Building A Company Around an Idea

If you needed one word to describe the approach of PanTher Therapeutics Co-Founder and CEO Laura Indolfi it would be “proactive”.

Fresh off winning an Amgen Golden Ticket at LabCentral towards the end of 2018, Laura and her team of nearly 10 people between full-time employees and consultants, are taking full advantage of the access to innovative infrastructure made available to golden ticket winners at LabCentral.

“It’s a huge advantage for attracting, retaining, and connecting with talent,” said Laura. “These types of opportunities are so essential for a young enterprise. It’s also representative of what Massachusetts has to offer to companies like PanTher—the ability to build a company around an idea.”

Laura has received awards through competitions sponsored by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Johnson & Johnson as well. She knows the name of the game, in many ways, is to stand out as a company and entrepreneur in order to garner as much visibility as you can in the hopes that it will translate to new connections, funding, and access to resources.

Laura is also an inaugural awardee of the MLSC’s Massachusetts Next Generation Initiative (MassNextGen), a five year, more than $2 million commitment to ensure greater gender parity in the next generation of life science entrepreneurs.

Each year, following a competitive program, women-led early-stage life science companies are awarded a yearlong customized package of support. This package of support includes non-dilutive grant funding and access to a network of seasoned executive coaches from the life sciences ecosystem to refine their business strategies and effectively raise capital.

While it was the funding that originally attracted Laura to apply to become a MassNextGen entrepreneur, access to the executive coaching network has proved more valuable than she even anticipated. The executive coaching network is an essential part of the initiative, as they bring rich experiences from investing in, partnering with, and running their own early-stage life sciences companies.

“From my perspective, networking and mentorship are a two way street,” said Laura. “It is a time commitment on both ends and what I’ve been able to tap into through MassNextGen has been instrumental as a springboard for PanTher.”

Laura has been able to leverage the opportunity to pick the brains of representatives from MassNextGen’s sponsors, Takeda and Sanofi. Additionally, she has been able to develop one-on-one dialogue with MassNextGen Executive Coaches, Pandion Therapeutics Founder and CSO Jo Viney and Digital Cognition Therapies board member and acting CEO Nancy Briefs.

Moreover, Laura is particularly appreciative of the connection she has been able to form with her fellow awardees.

“It is truly one of the best things to come out of it,” she said. “The connection we have formed as a group offers us all freedom to converse on what we are experiencing as female leaders in this industry. In a way, it’s validation to know I’m not the only one going through the challenges I come up against.”

Laura is aiming for 2019 to be a big year for her company. PanTher Therapeutics has developed a novel delivery method for the treatment of inoperable locally advanced solid tumors. Its delivery method is designed to target just the tumor, which has the potential to enhance therapeutic response and minimize side effects.

“I see 2019 as the next level of validation for our platform technology,” said Laura. “In my view, we as an industry are on the cusp of changing the way cancer is treated. We just need more clinical data to open that door.”

Laura and her team will keep the proactivity mantra going with conversations, connections, and collaborations that she hopes will lead to the next big thing.

It’s make it or break it time. We’re taking the leap and thinking big.

The MassNextGen program is now accepting applications for its second year. A total of $437,500 of non-dilutive capital is available for the second year of the program to be distributed to winners of a competitive process.