Jeff Kim - Slingshot Biosciences - Part 3

Bucking the Status Quo | Raising Capital During Peak COVID | How To Find & Retain Great Talent | Building Partnerships with Distributors

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Show Notes

Part 3 of 3. My guest for this week’s episode is Jeff Kim, co-founder and CEO of Slingshot Biosciences. Slingshot designs and manufactures synthetic cells for R&D, clinical diagnostics, and engineered cell therapies, aiming to overcome supply chain and cost barriers that restrict access to advanced diagnostics and therapeutics. Jeff is a serial entrepreneur, having co-founded and run multiple successful companies, including Radiant Genomics, which was eventually acquired by Zymergen, and Pattern Ag, a company mapping soil microbes to help farmers grow their bottom line. Before Radiant, Jeff was a scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and was the project lead for jet fuel development at Amyris Biotechnologies. 

Join us as we sit down with Jeff as he discusses how he assembled his team at Slingshot in the early days, what it was like raising venture capital during the peak of COVID-19, and how as a team, they came up with their company culture and found their North Star. Jeff talks about his experiences working with distributors as part of their global expansion, and how the idea of picking distributors relies on forming a solid partnership. Lastly, Jeff discusses the exciting future in store for Slingshot and gives us a sneak peek into the growth of the business.

Articles & Resources

How to Start a Lab in 2024 https://www.excedr.com/blog/how-to-start-a-lab

Biotech Startup Support https://www.excedr.com/resources-category/biotech-startup-support

Guide to Reducing Startup Costs & Expenses https://www.excedr.com/blog/startup-costs-and-expenses

What Should Investors & Founders Expect From Each Other? https://www.excedr.com/resources/investor-founder-expectations

First Steps a Founder Can Take https://www.excedr.com/resources/rd-startup-funding-first-steps

Funding https://www.excedr.com/category/funding

Series Funding Explained https://www.excedr.com/resources/series-funding-explained

How to Bootstrap Your Biotech Startup & Scale https://www.excedr.com/resources/how-to-bootstrap-biotech-startup

VC Firms for Biotech in 2024 https://www.excedr.com/blog/top-vc-firms-for-biotech

Need a Co-founder? https://www.excedr.com/resources/do-you-need-a-co-founder-for-your-startup

How to Spin Out of Academia & Into a Startup in 2024 https://www.excedr.com/resources/how-to-spin-out-of-academia-and-into-a-startup

Biotech Funding for Startups https://www.excedr.com/resources/biotech-startup-funding-options

What Is Startup Valuation & Why Is It Important? https://www.excedr.com/resources/startup-valuations

Staffing Your Startup: Hiring Slowly & Intentionally https://www.excedr.com/blog/staffing-your-startup

How VC-Backed Startups Win When They Lease https://www.excedr.com/blog/how-vc-backed-startups-win-when-they-lease

Cost of Capital: Definition, Significance, & Formula https://www.excedr.com/blog/cost-of-capital

People Mentioned

Episode Guest

Jeff Kim is the co-founder and CEO of Slingshot Biosciences, a biotech that designs and manufactures synthetic cells for R&D, clinical diagnostics, and engineered cell therapies. Slingshot Biosciences' mission is to overcome supply chain and cost barriers that restrict access to advanced diagnostics and therapeutics.Jeff is also a serial entrepreneur, having co-founded and run multiple successful companies, including Radiant Genomics, which was eventually acquired by Zymergen, and Pattern Ag, a company mapping soil microbes to help farmers grow their bottom line. Before Radiant, Jeff was a scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, and was the project lead for jet fuel development at Amyris Biotechnologies.

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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 Jeff Kim about his time in graduate school, his move to the West Coast, and his experience founding Radiant Genomics. If you missed it, be sure to go back and give part two a listen. In part three, we talk about the founding team at Slingshot Biosciences, what it's like raising venture capital during COVID-19, and Jeff's experience working with distributors as part of their global expansion.

 Jon - 00:00:50: Okay, so now Radiant has, you know, you basically... Now part of Zymergen/Ginkgo, and now you're into the Slingshot era. And Slingshot was kind of, it was actually simultaneously with the Radiant. So basically Radiant went one way and then Slingshot just like continued on. 

Jeff - 00:01:10: Yep, that's right. 

Jon - 00:01:11: And was this, like founding team, like was this a completely different squad than the Radiant folks? Or how did that come, like how did it come to be?

Jeff - 00:01:25: For sure, for sure. There was, so the co-founder of Radiant was also co-founder of Slingshot. And then we had two other co-founders of Slingshot early days. I think it was very appealing for us because it was supposed to be this rapid M&A. We had the acquisition, a soft acquisition offer even before we founded the company and then immediately after sending manufacturing. Um, sort of validation a lot. So we had a hard acquisition offer. So I think for most of the founders, the thought was it was a quick win. We'll sell the business and move on. So I would say the other founders did not have full-time roles in the business. It was kind of a part-time role and it was supposed to be quick exit, everyone would be happy. What ended up happening is it turned out to be this long slog. So in that journey. The other three founders were in other active roles in the business. Sorry, it was more or other confiners. And one of them is still with us today, Anh-Tuan. So he did also another full-time stint in Gilead, but decided to come back. School time when we capitalized and started raising. And, absolutely critical strategic and operational partner to me. We wouldn't be here without him. Fantastic manager. He's got really good EQ. So in the business development side. Really trustworthy partner for our customers. I feel lucky to have him on this journey.

Jon - 00:02:47: Absolutely. I think about my co-founder like in that same regard, like all the time. He is Jeff. Jeff Totten is, I would say, we're opposite sides of the same coin. But that's like what I found to be perfect. And we have like healthy disagreements all the time, but it's never, it's never out of, like, it all comes from a good place. And that aspect has been, you know, completely integral. So I know exactly how, you know, I share, I empathize with that, with that feeling with your co-founder. And so the early days for Slingshot, I guess to just like level set for the listeners here, you know, could you talk a little about like, what was the state of the market? You know, and how did you think about Slingshot kind of like? Basically bucking the status quo and just a kind of level set. So people know like what you were looking at as an opportunity set.

Jeff - 00:03:44: Yeah, yeah. The original opportunity set was very, very narrow. So it was, we knew this massive instrument manufacturer had this big problem that they couldn't solve. And it was almost a tongue-in-cheek joke when they threw the problem out there. They were like, oh, if you could make a synthetic cell, you would solve this huge problem of ours. And it was over beers. Dinner that we were talking to some business partners there. And that's when the light bulb went off for me. I realized, hey, I can actually solve this problem. And then several other people at the dinner. Worked in other industries and they were complaining about something else very related. You know, some of them were in biopharma having to pause clinical trials because they couldn't get reference for two. Others were installing manufacturing for various things and they're having issues with QC. And I realized, hey, if we make a synthetic cell, we can solve all three of these problems. Go after it. But the very first problem was for this instrument manufacturer. And that's when I immediately quit Amorous. And within a week, I purchased the capital equipment that we need. Week two, it had already arrived, ready-made exactly what we needed to make, because we knew, and sent down the validation lots of their team and they loved it. I think. From the get-go I knew what needed to happen and I was like oh this is a nice profitable one-man operation in the basement. Let's just keep this rolling. But then after that, you know, soft slash. Like semi-firm M&A bid. And when I started to do the VOC, I realized that the potential, which is enormous. Beyond for manufacturers like this. Cell line replacement is really the big one. And it became even more important as cell and gene therapy and cell therapies became popular, the need for cell and gene therapy. And there's no solution for it right now. So people are literally hiring armies of people to to make cell lines for themselves and blending them together and dealing with batch valuation and bridging studies. It's just a huge amount of overhead that ultimately impacts the cost of the drug and slows down the speed of it. So it's impacting patients. And that's when I realized we need direction. And pivot away, not away from, we're still working on it. Add on. This selling theory. To our business because that's where our real impact is.

Jon - 00:06:00: That is incredible. I love how kind of a dinner. Can kind of like can turn into something like this. And kind of like a half joke, it can like turn into something massive. And so now you're like, okay, this is a very large market or opportunity set. Maybe doing this bootstrapped out of the garage, one person is not going to take us to the promised land. And so now you're basically going the venture route. What was that experience like? And it sounds like it was your first time raising venture capital. What was that experience like? And any lesson that you take with you to this day about doing the fundraising roadshow?

Jeff - 00:06:50: Yeah, yeah, for sure, for sure. So I've been personally involved. And raising capital in other businesses. But for a business that I started, you're right, this is the first time. Raised capital. That was odd. I would say it was peak COVID. That's the one thing that was hard. So not having, not being able to meet. Your business partner on the other side of the table. Was very strange, especially if you didn't know them already. That was strange. And then the whole diligence process was very arm's length. Usually it's a pretty intimate process when I come to this. See how you present yourself, check the facilities out. It was all done in FaceTime. So I'm holding up my phone, showing the labs and like, you know, doing all this stuff. It was very surreal. Net-Net, it was efficient though, because we didn't have to fly around and take that turn cycle. I would say that it was extremely helpful to have built a network and venture to get this started. I was able to have conversations that would have been very difficult, if I were just reaching out and spamming investors. So that time in venture capital was pretty important. So getting kind of a seed network of trusted people there. Was good. And then I think it also helped that when I talked to investors. Um It was very helpful for them to see that I had been on that side of the table. I know what. They're looking for in a lot of ways. What terms are market and what are a little bit overreach so we can quickly avoid that stuff. And then ultimately what they're trying to do from a personal career perspective, like, depending on where they are within their fund. At a level or how old the fund is or what the fundraising environment is. Knowing all those dynamics is really important to understand. Your customer and ultimately your customer. So that was good. But the overall process was pretty atypical because it was all virtual. All from my daughter's bedroom, largely on my laptop. So it was a trip.

Jon - 00:08:46: Yeah. That was a thing. It's like now we're kind of like on our way out of it or have been out of it. What a strange time. And so. During that, so you raise your venture capital and you just got to start putting the capital to work. Building, I'm going to assume there's a lot of more hiring that was taking place and even more, I'm going to assume more R&D and go to market. Can you talk a little bit about the company culture at Slingshot? What is the North Star for you guys? And what is your approach to high and great talent and retaining great talent?

Jeff - 00:09:22: Absolutely. It's a great question. So I think our North Star has always been that we want to improve access to therapy. If you think about the most impactful way to do that, it's to find a picks and shuffles tool that touches every part of the therapeutic development lifecycle. And that's cell lines or controls in our opinion. And we believe that, especially with new modalities like cell therapy. I'm coming up with new categories of precision controls that will help speed up manufacturing, improve manufacturing quality. Improve manufacturing accuracy, help stratify patients better. Even though it's a simple product, those control products can have a huge impact on the number of available manufacturing slots and the number of patients you can treat. The cost of the therapy, the time it takes to manufacture the therapy. The likelihood of adverse outcomes, all of that can be impacted with better controls. So that's always been our North Star. Is making healthcare more accessible. And on the rare disease side, it's even more acute. A lot of rare diseases, you cannot get any reference material consistently, so you can't run a clinical trial. So you have to call up a primary cell bank and just call and if you have a cohort of patient with XYZ disease and they'll say no. Watch your crown. So it's a very fragmented and disruptive process that's ultimately limited by supply chain of these reference cells. We can unlock that entirely and print any rare disease. One of the satisfying. We are engaged pharmacologists. Do that in addition to some large. Regulating bodies, which we'll announce in Q4 sometime. So that has always been our North Star driving mission, I think. From a company culture perspective, we're very hands-on. I think that rolls down from my style. If there's something that we can do faster without getting outsourced contractors or an FTE in, I'll just do it. A lot of times, I'm still kind of de facto plumbing and IT guy.

Jon - 00:11:10: So it's like, my XYZ app isn't working. Let me just get in there.

Jeff - 00:11:17: Exactly, exactly. It's just faster for us to do it, right? So I think that I've toned down a lot of that since we've scaled past a certain point. I get feedback that it's a little intimidating. People feel the pressure to be able to do a lot of the stuff themselves, but that's not my expectation. Um So the culture is pretty roll up the sleeves, I would say, as a result of that. At the same time. I'd like to give people a lot of autonomy in the business to find the path. So ideally, you build a team that, it was all perfectly aligned on the mission, like super self-motivating going, but what happens in any business when you reach a certain size? It starts to become more of an investment to make sure that mission and that vision is maintained and communicated. Right. That's really what we're investing in right now. We're going through a lot of growth, a lot of changes, and the growth is always painful. I've been in, this is probably my seventh startup, thinking about the studios and the other ones. Every single time it's painful when you go this fast, but. We'll say the core team is aligned on the mission, and we've got a great set of operators and leaders in the business now that are going to take it in great directions. The other thing I think that's important, you know. Going back to my venture experience. You always have to think about what is best for the business, even for myself, right? If we reach a stage where I think there's an operator profile, that would grow the business better and faster. It's absolutely my job quite identify that person and we'll bring him or her, um, I think being kind of passionately like, why did your idea and holding onto it to the death. Is not good. It's good to have drive and motivation and resilience, but you have to have an objective view on the business as an independent entity and ask constantly whether you're the right person to be running it, right? So I think that self-awareness is really important to instill confidence with investors too, right? Because they don't want some crazy battle in the future about holding onto control, et cetera. Amen. If it's clear to everybody. Founder and someone needs to change them, they should make the change.

Jon - 00:13:14: That's like really, and I appreciate the candidness about that because I think. You know, I totally understand. Like as a founder, the company feels like your child, like you put life, you like, you put life force into it, but it takes an incredible level of like maturity to be like, hey, look. I'm a zero to one person. Like I'm not a one to end person and that's okay. But I want to get to that end. Like I want, I want that. So kind of like being like, okay, perfect. Like we'll find, you know, if, if needed, like we'll get someone who's really good at that. And I think it's like. It's almost like a, can be like a weight off your chest. Cause I went exactly what you were describing, kind of these like inflection points and growth spurts. I originally like, you know, when it was just me on a dining room table, of course, I had to do everything. There was no one else to do anything. But eventually, when you get to a certain point, there's not enough waking hours in the day to to do all that. And you end up wearing like two hats, maybe more than two hats that are more than full time jobs. And you're just like. It's time to take one of them off and share the burden. Just share the work. So that's really, really fascinating. And I love hearing that because it's hard. It's hard to do. It is a painful thing.

Jeff - 00:14:40: Yeah, yeah. It's like the med school thing, right? I know that the self-realization, like there's no way that I would enjoy that process. Wrote memorization of thousands and thousands of pages of medical textbooks. There's probably very little chance I would enjoy running a 5,000 person company and managing, you know, that entire mess, right? So I would gladly. Handoff at a certain point.

Jon - 00:15:05: Yeah, yeah, totally. And, you know, talking about your kind of the growth and the sales motion and go to market. I know, you know, you guys are selling in the United States, in Canada, in Mexico and all over the world. But I know in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, you're selling direct, but you also work with distributors. Can you talk about, you know, how your experience expanding globally and what were when did you know it was time?

Jeff - 00:15:31: Yeah, yeah. I'd love to go into detail there. It was also a very challenging and surreal experience, I would say. Because it's pre-COVID. So the original tactic was all inside sales and it was all catalog product inside sales. We had a limited number of staff that would allowed here physically. And we, you know, weren't able to get any customers. So it was... Um It was the right strategy at the time, but it was a very difficult one. So the only way, this is retrospective learning. The only way that would have worked is if we like, had massive brand presence already. Because we're ultimately going head-to-head with the thermos, the BDS technicals in the world and big life science strategics. And they have the brand presence where they can just send out emails and with a new product announcement, and then you get, you know, a million people viewing it and there's a certain percentage that'll buy and you can keep coming in. For us, we tried that. It was very difficult to go head-to-head. We were an unknown company at the time. So I think in retrospect, we should have done that. Out there. It was tough again because conferences are one of the main venues on the ritual. But I would say we did the right thing at the time to try to grow. And we had a set of SKUs that have a global presence. Europe is definitely the second market or EMEA. In an Apex, very close third. So we knew we had to sell that otherwise we'll be money on the table. So that expansion happened. We built an inside sales team originally during COVID. We realized after about a year that things were starting to thaw in terms of on-site visits, and the team composition we had was not necessarily the right one. And that's a really hard decision to make. Still very close friends with our former sales leader, but his experience was squarely in kind of the inside sales, transactional sales world. And he and I both realized, okay, this is not the best fit for the business. And this is where... I think he showed a similar level of just incredible maturity. He's a believer in the business. Business he's purchased And he realized that he himself was not the right person to take it to this next phase. So we came up with a transition plan, identified a commercial leader and a new strategy. And made those changes. But I think that selflessness or that self-awareness. Um, It's very different from Academia. Academia, your project is yours. Ride or die type thing and you want soul authorship. Yeah, you want like soul authorship ownership. In a business is about a team and it's about the business as in independent entity. Um, That's always the best way to approach it, I think, as a founder. 

Jon - 00:18:11: I know you sell direct and work through distributors. How do you pick your distributors and what makes for a good distributor partnership?

Jeff - 00:18:19: Yeah, yeah, great question. I think when you go to market through distributors, there's definitely negotiation involved to trying to find the best deal to get the products out there. But I think the key thing is you need this kind of dating period, if you will. Like a short period where you actually are measuring performance and asking, I've been living up to their word. And then doing the simple math calculation doesn't make sense to maintain with this level of discount or can I do better going direct with an FTE or two in their region. So this dating period can be painful. Some of the distributors do very poorly and totally miss targets, and some do really well. But you just have to be honest and ask, are they members of the team that are contributing, or are they actually hurting you from that regard? And then from that lens, it's pretty easy, this side one. It's cheaper initially. A distribution payment is free. Largely, you're just getting a discount on your product typically and some initial maybe freebies. But I think. Once your brand presence reaches a certain point, you're starting to get direct inquiries past a certain threshold. You have to be very clear about that ROI calculation. Go direct and you have to have contracts that are short enough where you can make those decisions 

Jon - 00:19:33: Totally. What would you say are some of the biggest challenges and triumphs that you've learned while running Slingshot?

Jeff - 00:19:43: Yeah, biggest challenges. There are challenges all the time as a startup at this stage. I would say the most important learnings are... You know, it's very difficult to balance team composition and goals. Right. You all set out with a set of goals and you hire into what you hope will reach those goals. But you have to be very... Very clear to yourself and honest with yourself and honest with your team about when you have the right people to meet those goals and when you don't. And it's always a balance. You always, you know, my style is to give people the opportunity to succeed and give them the resources to succeed. And to see if, you know, basically develop a partnership with that individual to see if this works on both ends, right? And in some cases, as I mentioned, with our former sales leaders, who I'm still close with. It was a really great partnership while it was here and a great partnership afterwards. And we came to that conclusion together, about the change in strategy, the market dynamics and whether it was good or bad to continue down the pathway. One of the hard things is when you can't always expect that level of maturity. It depends on their experience, it depends on where they came from, their previous work history. And that can go. It becomes very challenging sometimes, like dealing with that much change. Especially if it's not handled very clearly or very professionally. I think that's the hardest part about growth because in growth, there will be change, the definition of growth. And then finding people who are all aligned with that and all comfortable with that. Which is why, one of the things we like to see in a resume is prior startup experience because everyone's kind of been through that and had their stripes. People who have been at big companies only, they're not used to that level of disruption or change or reorganization. And it can be very jarring, and the reactions can be sometimes negative, but they can be great and sometimes not, as well, as I mentioned. And, so the learning there. I think it's important to determine instead of framework and be honest with yourself on something. And make a decision around making a change to the best interest of the rest of the team and the rest of the company. And I would qualify that as less of a learning, but more maybe a reflection, because we have been doing that. It's hard to go through that. I call it kind of micro changes instead of the macro ones you read about in the news. If you don't make those small changes frequently, you end up with headlines and massive riffs and heading in the wrong direction or complete strategic reorganization. And that's not healthy for a business. It's very painful to go through. So I prefer the small pivots instead of the massive resets. So I think that's been. Difficult to handle culturally, I think, the team. Sometimes it gets a little nervous, but we always talk them through that. Like, here's the rationale why we're doing it. The other thing is, as successors, we are very transparent with what is going on. About all of our finances, we share with the entire team, which is very unusual. Runway finances, deals, et cetera, just to give people, and also education about what this stuff means, just to give people the chance to know what is going on and to treat them like adults, right? I hear too many stories. Friends, colleagues, etc. Walking into work one day and their keycard doesn't work. It's just a unilateral decision made by management and there's some massive financial malfeasance or something happening underneath and no one was talking about it or they're out of cash and no one told anyone. And then you walk in and it's like, what's going on? That's the last thing I ever want to do to the business. So I've always been really transparent. And sometimes that freaks people out because it's TMI. But sometimes, you know, most of the time people appreciate it because they know. Um, other learnings, I think. You know, to your point, delegating to really trusted lieutenants is probably the number one priority for anyone in a management position in the entire company. And I'm very happy with the leadership team I have in place taking on a lot of those functions now. I think the next challenge is going one layer down. Making sure that my reports are equally comfortable with the team put in place. And I always use the analogy of hiring people. And it's absolutely what you should do if you want to scale the organization and scale yourself. So it's hard to find those people. The challenging environment for most of the 10-year slingshot. But, you know, we have found some real gems, so I'm really happy about that.

Jon - 00:24:08: Absolutely. It's crazy. Throughout our conversation, there are so many times where there are parallels that I thought I was weird for doing because we also share quarterly financials internally. I've always found that to be, you know, that that kind of transparency is important because at the end of the day, everyone's on your team. Like we're all rowing the same boat. We're like we when we win, we win when we lose, when we lose. So you ought to know what the heck is going on. So that rings true for me. And I love hearing that. So, you know, looking forward in a year's time, two years' time, what's in store for Slingshot? And, you know, can you give us a little sneak peek?

Jeff - 00:24:51: Yeah, for sure. Sure. So the thing I'm most excited about now is that our products are being integrated. Into on-market therapeutics like today. And that is not something I thought I would say for a long time. When we started working in regulated markets or with regulated clients, like pharma clients and so forth, I always thought that we would need to engage them during preclinical development. Wait until some sort of approval and then our control products would be part of some process. It turns out that there's such a dire need and just a total lack of third-party controls that they're unregulated right now. The FDA wants to find sources of controls, but there's no regulation. So these companies just DIY themselves. They make their own cell lines and blend them together and do all this labor. So that's been really, really satisfying. So I think, we want to see that happen in every on-market CAR-T and CAR-NK therapeutic that's out there. We want to help those companies increase manufacturing capacity. And you're nationally fascinated. So I want that to happen next 12 months, and I think we can get there. We have some touch points into all the customers. We want to have a deep engagement and be directly touching me on market therapies, which would be great. I think after that, you know, just continuing to expand applications. So we have identified new applications in vaccine manufacturing. That wants to help there on various multivariate food programs or oncology programs. We also have some touch points into additional rare diseases. We want to see that expanding. So largely expanding alongside the verticals that we have, which are at a very high level of solid tumor, liquid tumor, rare disease, and then vaccine. The other thing that we have going on, which I haven't talked about at all and we don't publicize, is we are actually functionalizing the cells themselves. Into a therapeutic modality. So we're trying internally to use the synthetic cells as the drug instead of helping to manufacture a cell-based drug. And that work is very exciting, exceptionally fast. So I would love in the next year for us to get. Additional data to see what we might want to do with it. We might spend it on a separate company, for example. But there's a, there's a lot of really fun innovations in material science that we are applying to solve that problem, and we think that we can create a product. That is far more scalable in terms of manufacturing than an autologous cell therapy, for example.

Jon - 00:27:09: Very cool. That's exciting. I'm super pumped for you guys. That's incredible. I like to round things out. I think that's a very exciting place to kind of wrap things up. I have two traditional closing questions. And the first one, I realize you've kind of already referred and alluded to folks who've had a large impact on your trajectory, but are there any additional shout outs you'd like to give to anyone who has supported you along the way?

Jeff - 00:27:32: Absolutely. I think the list would be endless. In fact, there's a lot of people who have taken bets on me when they shouldn't have. It's some comment that you made before. Yeah, obviously my family, again, the formative experiences I've had as a kid. Just the DIY experiences of doing everything ourselves and at least learning the process. That includes my parents, my sisters, two other sisters. They were really, really important, helping me do that. And then throughout my education. And I would say the undergraduate education and exposure to research and laboratory work. Was also very formative. Summer internships that I picked up at Woods Hole, the Comp Bio, and that's where I was reaching out to the UCSF professors. Everyone in that ecosystem, Brian Shoichet, Andrej Sali. Again zero reason to write back to me whatsoever, but to some random kid who was in high school effectively. Yeah, but they were really helpful in that journey. And then when I was an RA Tarun Kapoor at Rockefeller. By far the most influential technical person in my life. He really put a ton of trust in me to drive research they never ever would have had exposure to and really ignited my passion. The other experiences I would say, obviously, my co-founders today and have passed. Very informative business partners, friends, colleagues. As you know, you end up spending sometimes more time with them than family. In aggregate. So you get to know them very closely, and you go through ups and downs together, but you get to know those people really well as a result, and they'll be forever part of you. Going forward, part of me. And then, as I mentioned before and hinted at, even the challenging experiences. I'm not sure if I would thank the individuals directly because the experiences were challenging, but the overall experience was extremely informative in terms of learning what you don't want to do as manager, you don't want to do as XYZ. I think that has been really important fo guiding, the way I operate and the way I, you know, strive to operate in the future. The ecosystem as well. There's been a lot of investment, not from an individual necessarily, but from City States, institutions, etc. Helping kind of. Innovation and entrepreneurship. The Bay Area is... From that regard. Everyone asks why I think start here. It's because of my ecosystem. It's not because of the money is here. There's a quorum of other founders going to the same thing. There are ancillary support resources for equipment, Apex, infrastructure, legal advice.They got all of this, is just all congealed and concentrated around here, so it's a really good environment. So, I definitely think the fact that I'm here. And then, yeah, the first exposure to industry was by way of Chris Patton, who was a... One of the first scientists at Amherst. Took a flier on me as well and had me out there for the internship. That was a life-changing experience. And the number one person is definitely my wife. We went for a very long time. With zero salary. Not a euphemism, like literally zero dollars in salary. She never blinked an eye or skipped a beat on that. She always had faith that I'd be able to turn the businesses into something. That could help the world. Wouldn't have survived literally without the support for all these years. 

Jon - 00:30:48: I got to give shout out to my wife, Chloe, as well. It was the same exact experience. And I couldn't be more grateful. And I honestly don't know a better place to kind of wrap things up. Jeff, thank you so much for your time. This has been an incredibly fun and insightful conversation. And honestly, it's, I think. There's so many kind of lessons and kind of just valuable insights that I think all our listeners are going to, really resonate with. So I appreciate you taking the time to come on the podcast and, you know, the next time I'm in the East Bay, I'm not too far. I would love. I'll give you a shout and maybe we can, we can talk, we could chat some more over a beer or dinner and kind of have one of those eureka moments. But yeah, yeah. Jeff, thanks again.

Jeff - 00:31:35: Appreciate it. Thank you so much. 

Outro - 00:31:38: That's all for this episode of the Biotech Startups podcast. We hope you enjoyed our three-part series with Jeff Kim. Be sure to tune into our next series, where we chat with Martin Brenner, CEO and CSO at iBio. IBio uses their AI-guided discovery platform to tackle complex and challenging drug targets and develop safer and more effective immunotherapies for difficult-to-treat cancers. Martin has an extensive background in the life sciences and has worked for some of the largest names in the business, including Eli Lilly, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Merck. His deep insights into the biotech space offer much for founders to learn 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, www.excedr.com. 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.