The May 2018 issue of Life Science Leader features Michael Bonney, CEO of Kaleido Biosciences, a privately held biopharmaceutical company focused on unlocking the power of the microbiome. One of the challenges of producing a print publication is there isn’t always space to share all of the great insights from an executive like Bonney. That’s one of the reasons we created our exclusive, Beyond The Printed Page section on our website. And while access to this continues to be free, to read the comprehensive feature involving Kaleido Biosciences and its CEO, you need to be a subscriber — which you can do here. We hope you enjoy this latest Beyond The Printed Page installment.
In the biopharmaceutical industry, there are only a handful of annual gatherings CEOs will block out on their calendars as “can’t-miss meetings.” One of these is the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference (JPM) that takes place every January at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco. The event applies a very formulaic approach for all of the publically traded companies, a 25-minute PowerPoint presentation in one room, followed by a 25-minute breakout Q&A in a different room. Typically the biggest and hottest companies present early in the week and in the bigger rooms. A CEO of a publically traded company once shared that you could tell how well your company was doing by where and when you appeared in the JPM schedule. For example, presenting on a Monday in the Colonial Room is much better than being the last company to present on a Thursday in one of the smaller rooms.
This year Michael Bonney, CEO of Kaleido Biosciences, had the opportunity to be one of the 463 companies invited to present at JPM. His session took place on Tuesday, January 9 at 4:30 PM PT in Elizabethan D. It should be noted that companies presenting in Elizabethan C, D, Alexandria, or Victor’s on the 32nd floor aren’t provided a 25-minute breakout room. As such, a skilled presenter might have the opportunity to field a question or two following their presentation, assuming they don’t use all of the allotted 25-minutes presenting. The four Elizabethan rooms (A – D) are located on the second floor of the Westin St. Francis. As these rooms are partitioned by foldable “temporary” walls, the sound proofing is not exceptional, and while listening to Bonney’s presentation, I had to focus intently, for through the wall to my left I could also hear the presentation of One Medical, and I imagine Bonney could as well. These are a just a few of the difference observed between big and small companies presenting at JPM. But I thought it would be interesting to gain Bonney’s perspective. For as the former CEO of a midsized publically traded company, Cubist Pharmaceuticals, he has experienced what it is like to attend and present at JPM from two very different perspectives.
How Did You Go About Preparing To Present At JPM?
We actually didn’t learn that Kaleido Biosciences would be getting a JPM presentation time slot until December 19, 2017 — the Tuesday before Christmas. What we had in place then was our “corporate deck,” which is designed to be between a 30 and 35-minute presentation followed by about 25-minutes for Q&A. So we had to do a bit of scrambling to refine our corporate story so it fit into more of a 20 to 25-minute time slot.
Prior to JPM, our investor meetings had been largely either through folks who were limited partners (LPs) at Flagship (i.e., so they had heard something about Kaleido) or folks interested in investing in private companies who knew me from my days at Cubist. But at JPM, as the presentation is open to anyone with varying degrees of familiarity with Kaleido, we had to take the story up a level. Thus, we decided on a fundamentally different approach. Prior to JPM, our investor meetings involved explaining why I came out of retirement to join Kaleido. For JPM we transitioned to, “Imagine a world where $100 million doesn’t get you partway to one IND application, but gets you half a dozen INDs. What would you have to believe for that world to look attractive?” That’s the first thing we did, along with gathering the necessary data to support the story through some very helpful resources at Flagship.
In parallel with working on the Kaleido presentation, we also started filling out our dance cards for meetings we wanted to have while in town for JPM. We’d been holding folks off until we determined whether we were going to be on the JPM agenda. This is because we didn’t think it made much sense to book a series of meetings, only to have to rebook (i.e., move around) once we got a presentation slot. By the end of the week (prior to Christmas), we had half of our meetings booked. This is really a testament to the team, because this year Christmas fell on a Monday, which means we accomplished a lot in only three and a half business days. Further, as many life sciences companies close down between Christmas and New Year’s, we only had five additional business days prior to JPM to try to fill out the rest or our dance cards. As my team was able to get the presentation done well prior to leaving for JPM, I had the opportunity to use it to entertain my relatives over the holidays.
Meanwhile, in the background, unrelated to the investor meetings, we had a second group within Kaleido, our head of corporate development, who had been setting up introductory meetings with the larger companies so we could take them through what we were up to. This is because partnering some of our assets is part of our strategy. Attending JPM this year provided us an opportunity to broaden the introduction of the company to some of the top companies in the industry.
Why Do You Think You Were Able To Get The JPM Time Slot?
I’m sure it’s a complex task for JPM given the number of companies looking to present. I’d like to think the reason Kaleido was invited was the compelling nature of our story. And, part of the invitation also included the opportunity to attend a reception the evening prior to JPM with other private companies and some of the top health care portfolio managers.
What Did A Typical Day For You Look Like During JPM?
Except for the day of the presentation, where I asked my team to give me an hour block before the presentation just so I could get my head around it, we basically started with breakfast meetings, usually between 6:30 and 7:00 AM PT. My team had to secure meeting space that was relatively close to the conference, so the buy-side folks interested in meeting with us could get there fairly easily between their scheduled meetings. Between buy-side meetings, which we had in one location, and the business development meetings, which we had in multiple locations, I basically went every hour, from 6:30 in the morning until 9:30 at night. I usually had dinner with either a group of investors or at some business development function.
When You Get Back From Such A Grueling Schedule Do You Take Some Time Off?
No. I typically come back on a Thursday, but this year I came back Wednesday night. Now I’ll admit that Friday by 3:00 PM (the week of JPM) I’m often on my way home. But typically at the beginning of the year, I don’t take time off, as it’s a very busy time and you’re trying to get goals locked down for the year. At Kaleido, as well as at my former company (i.e., Cubist), we do our annual performance reviews in January. As you are moving straight into those, which I believe deserve a lot of attention, there isn’t much time for a breather. Things in biopharma don’t tend to slow down long enough for a break until sometime in late February or early March.
How Does Presenting At JPM As A Small Private Company Compare To Your Experience Of Attending And Presenting As The CEO Of A Midsized Publically Traded Biopharma?
When I was the CEO of Cubist Pharmaceuticals and we were on the agenda, the folks at J.P. Morgan would figure out who we’d want to talk to, and it was basically a case of have your materials, show up, and be ready to talk. In a company like Kaleido it’s much more creative, and you pick and choose who you want to meet with. In some respects, that’s a little bit better, as we got to decide which buy siders we wanted to meet with, assuming of course they could find time in their calendars given our decision to hold off scheduling appointments until we had a firm presentation time slot.
I suspect JPM ‘19 will be more effective for us than JPM ’18. This is because we have a better sense of the expanded investor set, who we want to talk to. While the meeting rooms we were able to line up this year worked great, they were a bit off the beaten path. Having the meeting rooms a little bit closer make the logistics for everybody work a bit better. Because with these meetings, which are often tightly scheduled, you don’t want to be going in with people irritated that it took them 15 minutes just to find the room.
Big companies tend to have a bit more structure, resources, and specific expertise that can be deployed against a meeting like JPM. Smaller companies like us tend to have to make it up as we go. I think we have a pretty compelling story to tell about Kaleido and are fortunate to have brought on people capable of successfully executing this year at JPM, despite being given a short window and smaller budgets. As we grow it is likely we will add infrastructure to support all of the other activities we’re trying to get done at a meeting like JPM. But for now, that is simply a luxury we can’t afford.
For additional insights on the 2018 annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, be sure to check out these resources.