Biotech startup school

Event: How to pitch VCs and raise money

February 13, 2020

Learn how the best VCs evaluate ideas through a "mock pitch", and hear their advice on how to run a fundraising process. Panelists include:

  • Julie Grant, General Partner, Canaan
  • JJ Kang, Partner, The Column Group
  • Mira Chaurushiya, Principal, 5AM Ventures
  • Sarah Bhagat, Principal, Sofinnova
  • Rich Gaster, Principal, venBio
  • Cristina Ghenoiu, SVP of R&D Operations, Epirium Bio

Register to attend in person here. We will post a recording after the event.

This event is part of Biotech Startup School. Sign up to stay updated on other events:

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Learn how the best biotech VCs evaluate ideas

What do biotech VCs look for in a pitch? What do they discuss in partnership meetings? How can you run a fundraising process that maximizes your chances of success?

In this event, some of the best biotech VCs in the world will address these questions.

The event will consist of two “mock pitches”: a panelist will play the role of CEO of a hypothetical startup, and pitch to the rest of the panel. The panel will ask questions, critique the idea, and provide their perspectives on whether it is a good investment.

We will wrap up with advice on how to run a successful fundraising process: how to create a target list of investors, how to get intro meetings and assess interest, how to follow up, and how to drive to a close.

The panel is comprised of some of the best biotech VCs in the world. The panelists have all played active roles not just in funding great companies, but in incubating and building companies from the ground up.

Learn more about the panelists below.

About the panelists

Julie Grant, General Partner, Canaan

Julie Grant is a General Partner at Canaan Partners, a tech and healthcare venture capital fund with $5B assets under management. She leads investments and company formation efforts in biopharma and digital health companies that tangibly improve patient care. Since joining Canaan in 2013, Julie has incubated, financed, and supported investments in multiple new biopharmaceutical companies including Nocion, Protagonist (PTGX), Cellular Research (Acquired by Becton Dickinson), Dermira (DERM), Labrys Biologics, CytomX (CTMX), Unchained Labs, Chrono Therapeutics, Genome Medical, Glooko, Vineti and Truveris.

Prior to joining Canaan, Julie worked at Genentech bringing new oncology products to market in roles spanning business development, cross functional management and commercial. Julie served on the board of the Biden Cancer Initiative and co-chaired the IT advisory board for Planned Parenthood Northern California. She holds an M.B.A. from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, a M.Phil. from Cambridge University in BioScience Enterprise and a B.S. in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale University.

JJ Kang, Partner, The Column Group

JJ Kang joined The Column Group in 2015. The Column Group (TCG) is a science-driven venture capital firm that makes significant financial and operational commitments to build early stage drug discovery companies based on their unique scientific platforms and potential to deliver multiple breakthrough therapeutics. TCG’s mission is the generation of fundamentally strong companies, built from the ground up, based on great science and the ability to generate multiple differentiated product opportunities. Previously, Dr. Kang worked at FibroGen in the project management of drug discovery and development programs, and prior to that, in corporate strategy. Dr. Kang completed her PhD at the California Institute of Technology and attended Harvard University for her undergraduate studies. She serves on the board of Tenaya Therapeutics and Escient Pharmaceuticals (chairwoman), and previously served on the Exonics board prior to its acquisition by Vertex.

Mira Chaurushiya, Principal, 5AM Ventures

Mira Chaurushiya, Ph.D. is a Principal at 5AM Ventures. Dr. Chaurushiya joined from Genentech where she was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Physiological Chemistry studying mouse models of cancer and stem cells. Prior to Genentech, she completed her Ph.D. work at the Salk Institute, where she studied Herpes Simplex Virus infections and epigenetics. Her work has been published in Science and PNAS, among others. Dr. Chaurushiya currently serves as an Observer or Member of the Boards of Biodesy, Precision Nanosystems, Purigen Biosystems, Escient Pharmaceuticals, NodThera, Magnetic Insight, TMRW, and Novome Biotechnologies; and was previously an Observer at Ideaya Biosciences (NASDAQ:IDYA). In addition, she is a Fellow of the Society of Kauffman Fellows and serves on the Board of Biotech Connection Bay Area, a non-profit that focuses on career development for academic scientists. Dr. Chaurushiya received a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the University of California, San Diego in conjunction with the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, where she was awarded the Martin Kamen Thesis Prize in Biochemistry. She received her B.A. in Biology from Carleton College. Dr. Chaurushiya is based in the San Francisco, CA office.

Sarah Bhagat, Principal, Sofinnova

Sarah is a Principal at Sofinnova Investments, where she focuses on biopharmaceutical investments. Sarah currently serves as a Board Member for Inozyme and Promedior and a Board Observer for Aeovian, Akouos, Antiva, Neurana, and NorthSea. Sarah previously served as a Board Observer for YmAbs (YMAB) and NextCure (NXTC). Prior to joining Sofinnova, Sarah was a postdoctoral fellow in neuroscience at Stanford University in the laboratories of Drs. Robert Malenka and Karl Deisseroth. Sarah received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Yale University working with thesis advisor Dr. Stephen Strittmatter. Sarah was also a Venture Fellow for Canaan Partners. Prior to Yale, Sarah worked as a research assistant for The Rockefeller University. Before her time at Rockefeller, Sarah was a Clinical Research Coordinator at Massachusetts General Hospital in the Bipolar Clinic and Research Program. Sarah is also an alumna of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business Ignite Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program and is a member of the Neuroscience Translate Oversight Committee.

Rich Gaster, Principal, venBio

Dr. Gaster joined venBio with experience as a physician, entrepreneur, and life sciences investor. He currently serves on the board of Arrakis, Pharvaris, and Aeovian and as a board observer for Akero Therapeutics, Harmony Biosciences, and Impel NeuroPharma. Prior to joining venBio, Richard served as the head of translational medicine at Pliant Therapeutics. As a key member of the initial management team, Richard participated in the formation and launch of Pliant Therapeutics from Third Rock Ventures where he previously served as a Senior Associate. During his tenure at Third Rock Ventures, Richard was responsible for company creation to transform new areas of science into innovative drug discovery companies. He began his career as a resident physician in Harvard’s Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Program. Richard has published numerous articles in top-tier peer-reviewed journals including Nature Medicine and Nature Nanotechnology, holds more than a dozen patents, and was named one of Forbes “30 Under 30” in Science and Healthcare.

Richard holds a BSE in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania where he graduated summa cum laude. He received his MD and PhD in Bioengineering from Stanford University in the Medical Scientist Training Program.

Cristina Ghenoiu, SVP R&D Operations and New Product Planning, Epirium Bio

Dr. Ghenoiu serves as Epirium's Senior Vice President of R&D Operations and New Product Planning. She joined from Longitude Capital where she was a Principal and played a critical role in securing Epirium's $85MM series A financing. While at Longitude, Dr. Ghenoiu was actively involved with multiple Longitude Capital investments as board observer at 89bio (ETNB), Neurana Pharmaceuticals and SutroVax, and diligence lead for CuraSen Therapeutics, Molecular Templates (MTEM), Sublimity Therapeutics and Epirium. Prior to joining Longitude Capital in 2016, she was an Associate Analyst at Cowen and Company where she covered large and small/mid cap biotechnology companies across a multitude of therapeutic areas. Dr. Ghenoiu has a Ph.D. in Chromosome and Cell Biology from Weill Cornell Graduate School of Biomedical Science at Cornell University and undertook her postdoctoral training at Rockefeller University. She has first-author publications in prestigious journals including Science and Molecular Cell and her scientific work received numerous awards and was presented at a multitude of national and international meetings. She also holds a B.Sc. in Biochemistry (magna cum laude) from Mount Holyoke College, where she was awarded high honors for her thesis in Computational Quantum Chemistry.

About the VC firms


Canaan is an early stage venture capital firm that invests in entrepreneurs with visionary ideas. With $5B under management, a diversified fund and over 190 exits to date, Canaan has invested in some of the world's leading technology and healthcare companies over the past 32 years. Canaan’s focus areas include fintech, enterprise/cloud, marketplaces, frontier tech, biopharma, digital health and medtech. To learn more about our people and our portfolio, please visit

The Column Group

The Column Group is a science-driven venture capital firm with $1.5 billion in assets under management. TCG's funds are invested in a select group of early stage drug discovery companies with unique scientific platforms that can change the world.

5AM Ventures

5AM Ventures is focused on building the next-generation of life science companies. 5AM's investment professionals employ a time-tested, hands-on approach to company building and are often directly involved in setting company strategy, management recruiting, business development and fundraising. With over $1.5B total under management, 5AM is currently funding Seed and Series A investments out of their 6th Fund, which closed at $350M at the end of 2018.


Sofinnova Investments is a biopharmaceutical investment firm with approximately $2.1B in assets under management. We invest in both private and public therapeutics-focused biotech companies, in the U.S. and Europe, across all stages of company formation and growth. We seek to build world class companies that aspire to dramatically improve the current state of medical care today and ultimately, the lives of patients.


venBio is a life sciences investment firm that partners with industry leaders to build game-changing medicines and technologies, with a focus on novel therapeutics for unmet medical needs.

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About Biotech Startup School

Bay Bridge Bio has been organizing programs to connect grad students and postdocs with biotech VCs to learn about the industry and find jobs. We've also organized events on biotech VC and startups.

We often get asked whether we plan on offering programs to people outside of the Bay Area. And investors and entrepreneurs have expressed interest in sharing their stories with a broader audience.

Biotech Startup School is a way for any founder, no matter where they live or what stage they are at, to learn more about best practices for biotech entrepreneurship. We know that you are busy, and you may not even be sure whether starting a company is right for you. We designed this course with that in mind -- because the lectures are all available for free online, you can go through them at your own pace, with no commitment.

If you have already started a company, or know that you'd like to do so in the near-term, we are putting together some resources to help you get your startup off the ground. Stay posted for more details.

This course is not formally affiliated with any university or company (other than Bay Bridge Bio). The program will be funded by industry sponsors. If you are an organization interested in sharing your services with a large, global audience of current and aspiring biotech founders, get in touch here to learn how we can help.