Bryan Dechairo - Sherlock Biosciences - Part 3

Assurex’s Journey From Garage to GeneSight | Keeping a Team Together Through the M&A Process | Building a Diagnostics Company During Covid | What Sherlock & Netflix Have in Common

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Show Notes

As a podcast listener, you can redeem exclusive discounts with a growing list of biotech vendors and get $500 off your first equipment lease by using promo code “TBSP” on

Part 3 of 3: My guest for this week’s episode is Bryan Dechairo, President, CEO, and Director at Sherlock Biosciences, an innovative biotech company that is enabling the democratization and decentralization of diagnostic testing to personalize healthcare and make an impact on global health.

Before Sherlock, and most recently, Bryan was Executive VP at Myriad Genetics and CSO and CMO at Assurex Health. His extensive career spans over two decades and also includes prominent positions at Medco Health, Pfizer, Oxagen, Sequana Therapeutics, and Roche. Bryan's vast experience working at both startups and Fortune 500 companies gives him unique insights that any entrepreneur can benefit from. 

Join us this week and hear about:

  • Scaling Assurex Health out of a garage to developing a best-in-class pharmacogenomic test, GeneSight
  • Working for multiple companies that had gone through the M&A process
  • Developing Sherlock Biosciences’s home diagnostics test during Covid-19
  • Tips and advice to other CEOs on how to raise capital in a challenging economic environment
  • And much more!

Please enjoy my conversation with Bryan Dechairo.

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Bryan Dechairo
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Bryan Dechairo

Bryan Dechairo is the President, CEO, and Director at Sherlock Biosciences. Sherlock Biosciences is an innovative biotech company that is enabling the democratization and decentralization of diagnostic testing to personalize healthcare and make an impact on global health.

Before Sherlock, and most recently, Bryan was Executive VP at Myriad Genetics and CSO and CMO at Assurex Health. His extensive career spans over two decades and also includes prominent positions at Medco Health, Pfizer, Oxagen Sequana Therapeutics, and Roche. Bryan's experience working at both startups and Fortune 500 companies gives him unique insights that any entrepreneur can benefit from.

Episode Transcript

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Intro - 00:00:01: Welcome to the Biotech Startups Podcast by Excedr. Join us as we speak with first-time founders, serial entrepreneurs, and experienced investors about the challenges and triumphs of running a biotech startup from pre-seed to IPO with your host, Jon Chee . In our last episode, we spoke with Bryan Dechairo about transitioning from Pfizer to Medco, the role of big data in genetics, and why affordable and accessible diagnostic resources are important. If you missed it, be sure to go back and give part two a listen. In part three, we talk about Bryan Dechairo leaving Medco for Assurex Health, the subsequent acquisition by Myriad Genetics, building a strong team at Sherlock Biosciences, and how COVID-19 impacted the diagnostics industry.

Bryan - 00:00:53: So my transition was weird out of Medco, which is we got acquired by Express Scripts, which was actually, we were the largest Pharmacy Benefit Manager and Express Scripts was number three. And so it blew my mind that number three could buy number one. But I learned something about like economics and business and market caps and stuff that I never, which helps me today, but I didn't know. How is that possible? And then Express Scripts was just like, their whole way was like around consolidation, stay on pharmacy, make money, where Medco was all about like clinical care packages and helping the patients get better. And if we do the right thing, people will pay more for the right thing. Express Scripts was like, save healthcare by making things as low cost as possible. So they made more margins, more money, had the money to buy the biggest one, bought us. And then when they came in, they're like, we're not gonna do this diagnostic thing. Like, we're not doing it. We're just staying with what we know. Right?

Jon - 00:01:44: Oh man, that's heart-wrenching.

Bryan - 00:01:47: Not this innovation, this new thing. And so they shut down this arm that we were creating. And, but I had been working with so many diagnostic companies that I had the opportunity to like look at them all. And I knew that AssureX Health, which was a startup company that came out of the Mayo Clinic, Cincinnati Children's Hospital, who was using pharmacogenomics or personalized medicine to help select the wrong treatment, like beat you off the wrong treatments for mental illness. These generic medications, again, genetics for generics. I knew that their product had great data. I knew it was gonna work. I had done a big pilot at Medco. And I was like, this is a great company to go into. And they invited me to be the chief scientific and chief medical officer of the company. And it was about 50 employees. And we grew it up. And this product called Genesight is now the, it's like the first to market. And it is like the best in class too. And it still dominates as the best test out there to help avoid the wrong medications for you for mental health medications. Whether that's depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, it's great.

Jon - 00:02:48: That's amazing. And you mentioned that when you joined, you said the team was 50 when you joined.

Bryan - 00:02:53: That's right.

Jon - 00:02:54: Can you talk a little bit about those early days, like, and kind of the early team? I don't go to imagine you work very, very closely with the folks who kind of, the technologists, the folks who like created the technology. Can you talk a little bit about that environment?

Bryan - 00:03:06: Well, absolutely. So I actually met the company member back in my medical days when they had 20 people, they were in a garage. And so we had their first conference meeting with them when I was at Medco and I invited out to Cincinnati, Ohio, and they literally opened up the back garage door open to let the air in because it was a hot day in Cincinnati.

Jon - 00:03:25: Not even an exaggeration. Actual garage. That's amazing.

Bryan - 00:03:29: Yeah, they were next to this karate studio and it was actually a garage. And the conference people in there and then they can open the garage door to have air in. It was like the back room of this small little like office space. And their lab was like a little closet that had like one technician working in it at the time. Right.

Jon - 00:03:44: I love that.

Bryan - 00:03:45: Yeah.

Jon - 00:03:46: I love that.

Bryan - 00:03:47: That's when I met them. Yeah. Yeah. When I joined them, they were in a new facility. They had about 50 people. We had a real lab at the time. And I'm really that kind of person. Like I'm the person who comes into 50, 60, 70 size company and then kind of moves them in a new direction or in a broader direction. And I kind of came in. All the science was at Mayo. So we internalized the science. We changed the algorithms. We use different new algorithm approaches. It was like my first time using like machine learning and AI and things that we now do here at Sherlock all the time in like the nascent days to create better, stronger algorithms. And we added more drugs and medications. And we started launching clinical trials, like the biggest double blind randomized control trial of a diagnostic ever. And wow. And really kind of we have to get the evidence to get the reimbursement, to get the buy in of the psychiatrists, of the primary care physicians. And we did that. And we got it covered by Medicare, by healthcare. It is. We tested. I mean, we treated millions of patients. It is our sales team. Like when the company got acquired by Myriad, we had about 50. 500 employees. As I said, we test over patients like it was great.

Jon - 00:05:03: Wow. Okay. So you joined at 50. That's a 10x. That's like hyperscaling. How was that experience? That sounds fast.

Bryan - 00:05:11: It was crazy. We were buying up new space next door. We actually built a lab in the garage in the basement of the police department in the city of Mason, Ohio.

Jon - 00:05:23: Wow. That's amazing.

Bryan - 00:05:27: It was the most secure lab in the world, I think.

Jon - 00:05:29: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Exactly. Exactly. You couldn't get it better. That's amazing. And I guess, you know, with the hyper growth, we're like, and for anyone who's embarking on kind of a trajectory like that, you know, are there common pitfalls or tips you could provide that for anyone who's embarking on that to just like steer away from? Like, how can you, there's, I'm going to imagine some growing pains from 50 to 500. Is there anything you could advise on?

Bryan - 00:05:55: Yeah, I think it's about getting in, you know, the right people. So Jim Burns, our founding CEO was fantastic. And he was an entrepreneur. He needed to bring people in. He had like great vision. He really brought in strong team members. We built the product. We got it out there. But then we needed to really scale because of our success. And so we brought in from Procter & Gamble, Jenna Drossos. And Jenna Drossos is now the CEO of Signature Jewelers. And she was the CEO at AssureX. And she used to run the beauty division at Procter & Gamble. Like. Change like oil of Olay to Olay and the old spice ads and everything like that, right?

Jon - 00:06:34: Wow. Wow.

Bryan - 00:06:35: And it was great because it was my first time understanding again, somebody that doesn't have diagnostic experience can come in who understands how to scale businesses, how to get the marketing materials out to people, how to get the messages to the right person at the right time. As I mentioned, Julie Gardico, who's our chief commercial officer here at Sherlock, came out of P&G and J&J and a scale business. Businesses and understands that quality. And that's what I looked for. I was like, I need to have the same kind of person here at Sherlock to understand this consumer that we're going to be taking our tests to and how to build that and scale it and get in front of them. And so I learned a lot from her and she was really what drove all of a sudden us to have this exponential growth phase of the company. And I love the, I think the diversity in discipline, studies, science, like it's kind of like the strength of diversity in thought. Yeah, 100%. Now it's like, you know, at least when I talk to my mom and dad who are not scientists, they're like, oh yeah, these very successful scientific companies, they must be run by a pure play scientist. And I'm like, mom, dad, like that's not always the case. It's not to say that scientists can't be great leaders, but it's like, there's like a superpower to have a different perspective and kind of taking inspiration from other industries and implementing it.

Jon - 00:07:58: Yes. Scientific. You got to be good at science if you're a scientific company. I'm not saying you shouldn't be good at science.

Bryan - 00:08:04: No, honestly, John is the opposite. Like I was told all my career, you will never be CEO, Brian, because scientists can't be CEO. Scientists are terrible at running companies. They're terrible at business. They're scientists. They can be founders of great like technology or whatever. But like at some point you need to have a business person, a commercial lead, somebody who's like done sales and marketing or whatever to like run that business. And I think you need to have that person. That person's great at CEO. But that person can also be CCO. It all depends on, you just have to have a team that can balance out what you're good at. And so like at Sherlock, when we're taking new technologies like synthetic biology and CRISPR and bringing it into whole new places, I think it does take somebody like a scientific CEO, but I couldn't do it without somebody like Julie as my CCO because like Karen Davis, who's my chief development officer who builds devices that I've never done. Like you have to build a team to do it and everybody can play a different position on the team.

Jon - 00:09:01: Exactly. But you need to have the team. Exactly. Yeah. And I think it's the, you know, I myself coming from science too, I think I probably had that imposter syndrome where I'm like, I'm just going to be a lab rat. Like that's my fate. But you know, I just love to see, and then like, obviously it's kind of this, the thing where you're just like, ah, like as a scientist for me, I'm like, I'm going to borrow that idea. Like, I'm going to try and put that arrow in my quiver and now I can see like you kind of constantly evolving and like continuing to open up the aperture to the possibilities because I think, you know, that you get stuck when you have like the blinders on and you're getting the tunnel vision, but then finding inspiration elsewhere is how you kind of take it to the next level.

Bryan - 00:09:43: That's right. And in life, when you have these great leaders around you and you can learn from them, like be open to learn from their diversity of thought and then like implement what you want learned, like that's, that's how you build your experience in your career over time. And it does really matter to be surrounded by these great people. I think it's incredibly important. And also, I think it's also this diversity of ideas. And so like in Sherlock, one of our founders is David Walt. He also founded Illumina, which is one of the most successful companies, Juan Tarex, all of you, like he's founded so many companies, but because he's like this Renaissance man, where it's like when he found Illumina, I was like, I'm going to use a fiber optic cable to go detect DNA on the end of a bead. And then like, use fluorescent light. Like, it's like, how do you think about, like, that's not how a biologist wouldn't think like that. You know? No. Yeah. They'd be like measuring the liquid or something like that. Right. And so it's like cool ways of solving problems. I'm not that kind of person. I'm not going to like be the innovator, but if you can actually surround yourself by innovators and then have them throw out ideas, you have to understand what you're good at. Like I'm good at like shooting down ideas and be like, no, that's, oh, that's a great one. Let's pull those ones together, you know, and then pull it forward. So, yeah. Yep.

Jon - 00:10:54: Exactly. And I think I always thought about it just like. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, but the best team composition is just to have your teammate, your weakness is their strength. Out. 100%. So I cover my back, like I'm exposed here. Out. But like, you're very good at this. And so please, I trust that you got this. Yeah. Very awesome.

Bryan - 00:11:15: And trust. Yeah. Trust is the key too.

Jon - 00:11:18: Yeah, exactly. If you don't trust, that's a big problem. Because like...

Bryan - 00:11:22: Big, big problem. If you can't scale a business, I don't trust anybody.

Jon - 00:11:26: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And so Assurex is growing, growing, growing. And you mentioned there's the eventual acquisition by Myriad Genetics. Can you talk a little bit about that? You know, one, there's like, it's an M&A experience, how that M&A experience was, at MedGo, it sounds like Express Scripts came in, said no go. And can you talk a little bit about this, another M&A experience and how that went down?

Bryan - 00:11:49: Yeah, it was interesting. So, you know, Myriad, who had the first breast cancer genes, and they're known for like Angelina Jolie and bracket testing and all this kind of work. If you don't know Myriad, that's what they were known. And then the US Patent Office basically said you can't patent human genes, and therefore Myriad can't be the only person that can test for breast cancer genes in the world. And all of a sudden, it opened up all this competition for a company that, you know, didn't have competition. And so Myriad went out and said, we, well, now that we have competitors in our space, we need to grow into other spaces, right? Because we're going to start losing market share. So we have to kind of get that from other places. And so they had acquired an autoimmune company called Crescendo out of the Bay Area. And their next acquisition was ourselves at Assurex. So then they have autoimmune and they have like mental health and picking up successful nascent diagnostics. The concept made sense. But one of the things that like when Express Scripts acquired Medco, they just shut everything down. Right? Yeah. And so when Myriad acquired Assurex, it wasn't shutting it down, but it was definitely this thought of what we do here because we're big and we're successful is better than what you do there. And they shut down a lot of programs that we were running without trying to find out what the value of it was. And in fact, then years later, they resurrected things that they had shut down where we would have been so much further if we didn't, right?

Jon - 00:13:14: Yep.

Bryan - 00:13:14: And so going through that experience, being the one who got acquired, but yet stayed with the company for another four or five years was, it made me learn like, hey, we need to appreciate the value of the people and listen to them of what will come in because they're innovators or startups. They have some cool ideas. They do things in a different, more nimble way. I'm sure we can learn from it. And so at Myriad, we acquired our women's health business, our prenatal business, a company called Counsyl. And I was competing with Natera out of the Bay Area. And when we did that one, we're like, let's keep the people. Like I fought to keep the people. And we kept this fantastic and phenomenal guy named Dale Muzzy. And interestingly enough, Dale Muzzy is now the CSO of Myriad. And again, like that was a fight, but I was fighting for like, let's keep the good that we have in these great companies that we're acquiring because they got here for a reason.

Bryan - 00:14:09: You know, that's exactly it. And. I'm like, when you're doing an acquisition, like the success of the company that's being acquired, it's like, it's everything. Like everything makes it what it is, that identity. And it's like, I always thought it's a shame to just like, you're like, what made, like to forget when you make the acquisition, what made this organization so compelling in the first place? And then you're like, well, right. And trying to keep that. Yeah. And it's like DNA again. It's like, let's pull the DNA of these two organizations and create us like, don't give, don't misquote me here, but like super species, right? Like, you know, yeah. Because I mean, like when Sherlock acquired Senseye Detection a year ago, we're now 50-50. They're a UK company. We're like 50-50 in the UK and the US. And we like, we like two big companies. We actually right size them back down to the size of the pre-companies. But we're now 50-50. We're not like, we're just taking technology and like thinking we can do it better. It's like, how do we meld the best minds together to like, yup, be a success? And trying to do that. Like, I'm sure I've done things wrong, but we're trying to do the best merger like that we could.

Jon - 00:15:19: Absolutely.

Jon - 00:15:20: And so now you spent four years at Myriad Genetics. And when did you know it was time to leave? And I know we're getting up to present day now. That's great. Yeah. So tell me a little bit about that.

Bryan - 00:15:32: Yeah. So, you know, it was a great experience. I was the head of development for Myriad. One of the officers there, six different business units, 11 products. The goal was to get them all covered and reimbursed across the globe. And we did that very successfully. But then there was like restructuring. We got a new CEO in. The CEO didn't know all the people. We were selling off some business units. And so we were downsizing R&D. And we had a chief science officer and myself as the head of development. And so as we're downsizing, one of us doesn't need to be there. And so they decided to let me go. Jerry is a great person. He's been there for 20 years. He knew everything about Myriad. And so they kept on great science there. And as I mentioned, this guy, Dale, now is the CSO. So it was great to see somebody we brought in be CSO at that point. And so they asked me to leave. And I'm not in a bad way, just because the downsizing. I'm like, okay, what do I do with my career now? I have time. To go find. And I think I could be a great CEO. Hopefully, I would love that. People told me scientists can't be. I want to also when people challenge me like that, I'm like, no, that's not the case. This can happen.

Jon - 00:16:43: Yeah, same.

Bryan - 00:16:44: Right. So I looked for that right opportunity. And when I got headhunted to replace the founding CEO at Sherlock as a new CEO, and this, this company came to me, I was like, wow, you guys are using CRISPR for diagnostics. And you have like synthetic biologies that amplifies DNA already at room temperature. And you have like all of these cool tools. Like I believe that we can decentralize and democratize diagnostics with this type of technology. I cast them a vision to the board members and they agreed with it. And they brought me in almost three years ago now, and to kind of take the helm and to kind of move us, you know, from a research stage company, which was trying to compete with PCR in the central labs, which was not never going to work. Fully integrated, been there for 30 years, not like, you know, best in class. This is not that incrementally that better and move it to a place where like synthetic biology and CRISPR can make a difference. And that was putting high accuracy, affordable, accessible diagnostics into people's homes into, you know, give it to people, you know, like back to my Roche day, I was like in the Amazon river basin, let's go to sub-Saharan Africa. You know, we had great funding from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and from open philanthropy and others to like take this cool technology and get it in to low and middle income countries because it could be affordable and accurate and accessible. And that was like the new strategy that I brought into to Sherlock to, to move them. But then also because the startup company, you gotta make a product and you gotta make some.

Jon - 00:18:14: Yeah, you got it. Right?

Bryan - 00:18:17: So let's figure out what that first product is, you know, which is why I brought in Julie, our chief commercial officer from P&G and G&J and other places and said, hey, let's go figure out what the customer wants. And who is that customer, right? And what's that first killer app? So that we can then build a whole bunch of other apps down the road.

Jon - 00:18:33: Very awesome. And so you now are kind of like pulling together this new vision. It's almost like a go-to-market. And this go-to-market, and maybe before we talk about the go-to-market, could we talk a little bit about the market itself? Like what is the current state of the market, the status quo, and how does Sherlock? On the mission to disrupt this and really improve the current state of the market.

Bryan - 00:18:58: You know, it's interesting because, you know, this is like right in the middle of the COVID pandemic.

Jon - 00:19:03: Yeah. Right.

Bryan - 00:19:05: Everybody, for the first time in their life, realized the value of a diagnostic. It was like, I can't travel without a PCR test.

Jon - 00:19:11: Yeah, yeah, yeah. All right. It reminded everyone of how fragile this can all be.

Bryan - 00:19:18: Right. I need to know what I have. Do I have, what's a sniffle? Do I have something? I was like, yeah, you want the right diagnosis, right? And so like all of these companies were like scrambling to provide solutions for, do I have COVID? Do I not? And so it created a new marketplace where, you know, a marketplace back at Medco, back at a place that we were trying to develop, which is, do you want to leave your house? Go to a doctor's office, risk getting contaminated, go to where the sickest people are to then find out whether you're sick or not. You know?

Jon - 00:19:50: Yeah. Sound like a no-brainer now like right yeah.

Bryan - 00:19:55: Or would you like to stay where you're hopefully not sick and find out that you're not sick, right, where you are at home? And so, you know, we developed, people developed home testing for COVID. And FDA was doing emergency use authorization for getting tests in people's home. And if you think back about it, it's like crazy, but you have pregnancy tests. They've been out since the 60s. You can find out you're pregnant at home. What else do you have? Nothing. You know, back during the 80s and all the HIV and AIDS and still matters today. But like even then in the height in the 80s, like we had our first HIV antibody test was finally allowed to come into the supermarket and to the drugstore and you could get it. That was like FDA allowed a second test. Now we have pregnancy and we got an HIV antibody test. Then two decades later go on and we finally like 60s, then 80s. Then in the 2020, like I guess like now we're on 40. $4. You know, four decades later we get COVID tests. Right. But it kind of made sure everybody realized that I can do a test at home. I can get an answer at home, you know, and then I can go decide whether I need to go to the doctor or not because I get this answer. And that, that was the catalyst. You know, you're talking about the right company at the right time. That was a catalyst that I realized that this is the time where we can work with FDA. We can work with consumers and we can work and we can start bringing more and more and more tests. And we looked at Sherlock. We knew our technology could do it. We knew that with our synthetic biology and CRISPR technologies, it would be simple devices that have low costs, but it would give you molecular PCR level accuracy because you're looking at DNA or RNA, but it'd be very easy to use. And people could afford it out of pocket, not needing insurance, not needing to like go like I could just get it, pay for it, get the answer. Like I can do it at a store, Amazon. And we knew we could do it. And so we surveyed everybody. Like, what is the thing that was the first killer app that everybody needs? And we found out that it was really chlamydia gonorrhea testing. It was STI testing. And there's no available chlamydia gonorrhea testing over the counter anywhere.

Jon - 00:22:09: Which blows my mind, by the way. Like, it blows my mind.

Bryan - 00:22:13: And, you know, we did a bunch of market research where we asked, we thought it was going to be a symptomatic group of patients. Those patients who were like, oh, something's going on down there. I need to get this checked out. And what we found out was, no, like the two largest segments were asymptomatic people who were just like, I have a new partner and we're serious and we want to stop using protection. And I want to, we want to find out whether we have anything or not. So let's get tested. Now, if I have to like make an appointment, go to the public health clinic, take time off work. I'm like, you know what? I'm not going to do that. So let's just take the risk. When you know, I've heard your stories. You heard my stories. Let's just go forward and see what happens. That's what happens today. It's what happened in my life or whatever, you know, or like, if it's your me, like in my age, like I remember back in the nineties when I did it and I had like this urethral swab and I would never do that again when I was worried about having HIV or something like that. Like, and so, you know, if you have those experiences, like I'm not going to, that hurts. That's the reason I don't want that either. And so. You just decide to do nothing. But that group would do a lot if they could just get a test delivered to their house or buy it at the pharmacy and the drug channel. Right. They would order this test. And then there was another group of patients that we've deemed the frisky riskies. And this group of people are like, they're having unprotected sex. They're having a lot of partners are hooking up on dating apps. And they would, they already test today just to make sure that they haven't gotten anything like the way of, you know, they don't want to use protection. Right. They just want to test more frequently. And if they had something at home, they would test. That's far more frequently detected early, get treated early and not, and not spread if they have anything as well. And so people wanted privacy. This segment of people were like, you know, 18 to 30 year olds, 35 year olds, you know, in the US you're on your parents' insurance until you're 26. Do you want the estimation of benefits that you went to the health clinic and got chlamydia testing done at your, you know, to go to your parents when they get their bill? Like, no, you just want this privacy. It's the right cost. You're just going to do it yourself. Right. And there's a massive demand for that. And all of these STIs are on the rise. Like they're on the increase, you know, as we've gotten better therapeutics for HIV with prep and other aspects, like people are using less protection and having, you know, and now we have more ways of hooking up with apps and stuff. And so if you really want to bend the curve on population health, you need to give people what they need, where they want it. Cause then they get tested. They get, they find out when they have something early, they get treated. These are curable and it matters. And so that's going to be the first. The product that we're launching at Sherlock in 2025 is this over-the-counter chlamydia gonorrhea test to patient people.

Jon - 00:24:47: That's amazing. And I'm kind of seeing some through lines here, right? It's the, it reminds me of like your Pfizer experience about. Where's the problem? Like, let's figure it out. Where is there a big unmet need? And that exists. Like, first and foremost, it exists. And the other kind of through line that I'm seeing too, we're talking about like general inertia where people are like, well, it's like really taking up too much time in my day. And like, it's going to take a lot for me to get out of my seat. But this is like, you know, we're talking about incremental improvements versus, you know, massive improvements. It sounds like a massive improvement that you don't have to one, drive to the hospital, go through multiple steps of, you know, just like complete, just like, there's so many barriers. And then now you're just like, you know, kind of like Amazon Prime style, just boop. Yeah. It's like the berries are gone. And that's not incremental. That's like very large.

Bryan - 00:25:42: No, you're on your dating app or whatever. You hook up, whatever. And like Instagram's like, oh, you know, you could test at home for STIs. You're like, oh, I think I want to do that. And like, I just ordered a pizza. Oh, Uber Eats says I can pick up something else for you. Hey, why don't you go pick up this STI thing? And so like Uber Eats stops at CVS or Walgreens or Rite Aid and picks up the STI test and delivers it with your pizza. And you're like, okay, I can do what I want. I'm going to do it tonight. Like, you know, or like, oh my gosh, like let's do like, tonight's going to be my special night. Let's get this testing done. Like you can make those decisions instantaneously wherever you are. There's last mile delivery. It's the world we live in now. Like it can all happen together and you don't actually have to leave your house. It's like this convenient world, right? Where everybody wants it right now, wherever they are, whenever they want it. And it ends fast. And, you know, most people are going to be negative. But if you're positive, you know, we connect you to care. We, you know, you can get your prescription. Like you're not left abandoned, right? You know, you have ways to go get it. And then that can be delivered to your house too. Right. Yeah.

Jon - 00:26:38: That's amazing. Right. It sounds like a spiritual successor to like Medco too, right?

Bryan - 00:26:44: It is.

Jon - 00:26:45: Like a spiritual successor. And, you know, I guess I have a kind of more structural question. Why did it take so long? Like we did a decade count. We started off at like, oh, it was a 20 years. Oh, actually it was 40 years. Like until something that is like, you know, a product like this is, you know, becoming, was it a technological thing? Was it a regulatory thing? Was it a combination of it all?

Bryan - 00:27:09: You know, I would say there's definitely some regulatory pieces. And again, I'm always about democratization, decentralization. I don't believe in paternalistic medicine. I believe that, you know, pregnancy tests have been around since the 60s. And when people are pregnant, they typically go to, you know, the doctor. I don't think people typically get pregnant and then stay at home for nine months, never go to the doctor and give birth at home without anybody being around, right? They don't, right? And so people make the right decisions. Right? The diagnosis is just the beginning of your journey, right? And so I have this theme of like, we don't have to, like, everybody wants to know what they have. And when they know what they have, the majority of people will seek treatment. They're like, no, I'm not going to get treated for this. No, you're going to want to get rid of it. If you find out you have something, right? And so there's that piece. But it is really the technology. You know, pregnancy testing is testing for a specific, you know, a chemical that you give off, your body gives off when you're pregnant. Like it's like metabolomics at the point, right? You detect that chemical signature. You start getting into like infectious diseases, like HIV is where we're talking about antibodies or antigens. It's like those home COVID tests or like antigen tests, right? And it takes a while for your body to produce them. And it's only good for infectious diseases. Like if you're talking about like cancer, like you don't produce like an antigen. So like you can't even apply that technology. And that's like protein technology that's been around for a long time. Most of the tests that are done today for high accuracy in the central lab are PCR genetic based tests, which is why we had to have a PCR test during COVID. And so PCR takes very big equipment that creates thermocycling and all this effort. And so to make that, you know, take that accuracy and put it into a form factor that is low cost enough that people could buy it themselves. It's almost impossible. And so it wasn't until these isothermal amplification technologies for DNA that we are on this umbrella of synthetic biology that we have here at Sherlock. And then, you know, pairing that potentially with CRISPR or not, that we had the chemistry that allowed us to take the high accuracy DNA and RNA tests into very low cost device technologies that any lay user could use to get that high accuracy test. And so now if you compare up high accuracy, with ease of use, the regulatory hurdle, the agency are like, well, if the patients can do it, and they can get the same accuracy as a central lab, then that's okay. Of course, people should be able to do it, right? And so that's been the changing is that the technology now allows high accuracy in a very easy form factor that has a low enough cost of goods that people can afford to pay it for themselves.

Jon - 00:29:47: That's amazing. And, you know, I love to hear kind of like how these technical breakthroughs are just like... This is like going to have massive impact on patients. And also like, there's something to be said about like, you know, in the previous world, not getting tested and just being asymptomatic, just compounds the, like a late diagnosis is the last thing you want. And early diagnosis and being able to catch things early, it's almost like a preventative measure. And, you know, it was like, before things really, really start to get bad, I think is critically important. It's always puzzled me. Like, it makes a lot of sense. Like, you know, having to, I don't think you'd be able to democratize much. It required everything gets sent back to Quest Diagnostics. Like, I don't know, Quest Diagnostics does great work. Yeah, they do. You know, but like, I don't know, like sending it out and then waiting for it to come back. One really expensive and time consuming.

Bryan - 00:30:44: I mean, there are, you know, during COVID and early on, there are even a member back in my Medico days, there are, we were sending collection kits in the mail and then sending that back to the central lab, right? And so a doctor would order it, then we'd send it out to the patient, they would get the collection and it solved the problem. Like I don't have to leave work. It comes to me, but you still had to like log in, say I need it, then wait for something to get delivered. Then once it got delivered, do it, then go find a FedEx or UPS system or something like that, drop it back off or get it picked, organize it to get picked up. Then wait seven days for the lab result, then log into a portal to get the result and figure out what you had. Then figure out what you need. Then figure out what you needed to do next. It was still like, you never had to leave your home and you were private, but it was still, and so it solved some problems, but it didn't solve all the problems, right? Where when you can actually have order online, have Amazon deliver it, or have like last mile delivery, pick it up at CVS and drop it off. Or you can just walk next door to your CVS and pick it up and you can do it in 30 minutes. And then you can get your prescription. Like that is very, very easy for people to do. And they can do it anytime you want, any time of the day. You can stock it if you need it. You can do it anytime you need to. Like, these are all great things.

Jon - 00:31:55: Yeah, that's amazing. And I love to hear this kind of like step change in efficacy, like efficacy from an operational like standpoint, but also just like in clinical outcomes. It's like amazing to see. And, you know, this is a super exciting kind of like part of the journey of going to market. And, you know, as you're embarking on this leg of the journey, can you talk a little bit about Sherlock, the company building, the team building, you know, kind of what is the culture that you guys are seeking to build? And any, you know, right now, tips on hiring great talent and retaining great talent?

Bryan - 00:32:28: Yeah, I think. You know, in a startup company, when you're trying to hire people, you need them to be, they have to believe in a mission, right? And so at Sherlock, our culture is about disruptive technology. It's about helping people have access to care wherever they are. We really care about this global impact from the foundation that, you know, open philanthropy, good venture fund. It's money from Dustin Moskovitz from Facebook and his family money. They care about like impact and global impact. In fact, the Gates Foundation has also given us money, both non-dilutive in order to impact the global good. And so that's been a part of the, of our mission as always. It's not been about like, can we just make money on high income businesses like the United States, but can we drive the cost down such that anyone can have it and have access to it and get it out there? That vision also becomes important to the people here at Sherlock. You know, we have our first device uses like a battery. And that's okay because again, it's the first time you could ever use and do something simple and still get an answer. And so it's a really huge breakthrough, but we also have the chemistry to do things power free. We're the only one in the world that can do power free DNA or RNA detection. And so we have prototypes that have no batteries. And so we care about the environment. Like we want to, we don't, we care about our environmental impact. We know that the first stage has it, but we already know what the second generation is going to look like. That's going to have even better costs and better for. The environment. Right. And so when you're able to have that vision and people see the success and they're all working towards something that's never been done before, no one wants to go. Everyone stays like we have very, very, very low. Electrician, even in difficult financial climates where we might have to like, let people go and things that might destabilize other companies. But for us, it's like, we just stay together. Family. Like we're sad to see our family members go and, and all the rest still like huddle together. And like, we care about our mission. We want this to be successful. And that's how, that's how you build a startup company.

Jon - 00:34:26: Absolutely. And I think having that kind of the mission at the forefront is incredibly important when, cause like with the startup journey, it's not always up into the right. There's always going to be a dip. And when you're in the trough and you get out of bed and you decide whether you want to throw in the towel or not, it's kind of like that underlying mission that will like make it such that you won't give up. Mercy is if you could care less about it, you know, maybe it's like you, you're going to start looking elsewhere. So, which is like.

Bryan - 00:34:56: That's exactly it. And I think that like, and again, like remember at Pfizer, where we were like buying and laying off every single year, like you could be a big company, small company, good times, bad times, jobs are not for life anymore. And so what keeps people in companies is mission and the respect and trust and transparency that they get from their management and their people around them. And just that feeling like you belong. That's what keeps you here.

Jon - 00:35:20: Absolutely. Can you talk a little bit about your strategy for raising capital during hard times and any tips for anyone who's embarking on that kind of fundraising journey?

Bryan - 00:35:31: So I think if you're able to show how you're, you know, at the very beginning, you need to be able to say, here's the unmet medical need. Here's the problem I'm solving. And here's why it's so compelling. Here's how I'm going to bring a product to market. Here's how we're going to be successful as a business. Here's a short and long-term strategy. And here's why we're going to be able to solve it. And the competition's not, and we're going to be able to ring fence that, be best in class. Everything that I've talked about, you've learned it from my career. If you can put all that case together, and then you get investors who actually believe in it, then that's, what's going to be a winning proposition to get through any difficult times of money, right? Because you've brought in believers and you have to bring in multiple believers. Like I've seen companies that have like one major shareholder. That's challenging because if one person isn't convinced, then they're not going to be able to do it. And so I think that's a really good strategy. Or if they all have to pony up all the money themselves, it becomes a very big cost. But like, if you can have many different investors, like we have with Northpond and Novalis and Illumina Ventures and Albany Capital and a good venture fund and people like David Walt and others, like, and they're all involved in this and they all get it from the get-go, they'll see you through. And I think what happens oftentimes is companies in difficult times start losing sight of the mission. They start trying to pivot to like a short-term gain or something. And in the end that will not make you succeed. And in fact, it will distract you such that what would make you succeed is further down the road and not where it needs to be. And so I always say, if you got it right, stay the course. But also, you need to always still be worried about like, what is your pipeline? What are your backups? You know, like pharma taught me you can't have one drug in your drug pipeline. Like you need to have backups and you need to have others and they need to have different risks, right? And so you need to be able to push on one horse, but have a few horses in the wings that are kind of slowly pushing forward as well that have different risk profiles too. So stay on mission, stay focused, don't deviate, but bring multiple products forward at the same time that have different risk profiles. Like that's how I look at it.

Jon - 00:37:38: Absolutely. And it reminds me, I can't remember, it might've been Bezos and Buffett, but it's like, you know, it's basically highlighting the importance of like your investor selection. And you get the shareholders that you deserve. And you want to be very cognizant on who you are bringing onto the cap table, that they're aligned with the mission. Because if someone isn't, you know, and for whatever external factor, you know, they need to pull the rip cord, that can completely derail a company. Like you mentioned, like having just like one, you know, kind of all your eggs in one basket can be, you know, can be a scary thing.

Bryan - 00:38:15: Right. It's what happened to, you know, the company that we acquired since bot detection, like one major shareholder. And when, when that one decided, like, this is not where I'm wanting to focus anymore. And then it makes a struggle. And so again, you learn these things along the way, right? If you have the luxury of being able to have a broad bench and get the right people, try to get the right people around you all times, whether that's the people you worked with, whether that's, you know, your investors, whether it's your board, like really important, people are important.

Jon - 00:38:44: Yep. Absolutely. And the kind of last thing that just reminded me of like in 2020, 2021. It almost became just like an afterthought of like finding that alignment. It was kind of just this thing where it's just like big number load, like that the, it was maximizing purely for the economics of it, but maybe not the kind of, I wouldn't call it like, it's more qualitative in nature. It's like, are we in the same boat to even begin with?

Bryan - 00:39:10: That's right.

Jon - 00:39:11: Taking the numbers aside for a moment. Like, it's just like, you need both.

Bryan - 00:39:14: You do. I think also you need like things change. Like you need platform, you need pipeline, but you need to be able to focus on your first product and you need to have a path towards good revenue and, and understand that, but you can't, you know, you have to have those things and you have, and you will move in different directions, three-dimensional space, but you need to be in that space. Like you can't just be jumping to new spaces all the time. Like, right.

Jon - 00:39:38: Yeah, that's exactly it. And, you know, you mentioned sense by detection and the recent acquisition merger M&A event. Can you talk a little bit about that? I know you mentioned also UK, so.

Bryan - 00:39:49: Yeah, it was, you know, as I mentioned about Sherlock, you know, we have novel chemistries and we purposely built device platforms that can house those chemistries that have high accuracy and that can take that high accuracy, put it in a form factor to anyone can use it and that they could afford it. Right. Like that's our goal is like the chemistries have to enable low cost technology and like, you know, like devices that people can use at home that hit a certain price profile and ease of use. Sherlock. We had, we were building one of these device platforms. We had our synthetic biology, room temperature amplification technology. We had our CRISPR technology. We learned that the customer would really like a disposable format, like a format, like that you would have a pregnancy test or use it once for a COVID test. You use it once, you throw it away. It wasn't, we weren't at the point yet that we wanted to have a device in your house that you would reuse over and over again, because there wasn't enough assays to do that yet. Right. And so we knew that our power-free, platform was still years away from being there. And when we looked at the competition and we saw that sentence biodetection was a lot like Sherlock. They had a novel chemistry that we already knew about that we were jealous about. Like it was a great fast amplifier of DNA RNA, like they amplified up DNA RNA in five minutes, which meant that you could do it like in a doctor's visit and under 15 minutes, like super fast. Right. And they had a disposable device for that chemistry that hit our target cost product profile that we needed to. Right. And so we just said, and we also did all of our chemistries and work on that platform too. And so it just, we reached out to them to like merge, like if there's two companies that are competing in the same space that have like cool chemistries and cool device platforms, wouldn't it be better to actually like just be together so that all that investment dollars could go further. And then we realized that, oh, there was like some financial constraints or whatever. And so we acquired the company, but it was because of those fundamentals, great people, great science, great chemistries, great devices. And that's what Sherlock was. And that's what sense was. And it made sense for us to come together.

Jon - 00:41:52: That's awesome. And yeah, I love it. It kind of gets, harkens back to what we were talking about earlier, just about this collaboration. I think it was when you're talking about Roche and PerkinElmer. 

Bryan - 00:42:00: Oh, man.

Jon - 00:42:01: To go back. It's just like this thing in science where just like, why can't collaborate or competitors collaborate?

Bryan - 00:42:08: Well, so Paul Meister, he used to be, him and his partner, Marijn Dekkers, they used to run Thermo and Thermo Fisher. They merged them together to become Thermo Fisher, which is one of the biggest diagnostic companies in the entire world.

Jon - 00:42:18: Yeah.

Bryan - 00:42:19: He heads up Novalis Life Sciences, which is an adventure. They let our series be. And so after we closed series B, when I came on board and we started moving forward in this direction, he said, Brian, like the frothy market is over. We need consolidation is going to happen in the market. So you should be looking out for like what things would be helpful for your mission. Right. And we looked at a whole bunch and Sense was definitely one of them. And we're always looking for other technologies that might help us with sample prep or help us with some other like blood or urine or things that like that we want to have in the future that we just don't have yet. And we'll always be able to look out for it. But that was really driven by him. And again, you're always learning from people.

Jon - 00:42:57: Yeah, no, certainly. Thermo Fisher, very household name, like forever for all the listeners. I'm sure abundantly familiar. Well, this is so exciting. And, you know, as we look forward a year or two from now, and I know you mentioned the launch in 2025, but what's in store for Sherlock in the next year or two?

Bryan - 00:43:17: I always look for analogies and people are always like Apple. I'm like, no, we're like Netflix, right? And actually an investor asked me this, like that's not invested in a company. Like, what would be your analogy? And I said, I thought about it one night and my, one of my best friends, Andrew Marshak, who runs a nice great company out of San Francisco and mental illness, you know, he said Netflix, Brian. I'm like, you're right. It's Netflix because everybody was going to Blockbuster. Like everybody's going to LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics and they're getting their tests done there. These big central labs. And then all of a sudden somebody's like, no, you can actually get DVDs in the mail. I'm like, oh, we can actually like send it to them in the mail. They can like get us through online services or whatever, you know? And initially like a Netflix, you're getting DVDs in the mails of Sherlock. You're going to start getting like a Clementine gonorrhea test gonorrhea test in the mail, or you're going to buy it the store, but hopefully you just get in the mail. You don't have to leave the house. You can have Uber Eats, drop it off, whatever. So you have it there, right? One by one by one, you just get this one test. You get another test. Our pipeline expands. You know, we get into a whole bunch of different home tests. You want different people, want different ones. And then all of a sudden people are like, God, I'm testing this. I'm testing this. I'm testing that. I'm testing all these different products. Why don't I just now have this device where I can download or I can subscribe to the different tests I want? And so they move away from a disposable and eventually will move to some type of permanent little small little reader that can do all this different diagnostic testing for them at home. And not only are we, Sherlock, developing content for that platform, but the whole world, just like when I was at Roche Diagnostics and they licensed PCR to everybody, the whole world is now creating content on the platform that exists in the home that brings tests to other places. And that's how I see the vision of us moving from one test to multiple disposable tests in all different markets. Our platforms grow to have power free, lower cost, better environmental. We get more and more menu on these devices. People start wanting a lot of home testing. So we give them permanent ability to do that at home and other people start developing content. And then like Netflix, Netflix now makes their own high value content, like not just committee tests, but like tests that no one's ever heard of, like new movies. Same thing at Sherlock. We'll start developing because we'll know all these customer bases, content that no one's ever knew about and launching that onto that platform as like the market leader in decentralizing and democratizing tests globally. And we're not going to be just here, but we're going to be all around the globe. You know, we have our global mission. We're already working with Bill Gates and others to get there. And so this will be an impact on a global basis.

Jon - 00:45:47: What an exciting future. Honestly,

Bryan - 00:45:49: It's all about multiple technologies too, though, because when you look at something like our first generation of testing with committee, I got to read it like, yes, no questions. But when you want to start taking the cancer tests into home for home early detection, if you want to start taking prenatal tests or tests for your children home into that one, you're moving out of infectious disease. And that is where with our CRISPR portfolio, CRISPR enables that type of high complexity test to move into a simple use too. And so again, it's like to have a vision, you can't just have the first piece. You have to have the first piece, the next piece and the future pieces and gather up more pieces from around to like make that vision happen. It's not the first idea. It's just a hundredth idea as well. And so I want to throw that out there too.

Jon - 00:46:37: Absolutely. For the BioTech Stars Podcast, we have two traditional closing questions. And Bryan, again, you've been super generous with your time. But the first question is, would you like to give any shout outs to anyone who's supported you throughout your career? And I know you've already given shout outs already.

Bryan - 00:46:50: Yeah. I mean, the people that always stand out to me the most I've shouted out before, it starts out young with Richard Brown, John Taylor, Alison Carey, Gina Drossos, Jim Burns, Burns, Marco Polo. These people have influenced me in all different ways. You learn from them. I mentioned Paul Meister, David Wall. These are just like all-star. And when you can learn from all-stars, someday maybe you might be lucky enough to be an all-star to somebody else. I don't know. We'll see.

Jon - 00:47:21: Absolutely. And if you can give advice to your 21-year-old self, what would it be?

Bryan - 00:47:26: Yeah, it's a hard one. 21, I was a little bit... Yeah, I wouldn't say... Two ears, one mouth. I talked a lot today, but you can learn a lot more from listening. And I would say, listen to all the people around you. You can learn so much from them. So that's what I would tell myself, Bryan, two ears, one mouth.

Jon - 00:47:45: And great advice. And I would also probably give the same advice for my 21-year-old self. I think I probably like hearing myself talk way too much. So I definitely empathize with that. Well, Bryan, thank you so much for your time.

Bryan - 00:47:58: Thank you.

Jon - 00:47:58: This has been super fun and really, really insightful. Maybe next time we can double click, like after the launch and the go-to-market and we can talk a little about the intricacies of that. But thanks again for your time.

Bryan - 00:48:08: Hey, thank you, Jon. Great talking to you.

Outro - 00:48:11: That's all for this episode of the Biotech Startups podcast. We hope you enjoyed our three-part series with Bryan Dechairo. Be sure to tune into our next series where we chat with Grant Ahrens, co-founder and CEO of Fabric Nano, a developer of biocatalysts for high-volume industrial applications. Fabric Nano uses a data-driven approach to enzyme and immobilization engineering using biocatalyst materials that can be manufactured by the ton. They support a wide range of clients from startups to international chemical companies looking for highly stable and effective biocatalysts. Grant is also an angel investor in pre-seed, seed and series A startups who believes in supporting entrepreneurs so they can innovate faster, by leveraging founder networks and sharing their insights. Before starting Fabric Nano, he was an entrepreneur in residence at Entrepreneur First and resident analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. His experience rapidly growing his startup and investing in others offers insights for other founders to benefit from. The Biotech Startups Podcast is produced by Excedr. Don't want to miss an episode? Search for The Biotech Startups Podcast wherever you get your podcasts and click subscribe. Excedr provides research labs with equipment leases on founder-friendly terms to support paths to exceptional outcomes. To learn more, visit our website, On behalf of the team here at Excedr, thanks for listening. The Biotech Startups podcast provides general insights into the life science sector through the experiences of its guests. The use of information on this podcast or materials linked from the podcast is at the user's own risk. The views expressed by the participants are their own and are not the views of Excedr or sponsors. No reference to any product, service or company in the podcast is an endorsement by Excedr or its guests.