don’t want to write the kind of checks that you have to write in order to invest directly. So it’s kind of like an on-ramp to angel investing. And I use it as a way of sort of bulking up the investments that I do in interesting startup companies. You know, there’s no fee, you know, current fee, but if the investment’s successful, I get a little bite of the upside. Okay. And it also is good for the entrepreneur because it increases the funding that they have. So if anyone is interested in the kind of companies that I’m seeing in my world and might be interested in investing in them, sign up at angelinvestboston.com. So Wade, tell me a little bit how you got onto this entrepreneurial path. I mean, you grew up in West Lafayette, Indiana and went to West Lafayette High School. You went to Purdue, studied management of Purdue, worked for seven years of Eli Lilly, and so forth. What is it that prompted you to go the entrepreneurial route?
Wade Lange: It’s a great question. And I would say that it was somewhat of a, an accidental path. I did not grow up thinking I want to be an entrepreneur. And I know there are some people that, you know, from the day one that’s, that’s their vision of the future.
Sal Daher: Anybody in your family who was an entrepreneur? I mean, your dad, your mom.
Wade Lange’s Entrepreneurial Journey
Wade Lange: No, not really. Other than my dad had always had a side hustle growing up, he owned apartment buildings around West Lafayette.
Sal Daher: Oh yeah. Geez, I own those.
Wade Lange: But, but no, there really was. No, I guess you can call I had some farmers in our family. They were probably the penultimate entrepreneurs, but, , but no, really not. In fact, when I came out of college, undergrad degree in pharmacy, I joined Lilly at that time, Lilly, salesforce was 99% pharmacists, maybe higher than that. And, you know, I thought I had it made for good and then graduate school. And back in marketing had great experience. I was worked early on in the development of Prozac. So it was a pivotal time for Lily and really a great experience for me. But, you know, actually it was, I turned 30 and all of a sudden do I really want to work in a big company now, I really don’t want to work in a big company.
“I would rather be a big fish in a small pond was my thinking. So I joined a startup was started by a couple of faculty members, at Purdue.”
Wade Lange: I would rather be a big fish in a small pond was my thinking. So I joined a startup was started by a couple of faculty members, at Purdue. I had my first real lesson in entrepreneurship, which is a lot of companies don’t make it. And we bellied up after about a year and a half. There’s also some important lessons… Back… So this was in the 1980s. So long time ago when entrepreneurship at universities was not looked upon very favorably. And so that the two faculty members who started the company, we’re a service company, we’re doing set up assistance. You’re post marketing surveillance of pharmaceuticals that company’s called Argus, and then it so happened that at the time that we were shutting down, , an information company in Indianapolis called Walker research, [inaudible] Walker information had started a clinical trial division. We’re looking for someone to come in and join it.
Wade Lange: And eventually I joined and eventually headed up that division. So it was kind of a, I’ll call it an intrapreneurial opportunity. And I got to point, I loved, and we had a team of about 20 people doing, probably it wasn’t a big company, eight or $9 million of revenue, but pretty profitable business. And then, , the company was sold off to a bigger company. And also I was back to being part of a billion dollar firm. And that’s not what I want to cut out to do. So I spent five years running our bio association, bio affiliate in Indiana called the Indiana Health Industry Forum. And in that role, I had a lot of contact with entrepreneurs. People were trying to start up life sciences related companies and just got the bug again, that this is something I really, really want to do. And through my network, I met physician and a scientist at Indiana University, David Wilkes, and Mike Clem, who had started a company developing a protein product for prevention of lung transplant, rejection and treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and decided it was time to take the leap.
How Wade Lange Came to the Purdue Foundry
Wade Lange: I liked them. I thought the technology is pretty interesting looking back on it probably wasn’t as fully baked as I hoped hope that might be, we raised about $12 million overall. So not a ton, but a fair amount. We did a partnership with the big-cap pharma company, and then ran out of money. They had a strategic shift and then we went into hibernation mode for about four years. Finally, about two years ago, we, we act we did do another transaction, so that company, the technology lives, but during that time, we were in hibernation. I was spending a couple of days a week as an entrepreneur in residence at Purdue working mostly with life sciences companies. And, you know, the job there was a lot of it was, was advising early stage founders on how to think about growing their company, trying to make a lot of connections into the industry.
Wade Lange: One of the artifacts of my work at the health forum and in my work as I had pretty deep network. And then, , as I tell people, I was in the right restaurant the right time, about a year ago, I, a gentlemen, Brian Elmer, who’s another former Lily executive, , walked into this breakfast restaurants that Wade, have you thought about running the Foundry? And, and, , a couple months later here I am, but it’s, you know, it’s part of his point in career Sal, that I’m at the point where this is what a wonderful opportunity to give back. I love what I’m doing. It is a job, but mission statement of the Foundry is to, is to enable Purdue startups, to improve the world. And that’s, for me, , it’s a pretty tough thing to be, you know, it is my Alma Mater and I’ve always felt this in my work, in when I was running the immune works.
Wade Lange: And now that there’s always these kind of dual bottom line in these kinds of companies that you, aren’t a good living, you’re working with incredibly smart people doing really cutting-edge work. That’s all exciting and really feels good to do that. Oh, Hey, by the way, if you do your job right, someone’s going to live a better life who wasn’t a very good life before. So it’s just, to me, it’s just a hard deal to beat. And I feel that way at the Foundry now that we do our job, right, we’re going to impact a lot of lives.
Sal Daher: The work you’re doing is a sort of a more formalized activity, very comparable to what angel investors do. Angel investors sort of, you know, less formally, but they look for ways to support the startups they’re involved with, of course, with the ultimate interest of making money from the investments that they’ve made. But the reality is like two thirds of the time. These companies don’t return the capital. So there’s a lot of work that goes unrewarded directly, but creates a lot of strength. I mean, even this company that you worked with all this time, the technology is being applied. Maybe it wasn’t successful for your investors in terms of a return, but the technology is still is being used, has been brought to the market. I’d like to think that entrepreneurship throws off massive amounts of externalities. You know, there are, these externalities effect cannot be captured by the enterprise themselves.
Sal Daher: The Nobel Prize winning economist, William Nordhaus came to the conclusion. He studied entrepreneurship innovation. And what percentage of the value created by the enterprise could be captured by the investors by the enterprise itself. And he came to the conclusion that it was something like 5%. I mean, like 95% of the value that innovative enterprises create gets thrown off to consumers, to workers, to lots of people who don’t even realize that their lives are being enriched by innovation. Innovation is so we talk about double bottom line. It is by nature. It has a double bottom line. So if 95% of what you do ends up helping other people, other than the people who are direct investors in the company, then it’s a, it is definitely very much. So every business is sort of double bottom line. When you do that, that’s sort of accounting.
“Purdue’s President Daniels wants Purdue to be known as startup U, okay.”
Wade Lange: Exactly. Right. We look at that and Purdue’s President Daniels wants Purdue to be known as startup U, okay. So it’s one thing we start companies and some of those may happen, you know, may grow, but we’ve got faculty members who are now better informed. The research that they’re doing in their academic laboratories now informed by actually touching the real world. Right. We have students who are having entrepreneurial opportunities, whether it’s in the classroom or working with our companies. And, you know, they may not start a company when they leave the university, but in five or 10 years, they’ve had some great experience at, at, at Merck or at Google.
Sal Daher Makes a Plug for Purdue as a Great Place to Be an Undergrad
Sal Daher: Yeah. Yeah. They have that seed in their head. That seed idea, by the way, I just wanted to put in a plug for another aspect of Purdue. You know, if you have a kid who’s thinking about studying engineering, you could do a lot worse than consider Purdue. And one of the things that Mitch Daniels has managed to achieve, I think it’s like seven years without a tuition increases
Wade Lange: Every year, since he’s been here maybe eight years now, no tuition,
Sal Daher: Not crazy expensive. And at the same time, you know, they are building an entrepreneurship environment of the purpose of being a university that takes its technology from the lab out to the clinic, to the market. And as I say, you know, Çağrı is an excellent example of that. He’s not the first, he will not be the last, it’s an exciting thing. And I thought it would be very nice to, you know, bring a little bit of the flavor of what’s going on in biotech, outside of Boston, which has a connection with Boston because Çağrı company ended up being funded here. They have their lab here in Boston and located here. I find the whole thing just tremendously exciting. And that’s the whole point of this podcast is really to document these things, to create models for people, to help people have these models in their heads so that they can help in making decisions.
Wade Lange: Sal, make the plug. One of the things I mentioned earlier, you know, one of our cha… I say our core challenge at the Foundry with companies is access to talent is one of the things we’ve learned from COVID. There is a real obstacle to distance, but I think more so we’ve made this obstacle exist because we’re hundreds of miles from Boston or we’re thousands of miles from Silicon Valley that were challenged. And I think one of these we’ve learned is no, you know what? We’re pretty darn close. I work with Dell, you know, so you and the guy across the street are essentially as close to me as each cause you’re both a nanosecond away.
Sal Daher: Well, I know you better than like some of the guys across the street, you know, I know who you are because of Çağrı. You know, our social map is beating our geographical map.
Wade Lange: It is, I heard it, an investor from Frasier make a comment in a few weeks ago that he had made his first investment about $10 million greater investment. He made his first in basketball. He had never met with a company in person. The key was though there was an advisor to the company that was well known to him. So there’s this, you know, these connections that are so important and that’s part of again what we’re trying to do.
“…my connection to Çağrı came because of my brother-in-law. My brother-in-law is a patent attorney at Fish and Richardson.”
Sal Daher: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, real world connections. I mean, my connection to Çağrı came because of my brother-in-law. My brother-in-law is a patent attorney at Fish and Richardson. It’s a top patent law firm in the country, which, you know Çağrı had just become a client of the firm. And my brother-in-law Peter came to me one of these Sunday, you know, family dinners at Saleh, you got to see the technology of this company. It’s unbelievable. So this is how I connect the chart. I didn’t know, Çağrı then. My brother in law was excited about this technology. He reads all the papers in the area, in the field and all this stuff. So, and then I got to know this character. Who’s just an amazing guy. This, this Turkish, , you know, foreign student who came here, spent a summer at Harvard, trying to learn English and so forth. And now he’s a professor at Purdue. The whole story is just a, it’s just tremendous.
Wade Lange: I have a very similar experience with a guy that I, I attended a conference on a pulmonary fibrosis and horses, which is actually not uncommon. Well, Westies and horses are liable for IPF and there’s woman seating there is an advocate for IPF. She knew a guy in California, Stuart Ackman, who was a great, become a great friend and a great advocate.
Sal Daher: Wade, these communities are really small. I mean, if you’re someone who is in the cell separation space like Çağrı , okay. You know, you read the papers, everybody, you know who they are. Okay. You know, you don’t know the baseball players in Boston. Okay. But you may, you may not know the people who running the Boston marathon here, but he knows all the people who are in his field here in Boston, at Baylor Universe at Baylor, he knows them at different places at Wash U or all these different places because they’re sort of, it’s a small community. These people have some, a lot in common, brings them together. And geography really is, you know, it’s a relative thing. There’s some interesting connections to be made. Wade as we think about wrapping up this interview, I’d like to open up the forum to you for you to communicate to my audience of founders, of companies, angel investors, and companies, people who are participating in investment syndicates, what would you like to communicate to them that we haven’t touched on so far.
“…founding entrepreneurs who have deep relationships with 25 other founders, 10 industry experts, and eight investors. They had double the revenue growth of founders who didn’t.”
Wade Lange: Article written and it was published in Inc Magazine earlier this year, I have some research done by a consulting company, Startup Genome, and this really relates, comes back to our network. But what they identified is founding entrepreneurs who have deep relationships with 25 other founders, 10 industry experts, and eight investors. They had double the revenue growth of founders who didn’t. I think that’s really our mantra. My mantra at Purdue is that we need to help our founders build these deep relationships. I guess my request of people in the, in the Boston, you know, obviously I come from the biotech industry, but if you’re in AI, you’re in quantum computing, you’re in a rocket fuel, you know, IOT in ag. Um, there’s a lot going on at Purdue. And there are many opportunities for individuals with industry expertise who want to advise companies are looking for maybe their next gig.
Wade Lange: They’re looking to their, their former CEO is looking for the next opportunity and want to find some really strong technology. We’ve got it in spades. The welcome mat is open. And so really core part of what we do at the Foundry is trying to be the front door to the university for people in the entrepreneurial space and the doors open to come in and show you what we have share our technologies. Uh, yeah, obviously we’d love to have companies that started to grow in West Lafayette, but I am also a firm believer that a has got to go where a company’s got to go.
Sal Daher: Yup. Yup.
Wade Lange on the Advantages of Growing Your Startup Near Purdue
Wade Lange: You know, one of the advantages of the Midwest and West Lafayette particular is that land prices and compensation significantly lower than on the coast, but a very talented workforce that you think about Purdue and the life sciences we can, we produce a lot of life scientists. My youngest son just finished his PhD in molecular biology. So I know of one really well, but there’s that, there’s that model. I think, where, where, you know, kind of lab operations, manufacturing could be in the Midwest and the CEO and maybe others in the executive team need to be in Boston where the money is I could work with exam. So, so Çağrı would be an example
Sal Daher: Çağrı is on the faculty still at Purdue, the company has a, a lab in Boston. Purdue also has a very good arrangement that allows them to use, you know, the, the lab there with, , you know, like a swipe card that swipes in as this or that. So they maintain things separate, totally separate lab in Boston. Uh, they’re able to really, you know, take advantage of the strength that Purdue offers and at the same time, reach out and bring in resources from outside.
Wade Lange: And we have very strong, alliance management team that helps build those relationships. So we’re ready to go working with outside companies outside people.
Sal Daher: Excellent.
Sal Daher: Well, Wade, Wade Lang, I want to thank you for making time on a Friday afternoon to chat all the way from West Lafayette, Indiana, the home of Purdue with Cambridge, Massachusetts. I look forward to one of these days meeting you in person.
Wade Lange: I tell people I’m really looking forward to seeing you in 3D. Yeah,
Sal Daher: Exactly. Excellent. Thanks a lot. This is angel. Invest Boston conversations with Boston’s most interesting angels and founders I’m Sal Daher. I’m glad you were able to join us. Our engineer is Raul Rosa. Our theme was composed by John McKusick. Our graphic design is by Katharine Woodman-Maynard. Our host is coached by Grace Daher.0 LIKES