In the dynamic world where medicine and entrepreneurship converge, Dr. Rahul Kakkar stands as a beacon of inspiration. His journey, seamlessly blending the realms of healing and business, reflects a commitment to leaving a lasting impact on both individuals and the biopharmaceutical landscape.
His latest project, Polaris Partners, has top companies in its portfolio such as Bark, Inc., Blackthorn Therapeutics, Inc., Crossbow Therapeutics, Inc., and KenSci, Inc.
In this episode, you will learn:
- Rahul Kakkar seamlessly combines his medical practice with building and scaling companies, driven by a desire to make a positive impact inspired by his father’s sacrifice as an immigrant.
- Rahul’s interest in entrepreneurship sparked during a medical rotation in Tanzania, where he delved into Ayn Rand’s books, leading him to envision using tools to advance medical solutions, bridging his passion for medicine and entrepreneurship.
- Rahul’s shift from academic research to business was influenced by mentors who recognized his strategic thinking, leading him to AstraZeneca, where he learned drug development from Don Frail, a drug hunter with a passion for creating new medicines.
- Overcoming challenges and rejection from Astrazeneca, Rahul co-founded Corvidia Therapeutics, focusing on an anti-inflammatory compound for cardiovascular diseases, ultimately achieving a successful exit with a $2.1 billion acquisition by Novo Nordisk.
- Rahul emphasizes the importance of compelling clinical data and timing in successful acquisitions, stressing the need for transparent storytelling and avoiding spin to ensure the deal aligns with the true potential of the pharmaceutical asset.
- Rahul highlights the role of strong data and strategic timing in Pandeon’s $1.8 billion acquisition by Merck, emphasizing the importance of honesty in evaluating the readiness of a drug for a deal.
- Joining Tome Biosciences, Rahul sees the potential to define the age of genomic medicines, emphasizing the company’s focus on curing diseases through genetic engineering and cell therapies, with the aim to create a lasting legacy in biopharma.
For a winning deck, see the commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400M (see it here).
The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks
Remember to unlock for free the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
About Dr. Rahul Kakkar:
Rahul joined Polaris Partners in 2021 and serves as an entrepreneur partner. He is a biotech executive and physician-scientist, founding and building biotechnology companies as well as working as a practicing physician.
Most recently, Rahul was Chief Executive Officer at Pandion Therapeutics, a company focused on therapeutics for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, which he led from Series A through its clinical transition, initial public offering, and its ultimate acquisition by Merck for $1.85B.
Prior to joining Pandion, Rahul founded Corvidia Therapeutics, a precision cardiovascular company, where he served as Chief Medical Officer and Chief Strategy Officer. Corvidia Therapeutics was acquired by Novo Nordisk for $2.1B.
Across his companies, Rahul has led fundraising totaling over $300M to date.
Prior to Corvidia, Rahul served as a director in the Emerging Innovations Unit at AstraZeneca, where he was recognized with the AstraZeneca Leadership Recognition Award.
Rahul continues to practice cardiovascular medicine at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and is a lecturer in medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Rahul received his B.A. Cum Laude from Tufts University, where he was a member of the Golden Key National Honor Society.
Rahul also has an M.D. from the Tufts University School of Medicine, where he was the recipient of the Louis Weinstein Prize in Clinical Medicine and was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society as a junior. He also served as an Albert Schweitzer Fellow.
See How I Can Help You With Your Fundraising Or Acquisition Efforts
- Fundraising or Acquisition Process: get guidance from A to Z.
- Materials: our team creates epic pitch decks and financial models.
- Investor and Buyer Access: connect with the right investors or buyers for your business and close them.
Connect with Dr. Rahul Kakkar:
Read the Full Transcription of the Interview:
Alejandro Cremades: Alrighty hello everyone and welcome to the dealmakerr show. So today. We have a really exciting founder. You know a founder that they not only has build but scaled finance and then also exited not 1 but multiple companies and we’re talking in the billions. So um, again, you know today we’re going to be talking about. Learning and applying what you learn from 1 rodeo to the next also scaling especially on very complex environments also being able to be open-minded and to do great stuff. Not a lot I’ve been doing a lot with less sorry you know, especially you know now as we’re thinking about the macro environment and things like that. You know, thinking about structuring your business also taking your nose off you know from the weeds and and being able to look you know the horizon and think and get creative. You know in in our case, you know with our guest today I mean he’s been practicing medicine in addition to building and scaling companies all along the way. So. Again, incredible stuff what we have ahead of us so we no further. Do let’s welcome our guests today Raul Kakar welcome to the show so originally born in Hamburg but not that you had the opportunity to see much you know because you came here to the Us s.
Dr. Rahul Kakkar: Alejandro. Thank you so much I appreciate your interest.
Alejandro Cremades: At the age of 1 so give us a walkthrough memory lane. How was life growing up.
Dr. Rahul Kakkar: Yeah, absolutely um I think my father came here. Um as an immigrant from India by by way of Germany really looking for a better life for his family. Um and did well enough in the steel industry and in Lynn Massachusetts um very very middle class. Ah household. Um, really to set me up frankly, um, to to try to make a better impact in the world and I think I take a lot of my inspiration from from him and what he sacrificed coming here. Um so I think growing up obviously between 2 cultures is always a bit challenging. Um, but certainly ah, wanting to make sure that I leave the the world. A better place. Um, than than I came into it. Um, largely the legacy of my father.
Alejandro Cremades: Now you went to Boston you know, most of the time for for the school. Um, you know part of it but at what point you start to get into the whole medicine and and helping people out and and stuff like that. What were what? what? what did the where did that calling come from.
Dr. Rahul Kakkar: I think um, when I was in in high school um in Belmont massachusetts I think my you know coming from a very conservative home There was very few career pads that were afforded to me. Um, medicine was certainly one of them. Um, but I knew from the very beginning that although there was a lot of pressure to move into medicine that that practicing medicine full time was not going to be enough. Um, it’s going to sound sound a little um trite perhaps but during an away medical rotation. Um, when I was in Tanzania Africa. Um, I actually was reading many of Ian Rand’s books and and became inspired with this idea of knowing how to use tools. Um in order to be a better toolmaker. Um, and I think that really sparked my interest in not just helping people but furthering the tools we make and use. To help people and that that really was where I found this bridge between both medicine and entrepreneurship that has carried me. You know, really for the last two decades
Alejandro Cremades: Now 1 thing that is very interesting is how initially you thought that things were going to be out for you on the research side of things maybe more on the academia and how that has matured more nowadays into the business side. But obviously you know you’re still. You know practice on the medicine side of things as a doctor but at what point you know like do you realize that hey maybe academia or research you know is not so much what is there for me and my future but more perhaps you know the business and practicing walk us through. What were the sequence of events that needed to happen how you experienced to academia because you did quite a bit you know, research there when it comes to cardiovascular and inflammation and and so really good stuff that I’m sure that he gave you an incredible base and background. Ah, but but walk us through those sequence of events.
Dr. Rahul Kakkar: Yeah I think you know harkening back again to some of those stories. Um that I read when I was in medical school. You know, many of those protagonists had a very profound technical knowledge even though they were operating at a higher strategic level and even though my training. Um. Even before medical school when I was doing research in the summers during college at Tufts University but then particularly between medical school and residency when I was in Chicago for 3 years doing a postdoctoral fellowship and then in my cardiology fellowship when I did a second postdoctoral fellowship at the bench doing the science. Recognize you know that I am a physician scientist at heart. Um, but I naturally think strategically and I think the spark or or the idea that perhaps academia was not my path really came from 2 individuals in my training. Um, the. Ah, program director for cardiovascular training at Mass General Hospital very early I think recognized that that I was somewhat of a black sheep and was likely to head outside of academia and he very early started connecting me with venture capitalists in the Boston area even during my first year of fellowship and then you know later on in my fellowship as I entered the lab. Um. I had many um debates um robust debates very healthy debates with my principal investigator with my pi um, who was very clear at what it would take to become an academic researcher and um, honestly it was a tough realization but my heart wasn’t in it. I was always thinking about how.
Dr. Rahul Kakkar: Pathways and compounds I was working at could be used to create new medicines. Um, and you know what the Nih wanted was more basic science and so it was very clear. There was a disconnect. Um, so at the end of my fellowship. It was a tough decision but I sort of abruptly decided that I was not going to not going to pursue academic medicine any further. Although I still wanted to treat patients I never wanted to be too far from the bedside.
Alejandro Cremades: So out of all things why Astroceneca was the door that you thought was the most exciting to knock on.
Dr. Rahul Kakkar: Yeah, you know Astrazeneca itself as an organization was not the draw. It was an individual um it was it was Don fraill and I think if you look at as I think back about my career over the last ten plus years since finishing fellowship at least. Um, it is really marked with profound influence of certain mentors and individuals along the way. Um I’ve mentioned a few already my program director at mgh my lab pi at at mgh um, and then the gentleman Don Frail at Astrazeneca who was building a very exciting group within Astrazeneca but it was really learning. How to develop drugs from him that was a real draw because like I said when I was in my fellowship all I wanted to do was make new medicines to treat patients who were suffering from the limited tools that we have and and he really has a passion for being what he calls a drug hunter and I think that was a real draw and and even since then through the um. Through the world of of biotech. Um I’ve just had individuals who have trusted me put their faith in me seen seen potential in me and and I’ve used that as a source of of both confidence but also as a source of saying. You know I want to do do good by these people who seem to trust. Ah, trust me and put their faith in me.
Alejandro Cremades: So so then with astroceneica obviously you know that was like the first day you know real experience when it came to business. How was that for you and what was the biggest lesson that you took away from that day from that journey.
Dr. Rahul Kakkar: Ah, my goodness. Um, ah hunter if I could tell you in retrospect how green I was coming out of academia into drug development for the first time it’s almost embarrassing. Um, but I had not just Don frail but the entire group. Um, what was called the new opportunities group. At Astrazeneca ah, mostly based in the Uk all of who became friends over time. They were incredibly patient with me incredibly generous with their teaching ah generous with their time and they really many of them took me under their wing. And you know I’m sure we’ll get to this. But as I think about the culture that we’re building at tone biosciences now much of it is drawn from that early open exuberance that we all shared at Astrazeneca all of us trying to help each other be the best drug developers we can all of us working together very little ego around the table. Um, and that’s very much the culture that we tried to build at tone biosciences and I think why even in the 2 years. We’ve been operating. We’ve been so successful. Um, that that cultural piece that that was part of that group at asrazeneca that Don Really Fostered um is how you bring out the best in people.
Alejandro Cremades: And we’ll talk about that in just a little bit now tell talk to us about venturing into the unknown with your first company with the first company that you were really a founder you know at which was Coredia therapeltics.
Dr. Rahul Kakkar: Yeah, core video was was really the extension of the science I had been doing it at mass general in terms of my inflamm in my interest in inflammation and cardiovascular disease. Um, and it was a bit of a rocky path to get there. Um I was in Astrazeneca we myself and another scientist um created this hypothesis around using an Astrazeneca molecule an antibody against ah, an an interleukin il six which was in very in many ways related to the the research I was doing at mgh prior to leaving. Saying look. There’s a real unmet need for addressing the inflammation and the risk inflammation poses to heart disease but Astrazeneca has its own strategies and that concept was very much off strategy and I remember in the summer of must have been summer of 2015 we brought the concept to the cardiovascular therapeutic area and they deemed it too high risk to pursue. Um, it was one of the most difficult summers of my life because I was at at at 1 point crestfallen that’s something I really believed in as a scientist and a physician as a cardiologist. Um. Was not something that a large pharmaceutical company saw as on strategy. Um, but then later that summer as I began to speak to pascal soio the Ceo of Asrazeneca about my passion for this area which I knew he shared because I knew he loved the target and the pathway. Um, he really helped support.
Dr. Rahul Kakkar: The out licensing of that compound into core video therapeutics a new company and so I spent all of 2015 really with his support and the support of another mentor Michael Davidson who’s continued to be a friend and mentor a very successful physician scientist and entrepreneur in his own right? currently in biotech and in clinical practice starting that company. Um, so I think you know again, it’s it’s a story of really having the sport of people who see the best in you and believe in your passion and supporting your passion that really allowed me to generate escape velocity outside of Astrazeneca to start corvidia.
Alejandro Cremades: And they’re in Corvidia for the people that are listening. You know what were you guys really doing what was the essence of coryia.
Dr. Rahul Kakkar: Yeah, core video was in essence a single asset company formed around this compound out of Astrazeneca um medi 5 1 one seven a meimmune antibody um which we renamed zlta vecomab but it’s an anti l six compound. Um and we really saw. Based on you know my knowledge from my training plus some basic science we did asrazeneca that it had the potential to be a new asset class for cardiovascular disease and so we formed the company. Um, you know a combination of the science that I was passionate about. And Michael Davidson who is the the and original Ceo of that company his ability to bring in investors um to form that company to start clinical trials of that compound in patients with cardiorenal disease and the reason cardiorenal disease is patients who have. Both cardiac and renal disease have very high levels of inflammation. But Michael really taught me the very first you know, put me on the very first rungs of climbing that ladder of what investors are looking for how to translate the promise of science into.
Alejandro Cremades: So so the company I mean which is amazing first company that you found first exit and the company ended up getting acquired for two point one billion by noble nordisk back you know a I think it was in June 2020 so
Dr. Rahul Kakkar: The thesis for investment.
Alejandro Cremades: What do you think made this company. You know so successful and be able to achieve such a tremendous outcome like that. So.
Dr. Rahul Kakkar: I think that the acquisition of Korvidia by Novo and as I’m sure we’ll talk about the acquisition of Pandeon by Merck my second company were the tail of really 2 ingredients. The first is very compelling clinical data. I think you know we are in the business of making medicines and I think sometimes it’s easy to forget that this isn’t just a business. Um, this is a business for societal. Good um, and that societal good rests on the foundation of phenomenal data and I think the thesis was correct. The compound performed excellently in its first and second clinical trial phase two a and phase 2 b um and I think that was the first ingredient. Um, just two very consistent and um, profound clinical trial results and the second piece was honestly a bit of luck. Um, we were in the right place at the right time Novo and Nordisc was looking to build their cardiovascular franchise that was their first major deal in quite a while particularly in the cardiovascular space. They were growing their um presence in cardiovascular with the s g l t two inhibitors. Um, and we have the right data. Um, at the right time on strategy for a company novo that was looking to put real money to work and and they’ve continued right now that drug is in a large phase three clinical trial cardiovascular phase three s are multihundred million dollar prospects and so they’ve continued to stay.
Dr. Rahul Kakkar: Very committed to the field. Um, so I think the combination of strong data and then you know having your ear to the tracks of what the strategies are for large strategic companies so that you are in the right place at the right time this old adage Fortune favors the prepared. Data can make you prepared but in order to have the good fortune of being picked up by a large pharmaceutical company who believes what you believe? Um, you have to be aware of the strategic imperatives of those companies and that takes a bit of luck.
Alejandro Cremades: So so so in that regard to I mean luck you know at the you know day I hear you but luck you know is opportunity. You know meet say preparation right? So in your guys’ case you know when it came to being prepared to go through a transaction of that level. Ah.
Dr. Rahul Kakkar: Um, and.
Alejandro Cremades: What was the process like you know what? what? what is typically the process of getting an acquisition like that make us make us insiders. So.
Dr. Rahul Kakkar: Yeah, absolutely so I can speak more to the process at Pandeon as I was a chief medical officer of Corvidia and ah the second Ceo of that company mark de garridell in the head of business development Rama are really led the transaction but again like I said I think. Having the right data um is ah the foundation. But it’s not the house. Um, the house is really built on that data in terms of telling a story and telling a story that involves the commercial potential of the of the pharmaceutical where it fits in the competitive landscape. Not today’s competitive landscape but the future competitive landscape. Um, and being very very transparent about the potential of your medicine I see a lot of business development professionals who are out there telling a story that frankly is a bit too much spin.
Dr. Rahul Kakkar: I liken a transaction in biopharmaceuticals as being equivalent to a luxury car and what do I mean by that what I mean by that is when you walk into um, a mid-level car dealership you’re being sold at a product when you walk into a high-end car dealership. Nobody’s trying to sell you anything the car sell themselves. These are beautiful machines made by people with passion and I I think a good drug that is built by scientists who have true passion with a data validates that passion. It’s it’s educating and it’s informing your counterparty of what you see but you never have to spin. Ah, the good data sells itself and so while you do have to be in the right place at the right time and and your your point is well taken. Um, that luck is is preparedness and opportunity. Um I do think that you know being very honest with yourself. Um, you know as as 1 consultant. Told me not being afraid to say when your baby is ugly and maybe perhaps needs more research needs needs more work is it the right time to be telling the story or is it the right time to keep your head down and execute until the story is more refined. Those are some of the nuances of doing a deal that I think get overlooked because. I don’t believe that a deal can ever be engineered I believe that a deal gets done at the right time on the right data and sometimes you have to be very honest with yourself that it may not be the right time.
Alejandro Cremades: And you are alludic to it. You know with a with pendion. You know, basically one point eight billion acquisition you know you got acquired by Merrk ah I mean unbelievable. You know one after the other and what ah what a straight here and now now in your case you know I want I want to ask you there. When you think about timing when you think about timing to to to do a transaction to get your company acquired when do you know is the right time to sell the business.
Dr. Rahul Kakkar: Ah, so the short answer is never um I never try to sell a business. Um I’ve never intended to sell a business particularly at Pandeon where I was Ceo and intimately involved in the deal with our head of Bd a very very talented head of bd vicascoyle um. Merk had been following our progress for 2 years they had started with proposals to acquire our lead asset then codevelop that our lead asset and and every time we looked objectively at at what they were offering and said look they’re undervaluing the asset at least what we. We objectively think the asset is worth like I said we didn’t engineer the deal. We didn’t. We didn’t bluster and and take a position that was unreasonable. We didn’t bluff. This wasn’t poker. We honestly felt that merk was undervaluing the compound as they they made various proposals over the first two years and and at the end of the day we put our money where our mouth is we we told them that that their deal proposals were were not. Aligned with our view of the of the value of the compound and we raised a series b we told them that their deal proposals were not where the new ah de-risking um data was and that we were going to execute Ipo and we did. We told them that the compound had great potential to be first in class. Um, they didn’t execute and so we put the the drug into clinic and you know the data revealed it was best in class and so I think in many ways again I don’t believe deals can be engineered or spun I think if you truly are honest with the data and honest with yourself.
Dr. Rahul Kakkar: Then you can execute a deal on your own terms from a position of strength I Think that’s the most important point. So. It’s not so much about engineering the time it’s you know a company will come to you and not take no for an answer if you have you know done over time. What you said you would do. And have generated data that is really above above approach. Um, and so that that like I said means very much to be honest with yourself in terms of of your own data.
Alejandro Cremades: So in this case Raul you know I guess say that you and I can both agree that we’re very fortunate because we’re girls dadts now and I think that when you are a girl’s ah dad. You tend to be more in tune. To your emotions you know and this is something that they perhaps you know we we learned you know when when we are you know in a in a household with the with with with this young ah women now I think that if you have that in mind you know you’ve also had the opportunity as well to practice. Um, you know as as as in medicine you know all along the way which is remarkable at the same time that that you were building those companies and I guess my question is from an emotional perspective which I would say patient has impacted you the most. And why? why.
Dr. Rahul Kakkar: It’s a great question and and no I agree with you I think being the father of daughters is a very very special opportunity and experience and um, you know whether whether they’re daughters or sons I think raising children with particularly has to become teenagers as my 2 older are um and they um, challenge you. Emotionally to stay calm under fire to see the bigger picture. Um you know teenagers fundamentally are self-centered. That’s not that’s not a negative comment. It’s the stage of development that they’re in um, they force you to see the forest for the trees and stay calm and I think many of those. Emotional qualities that takes you know it’s a muscle it takes years to develop that emotional resistance I’ve learned from my daughters and I’ve learned from the field of cardiology cardiology is all about being calm when a patient is crashing. Um I would say the patient that I learned the most from was during my training obviously won’t mention names for for privacy purposes. Um, but this was a patient who um, came into the hospital um under my care while I was in training um with um, very aggressive atrial fibrillation which is an abnormal heart rhythm. Um, so aggressive such that it was threatening her vital signs her her heart rate was very high. Her blood pressure was very low. Um, and no matter what we did um to assist this patient. Um, whether it was medicinally or trying to to shock her heart of the rhythm she was proving refractory. Um, this was a woman who was an immigrant um from um South America um she spoke very little english had very little education.
Dr. Rahul Kakkar: And completely trusted us to do what we thought was right and I gave her um a dose of a drug to control our heart rate. Um that is is a drug that’s very tricky to use um has a very very small therapeutic Index Shall we say which is to say that the the dose between efficacy and toxicity is very very narrow. Um, and unfortunately um, she generated toxicity from the drug. Um and took a turn for the worst. Um, we were able to pull her through um but I remember running that code at her bedside with the entire. Ah you know Rapid response team from the hospital. Ah, gathered around the bed I had the dual feeling of um, profound guilt that you know had I done something inadvertently to harm this patient. Um, but also competency that I knew I could pull her through and she ultimately did make it through that procedure. But I think the trust um of of a patient. Ah, in extremists. Um the recognition of competency to help but also the limits of my competenency competency um all kind of hit me in that one moment during that code and I’ll never forget her.
Alejandro Cremades: Wow now in your case, you know the business side doesn’t stop and the next thing you know chapter is Tom Biosciences so why why? why did you decide to take this one on and why did you think that it was meaningful enough. You know the problem to really go out it again.
Dr. Rahul Kakkar: Yeah, as as I look back to the summer of 21 after the exit of pandeon by Merck the late spring early summer and then joining tome at the end of the summer early fall I spent that summer doing a lot of soul searching. Um, it was a great summer spent a lot of time with my daughters spent a lot of time at the gym. Um, and a lot of time. Um, you know taking hikes and walks which you know which I love to do I love being being out um in the mountains of of new england um, and I was not sure that I was going to jump back into another company. Um you know Corvidia had been a single asset company in an area that was very passionate about with his inflammatory heart disease. Pandeon had been a whirlwind eighteen months from series a to ipo and exit um is is almost unheard of um, ah needless to say I was exhausted. Um and I spent the summer of of 2021 um you know meeting with investors um meeting with fellow entrepreneurs. Getting a lay of the land and and as the end of the summer came along. You know I thought you know there’s nothing really out in the biotech world that I find next level which is to say if I’ve gone from single asset company to platform autoimmune company from Corvidia to Pandeon there was nothing that I was seeing that was really you know. Wider in scope and scale and potential societal impact. Um, and so I was sort of resigned to you know maybe I should just do some board work for a while at least you know keep my my my toes in the water continue to practice medicine as I’ve done all the way through um, but then I was handed this paper by a recruiter.
Dr. Rahul Kakkar: From the founders of of tome Omar Abaaiah and Jonathan Gutenberg were both at mit. Um, and I was um I was I was blown away I was lost my breath. Um, some of the biggest limitations in the world of genetic engineering for selling gene therapies. Were overcome by this technology and and I had not really taken a strong interest in selling gene therapy and and and genomic engineering technologies that underpin these drug classes because I fundamentally have always been the developer of drugs for common diseases cardiovascular disease autoimmune disease not really in the rare disease world. But here was a technology that had the potential to create a company that would span both rare and common disease. It was almost like building a large pharma. Um, but startup um and the potential impact to really leave a legacy a lasting legacy on biopharma um. With this technology and the company that I could see building off of this academic paper. Um I had no choice but to jump in and jump in right away.
Alejandro Cremades: So if I was to give it the opportunity of going to sleep tonight brahul and you wake up in a world where the vision of Tom is fully realized what does that world look like.
Dr. Rahul Kakkar: Yeah, it’s a great question and I think it’s quite simple. It’s the world of curing disease. My entire career has been about treating patients and developing drugs to control disease to slow the natural history of disease. Outside of infectious diseases and vaccines. There are very very few diseases. We can actually cure There are some cancers. There are very few cardiovascular disease mostly in in the world of arrhythmias. But but there are very very few diseases. We can cure. We generally control or slow them down. But I think what genetic engineering underpinning cellling gene therapy affords us the possibility of actually curing disease I was speaking to a very good friend of mine Dan Curran who’s ah the head of rare at Tacada um, been a friend of mine for over a decade and and someone who. You know over drinks after work. We talk kind of big ideas in biotech quite often. Um, and and we were remarking. You know both of us are trained as physicians that we weren’t using the word cure ten years ago um and so you know waking up in a world where tome is what I believe it can be which is the defining company. Of the age of genomic medicines which I fundamentally believe the twenty first century as we look back? Um, you know 50 years from now. Ah Twenty first century will be the age of genomic medicines just as the twentieth century was the age of um of antimicrobial and anti antiviral therapies. Um.
Dr. Rahul Kakkar: That that Tome will be a company that defines the age and defines the age by bringing cures to rare genetic diseases through its gene therapies and cures to more common diseases through the the broad application and the democratization of cell therapies.
Alejandro Cremades: Now you are combining all of this with Polaris’s partners what are you doing at Polaris I mean it’s like yeah. Ah, when do you sleep I mean you have so much on your plate between practicing medicine. You know now with Don now. Also you’re throwing in their polaris I mean what? what are you doing at Polaris as well.
Dr. Rahul Kakkar: Yeah I’m I’m a bit of ah a James Bond Geek so I’ll use the phrase of gustave graves one of the villains. There’s plenty of time to sleep when you’re dead so you know life is short and and we make the best impact that we can while we have time on this earth both in our families and our professional lives. Um, you know Polaris um I had not anticipated joining a venture firm. Um, after after Pandeon um, but in the course of Pandeon I got to know Alan Crane who was the chair of the board at Pandeon and is on the board at tome a Polaris entrepreneur partner who started over 10 companies a great inspiration and mentor to me. Um, and and he asked me to get to know the Polaris um partners um and managing directors over the course of the summer of 21 and as I did I realized that these were a group of individuals who shared the no ego pure passion approach. To drug development and and investing and I recognized. Um, you know, perhaps after Allen did that there was a lot to be gained by being part of that group both in terms of views of the industry that I would gain by by being part of a venture firm but also having you know people of high integrity to discuss. The issues of the day with um and so um I was humbled when they asked me to join um I do spend part of my time there. Um, as an entrepreneur partner which is you know, helping them start. New companies. Um I joined a board of an existing company and.
Dr. Rahul Kakkar: Recently started a new company with them that’s still in stealth mode. So you know you know most of my time is with tome. Um, but I do spend a portion of my time both in the hospital and at Polaris starting new companies and and helping young companies. Get off the ground.
Alejandro Cremades: And probably there’s a lot of people that are wondering why you know still practicing medicine and why still at the hospital. How would you say that having that you know still going and having been you know practicing medicine all along the way you know? Ah you were really pushing. Startups which is like absolutely unbelievable. How would you say that that has helped you to really get your eyes above the weeds and being able to think you know and being able to get you know, really the strategicness done.
Dr. Rahul Kakkar: Yeah I will say that the ability to continue to practice medicine while being in in biotech and the investment world is really something that humbles me because it requires a lot of support requires a sport of my. Leadership and executive team at tome to allow me to go into the hospital for a week at a time it allows you know an understanding from the university um, because there are um, you know a lot of scrutiny of academic institutions around this interface between Academia and and biotech and business and and there’s a lot of concerns around conflict of interest and and. Division of cardiology at the brigham has been very supportive of my career. Um, and so I have to really thank both the brigham and women’s hospital and Harvard medical school as well as the investors and management teams I’ve worked with to allow me to do all of the myriad things that I do. But I think that. You know one week a quarter approximately that I go into the hospital and I see patients in a concentrated manner. Um, even if it’s not necessarily the kinds of patients that we’re developing drugs for yet at at home. Um does give me that that moment to mentally switch gears. Perhaps the best way to to. Analogize here is um, it’s like leaving your home country for another country where you speak the language when I go into the hospital is very much speaking another language. It’s pattern recognition of a different sort. Um and it really helps me think about the decisions.
Dr. Rahul Kakkar: The the critical decisions with limited information that patients families and physicians have to make every day as they’re facing life and death decisions. Um, as they are diagnosed with a disease and offered a treatment plan and then to come back into the company having had that. You know, exhausting yet exhilarating switch um is is like coming back to you know to the Us my home country from visiting another country that where you speak the language you have a fresh view and a fresh look um on everything around you Um, and so for me it it. Might sound strange that that clinical service which is rigorous um is a break but from that mental standpoint from that perspective it. It really is that chance to recognize what we do and why we do it I think in Biotech Um, you know, particularly for those who who, Um. Spend their time with their with their head in cap tables and pnls and and pitching which is the day job. Um, it can sometimes be abstract to think about the patients we serve. But I really do encourage all Entrepreneurs. Um and executives to not just spend time. With physicians as Kols but with physicians to understand why they do what they do the integrity and passion. They bring to their job and frankly I think as Biotech executives we should be echoing the integrity and the passion of physicians in what we do every day.
Alejandro Cremades: So let’s say I put you into a time machine right now or a hole and I bring you back in time you know it could be back in time to that moment where you were thinking about switching from research to business or maybe you know even a tiny bit later where you were thinking about. Starting your own company after you know, giving your notice perhaps at Astro Seneca so let’s say you are able to have a sit down without younger Raul and you’re able to give that younger role 1 piece of advice before launching a company. What would that be and why given what you know now.
Dr. Rahul Kakkar: You know I I think when we talk about the risk of starting a company I never saw you know despite the had I had you know two young daughters at the time. Um I never saw starting a company as a real risk because I had true confidence in the science and the unmet need. Um, but perhaps um I could have been a bit cooler under fire. Um, and I think you know over time. This is what we learned we talked about it raising teenagers or or managing teams you learn that the ah the emotional acuity in the you know. In the moment um doesn’t always mean you have to become activated. Um, and so I think you know I was I was sometimes ah a bit of a bull in a China shop as a younger younger man very ambitious, very hungry. Um and very passionate. Um, and I think I probably would have told him to to take a breath every once in a while. Unplug for ah for a bit. Um good things will come um and they’re more likely to come with less gray hair if you if you see the forest for the trees.
Alejandro Cremades: I Love it. So ah, rahold for the people that are listening that will love to reach out and say hi. What is the best way for them to do so.
Dr. Rahul Kakkar: I’m I’m actually very very ah accessible both through Polaris or through tome and I’m always happy to to speak to to those who have interest.
Alejandro Cremades: Amazing! Well hey roll. Thank you so much for being on the deal maker show today has been an on earth to have you with us.
Dr. Rahul Kakkar: And pleasure has been mine. Um a humble Thanks all andro.
If you like the show, make sure that you hit that subscribe button. If you can leave a review as well, that would be fantastic. And if you got any value either from this episode or from the show itself, share it with a friend. Perhaps they will also appreciate it. Also, remember, if you need any help, whether it is with your fundraising efforts or with selling your business, you can reach me at [email protected]