MBA Program: Yale School of Management
Founding Student Names: Owen Yang (Yale School of Management, ’19); Philip Kong (Yale, Ph.D. in Immunology); Jennifer Fischer (Yale School of Management, ’19); Sean Bickerton (Yale, MD and Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering)
Brief Description of Solution: Statera Therapeutics is developing curative solutions in autoimmune diseases using a patented nanoparticle drug delivery technology. Statera uses its spatial-temporally tuned particles to not only discover new therapeutic candidates but also rescue shelved drugs which will, in turn, lower healthcare costs.
Funding Dollars: $25,000
What led you to launch this venture? I was always fascinated by cutting-edge technologies from universities. Some of these technologies could be further developed to save millions of lives, but such potential is often difficult to realize without considering business and economic factors. Understanding this, I knew I could leverage my background in healthcare and investment to bridge the gap between academic research and product development. In my second year at Yale School of Management, I partnered with my scientific co-founders with the mission to create curative solutions and enable innovative therapies in treating autoimmune diseases.
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with your venture? Statera obtained the exclusive right to the STP technology from Yale University. Statera also recently won the 6th annual Yale-NYU Startup Pitch-off.
How has your MBA program helped you further this startup venture? I picked the Yale School of Management (SOM) because it is highly integrated with the rest of Yale University. My MBA program offered me a gateway to collaborate with incredible scientific minds across campus. The Entrepreneurship program at Yale SOM has been on the frontline with our team every single step of the way. It made sure that Statera had access to a great network of mentors in the life sciences industry, and introduced many funding opportunities.
What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you? Jack Ma. His story from being rejected 30 out of 30 jobs where he applied to founding one of the biggest ventures to ever come out of China epitomizes the journey of entrepreneurship. I believe that there are incredible opportunities that will present themselves in our lifetime. What we need to do now is to prepare ourselves diligently so that when they do, we can grab a hold of them and never let go.
Which MBA class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? The very first MBA class I took at Yale SOM was called Managing Groups & Teams. It’s a core curriculum requirement at SOM. Prior to Statera, I used to think that this class focused too much on the soft skills and not enough on hard-hitting numbers and techniques. Looking back now, I’ve realized I grossly underestimated its benefits. The problems related to accounting, finance, legal, and marketing are not hard problems to solve because we will have resources and expertise to tackle these challenges. The problems related to culture, team dynamic, motivation, and consensus are significantly harder and are typically ones that can tank a young, promising startup.
What is your long-term goal with your startup? I want Statera to be the archetype of the new generation biotech and impact venture. Our focus is on finding curative solutions while minimizing the costs of development. We are uniquely positioned to achieve that with our drug delivery technology, and our approach in rescuing shelved drugs. The money we save will directly translate into lowering drug costs to patients. Our patients will no longer have to make the choice between a life-saving drug and their next meal.