Tell us about yourself?
Husband to Ann for 35 years and father of 33-year-old Zach. B.A. from UVA (economics) and MBA from Harvard.
Worked in the venture industry in San Diego for 15 years, investing in early-stage startups, then took on CEO role at biotech startup Lpath, which we took public while forging worldwide partnerships with Pfizer, Biogen, Merck Serono, and J&J.
Then started my own company–Zylö–which is largely based on technology I discovered from Einstein College of Medicine. We have had an oversubscribed Series A at $4.0M and an oversubscribed Series B at $5.2M. Love soccer and card games.
What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?
That raising money is easy. For some companies, it might be, but for 90+% of companies, it is a grind and it should be THE primary focus of the startup’s CEO.
If you could go back in time to any moment from your journey, and give yourself one tip, what would it be?
Never skimp on hiring….Hire only the best and treat them as if your startup cannot live without them. Because it can’t.
What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur?
At 64 years of age, I have many more years of wisdom (i.e., learnings from past errors) than the typical entrepreneur.
What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?
1. Working 60 hours per week while not becoming a burned-out mess. 2. Becoming self-sufficient. Both of these are strong traits for an entreprenuer.
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
The Harvard-trained lawyer that helped my previous company, Lpath, go public was the one that pointed me to this technology that was developed at Einstein College of Medicine.
It was then up to me to conduct due diligence and to forge a license agreement with Einstein. Joel Friedman M.D., Ph.D., Professor at Einstein and the father of the technology, was instrumental in both of these tasks.
Where do you see your business in five years?
Hopefully, by the end of 2027, Zylö either has been sold to a large company or P/E firm or is being traded on Nasdaq, having successfully effected an IPO.
What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in getting there?
Gaining revenue traction with our product concepts will be our biggest challenge. We have received five NIH/DoD grants thus, so our technology has been validated.
But our time-to-revenue cycle is long and we are dependent on partners in our various verticals (cosmetics, cannabinoids, ag-tech, animal health, pharma) to launch product that contain our technology. This requires patience (and pushiness to some degree).
Talk to us about your biggest success story so far?
Assembling our current team of folks (a world-class group, I would argue) is Zylö’s biggest success story so far. The caliber of our team helped immeasurably in our fundraising efforts.
How do clients and customers find you? Are you much of a salesperson for yourself?
I had to be a salesperson of sorts as I led the fundraising efforts during our Series A and Series B rounds.
With respect to clients/customers/partners, our key ‘salesperson’ is our Head of Business Development, an M.D. with an MBA…..He is excellent at advancing our technology with all sorts of prospective partners.
What one tip would you give to fellow startup founders?
DROOC: Don’t run out of cash!!!! A founder should spend at least a third of his/her time getting rejected in an effort to find capital and to find it from the best-matched sources. [Start-to-finish, our Series A round lasted 20 months and our Series B round lasted 18 months.]
And finally, what do you hope the future brings both you personally, and your business?
We all want to be successful, right? I have sold our investors on the possibility that Zylö will attain a $200 million market-value in the next 3-5 years. I meant it when I said it….and our team is determined to reach that goal.
And with success comes the creation of wealth, to some degree, for our investors, for our employees, for Einstein College of Medicine, and for me and my family.