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Novel Imaging

If it takes a lot of words to say what you have in mind, give it more thought.

– Dennis Roth

I also met the Novel Imaging team while coaching the teams who were participating in Washington University’s Olin Cup business plan competition. When I first heard Novel Imaging’s elevator pitch, it started out like this...

Novel Imaging is an early stage company dedicated to the dis­covery, development and commercialization of radiotracers and radioligands for applications in Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging.V

Near term commercialization focuses on the radioactive iso­tope Copper-64 (64Cu) for applications in PET Imaging and ther­apy and targeted tumor imaging of sigma-2 receptors by way of proprietary ligands. The first ligand would be a sigma-2 recep­tor ligand labeled with Tc-99m for breast, lung and head & neck tumors. Longer-term efforts for sigma-2 receptor ligands will focus on measuring the proliferative status (growth and spread) of tumor cells.

The company will be led by Michael Bronowicz, an individual with 9 years of management experience in Nuclear Medicine. Mr. Bronowicz managed the global Nuclear Medicine business unit at Mallinckrodt Medical. The business unit achieved M$300 in sales revenue under his leadership. Inventors of the technolo­gies, Dr. Michael Welch and Dr. Robert Mach will support man­agement as scientific advisors to the company. Michael J. Welch, Ph.D., is an internationally known researcher and leader in the field of nuclear medicine. He is Director of the Division of Radiation Sciences at Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology (MIR). His research in the field of P.E.T. imaging has led to a number of patents related to radioisotope manufacturing, target prepara­tion and ligand design. Robert H. Mach, Ph.D., is Director of the P.E.T. Scan Center at Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology. His research has focused on the application of radiotracers in both PET and SPECT imaging studies of tumors.

Novel Imaging’s proprietary technology platform is based on several inventions. Technology related to Copper-64 and other isotopes is based on a patented method of production of the iso­topes. The availability of isotopes manufactured by this method is limited currently to one site, MIR. Clinical grade material suit­able for use in preparing radiodiagnostic-imaging agents is cur­rently being manufactured and shipped to over thirty facilities in the USA. These customers will soon be supplied by Novel Imaging, which will result in an immediate revenue stream for the company. Revenues for the first 5 years are expected to be around M$7.0. Sigma-2 expression has been shown to correlate with cell proliferation (growth and spread) in tumors. A radiola­beled sigma-2 ligand could be used to image tumors and pre­dict their response to radiation therapy and chemotherapy. The technology platform focused on sigma-2 receptors provides novel radiolabeled sigma-2 ligands for use in the diagnosis of tumors. Our proprietary compounds are also suitable for nonin­vasive methods that may accurately assess the proliferative sta­tus of cancer cells in breast, lung and head & neck tumors. The company is expected to take this technology into human clinical trials, focused on breast cancer initially, within 12 months of the commencement of operations. Advances in MIR, CT, Ultrasound, SPECT and PET equipment design and enhance­ments drive competition for tumor imaging. There are also sev­eral radiopharmaceutical agents under development that will require human clinical trials and FDA approval. Our sigma-2 receptor agent will be focused initially on the detection of breast tumors in women with dense tissue, breast implants and scar­ring as a result of biopsy. This patient type is not well served by mammography. Both thick breast tissue and breast cancer tumors appear as white regions on a mammogram film, which can cause dense breast tissue, implants and scarring to eclipse the cancer. We expect to penetrate the breast tumor market by 3% resulting in first year sales of M$20.

Novel Imaging has key patents, proprietary know-how, and licensing agreements under negotiations with Washington University and Wake Forest University. In addition, Novel Imaging’s inventors continue to identify development opportu­nities that define noninvasive methods that may accurately assess the proliferative status of cancer cells in breast, lung and head & neck tumors and predict the response of these types of tumors to radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

Novel Imaging is seeking K$200 to commence operations. First year revenues of K$480 from the sale of Copper-64 will sup­plement initial funding. Funding will be used for payroll/bene­fits, travel, office rent/lease and overhead, legal support and to initiate toxicology studies for the sigma-2 receptor technology. Funding and revenues are expected to last 9 months.

Funding for sigma-2 human clinical trials in the range of M$1.7-2.2 will be required to initiate and complete trials thru Phase 2 (IND, Phase 1, and Phase 2). In addition, revenues from copper-64 will be used to supplement company operations.

The company will seek partners for isotope production and distribution. Interest in the sigma-2 receptor ligand, as an adjunct to therapy, would be expected to come from major pharmaceutical companies currently focused on the treatment of cancer.

The Novel Imaging management team will consist of the President/CEO and later in the first year a Chief Scientific Officer (CSO). A CFO and a laboratory scientist will be added in the sec­ond year. Accounting, legal, regulatory, etc. will be outsourced. Guidance and support from the two inventors will insure trans­fer of technical knowledge and commercialization of the ongo­ing operation.

The company exit strategy would be to position itself as an acquisition or merger candidate for pharmaceutical or imaging equipment companies interested in access to technical expert­ise in isotope production and ligand design and development.

The company is currently seeking both corporate and science advisory board members who can provide expertise in the finan­cial, medical (focus on cancer) and strategic planning functions.

There were obviously a number of problems with this version of the Novel Imaging elevator pitch.

First, at 891 words this version of the Novel Imaging elevator pitch was much too long. As a result, it took forever to deliver.

Second, this version of the Novel Imaging elevator pitch used too much jargon. It was absolutely packed with acronyms and scientific terms that very few Ordinary People could understand. This limited the number of people who could understand the pitch.

Third, this version of the Novel Imaging elevator pitch was a perfect example of a worm burner; an elevator pitch that gets too detailed too quickly. There was too much unnecessary, low-level detail in this version of the Novel Imaging elevator pitch. In part, this was because the team seemed to be trying to close the deal with their elevator pitch rather than just trying to get to the next conversation.

Finally, this version of the Novel Imaging elevator pitch didn’t answer the “So what?” question. There was no discussion of the benefits of all those big, fancy, technical words. At no point did the Novel Imaging team explain why the world needed a product that could do what they said it could.

After spending some time talking to the leader of the Novel Imaging team, we came up with this revised version of their elevator pitch...

Novel Imaging is a life sciences company dedicated to the discovery and development of products that will enable physicians to detect and treat tumors in their earliest stages.

When it comes to screening for breast cancer, existing detec­tion systems like mammography have a difficult time discrimi­nating between cancerous tissue and tissue that is dense, cov­ered by an implant, or the result of scarring. As a result, 25% of the mammography exams done each year result in women being told that they have an abnormality on their mammogra­phy and need to undergo biopsies, ultrasound and other follow-up tests, only to find that they do not have breast cancer.

Novel Imaging has developed a product that, when injected into the body, attaches itself to the wall of any cancer cells that are present in breast tissue and will highlight both the size and location of the cancerous growth.

Mike Bronowicz, President & CEO, has been involved in the manufacturing, distribution, marketing and sales of medical prod­ucts for the past 25 years. The inventors of our technology, Dr. Michael Welch and Dr. Robert Mach are located at Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology. Both scientists are internationally known researchers and leaders in the field of Nuclear Medicine.

The company is seeking $500,000 to move to the next phase of operations. Expected revenues of $480,000 from another product line that the company has licensed will be combined with initial funding and will be used for product development.

The revised Novel Imaging elevator pitch did a much better job of explain­ing who they were and what they were trying to accomplish.

First, this version of the Novel Imaging elevator pitch started off with a short summary sentence, which set the stage for what followed. It gave the listener a basic sense of where the rest of the pitch was going, which made it easier for the audience to follow along.

Second, this version of the Novel Imaging elevator pitch was very explic­it when it came to identifying the problem and answering the “So what?” question. Where they had previously spent too much time getting into all of the details of HOW their Solution worked, in this version of their eleva­tor pitch they steered clear of issues of HOW and instead focused on answering the WHAT and WHY questions.

Third, the revised Novel Imaging elevator pitch did a much better job of highlighting the credibility of the team. Where before the background of the founders – which was quite strong – was buried in the middle of the pitch, in this version it was toward the end of the pitch where it stood out better.

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