Private: Selling a Breakthrough: Keros Therapeutics Series B Financing Positioning Strategy
Thomas Backus, Amanda Brennan, Angela Keithahn, Rosa Kondri, and Priyank Raje MBA
Subject area: Startup Companies, Series B Funding
Region: Massachusetts, United States
Company: Keros Therapeutics
Challenge: It is now late 2018, and over the past 2.5 years, the Keros Therapeutics research team has developed KER-047, a novel first-in-class therapeutic for FOP. The asset has been shown to be safe and effective in preclinical development and is ready to head into clinical trials. However, being only Series A venture-capital funded, Keros Therapeutics is not sufficiently capitalized to fund ongoing clinical development. To continue the development of KER-047 and ultimately bring a treatment to FOP patients, Keros Therapeutics faced the challenge of positioning themselves as an attractive investment prospect in the search for competitive advantage in the investment market. Additional funding must be secured in the next 6 months or Keros Therapeutics will run out of capital to continue operations.
Project Relevance/Our Team
Our focus as a team was to gain more knowledge about funding startup companies, particularly as they navigate the challenges of funding prior to an IPO. Our team consisted of individuals with experience and interest in Healthcare and Social Enterprise, so it was a great opportunity to work on a case for a Startup Company in the Biotechnology space.
Our goal was to gain our clients’ trust by understanding their problem-challenge as they prepared to position themselves to compete against other biotechnology companies for Series B funding in the Venture Capital market. We each utilized our own specializations in business strategy, management, finance, biotechnology, project management, and data analytics when analyzing Keros Therapeutics and the Venture Capital market they would be competing in, as outlined below:
- Thomas Backus: BSc in Neuroscience and MBA Candidate. Biotech research scientist and founding employee of Keros. Utilized research, portfolio management, and corporate strategy expertise to assess the positioning of Keros in the investment market.
- Amanda Brennan: BA in Sociology and MBA Candidate. PMP and CSM certified for Project Management. Utilized project management experience to organize the project and the team’s assignments. Used history of working with biotechnology research & development to provide recommendations for the customer.
- Angela Keithahn: BS in Accounting, BS in Economics, and MBA Candidate. Utilized previous experience working with a healthcare company that had a successful IPO. Used prior experience in operations management and accounting to recommend strategic organization changes to appeal to investors.
- Rosa Kondri: BS in Business and MBA Candidate. Masters in Higher Education and Graduate Certificate in Business Administration. Utilized program development and funding strategies to research potential funding options.
- Priyank Raje: MS in Pharmaceutical Sciences and MBA Candidate. Utilized business development experience in the biotech industry, implemented data collection methods and business strategy learned during Strategic Decision in Changing Environment coursework. Additionally, biotech research and development experience helped to frame recommendation and implementation plans.
Social Capital: Understanding the Realities of the Organization & Industry
In order to understand Keros Therapeutics problem challenge in the Venture Capital funding market, our team collected primary and secondary data from over 20 sources including internal company corporate decks, discussions with team member Thomas Backus (employed at Keros Therapeutics), and various online sources that outlined the Series B Venture Capital funding market.
After discovering Keros Therapeutics internal competencies, the team analyzed the external market by utilizing various strategic frameworks (including, but not limited to PESTLE, VRIO, Value Chain, etc.)
In our team’s investigation of the Keros Therapeutics internal capabilities and external influences, we were able to move into our company analysis where we were able to determine strengths and opportunities that Keros Therapeutics could leverage to be successful in this venture.
The consulting team performed a comprehensive analysis to determine the best positioning strategy and corporate strategy steps Keros should take as it entered the VC funding market. Since they needed to portray a competitive advantage over other biotechnology companies competing for funds, the team looked to leverage Keros Therapeutics’ strengths and largest opportunities. In the end, the following key recommendations were made:
- Positioning: Keros Therapeutics should position themselves as a company who has recently undergone a core extension. In biotechnology, this is often referred to as a platform-based strategy instead of a product based strategy. A horizontal growth and economies of scope strategy pairs nicely with this recommendation.
- Company: The company should ensure they consider their portfolio carefully and highlight their star and cash cow programs to investors to show promise as well as their programs that are considered “question marks” in the pipeline to show the potential growth of the company as a platform company.
- Competitive: When competing in the VC funding market, Keros can highlight their strongest competencies to execute a Blue Ocean strategy when speaking with investors to gain their interest in funding the organization.
To support these recommendations, our team advises that Keros Therapeutics:
- Bring in additional team members to support their new cores
- Bring on an experienced Chief Financial Officer to help Keros Therapeutics navigate the Series B investment process
- Contract with a Graphic Designer to visually translate Keros’ capabilities into the investment pitch deck
- Coordinate an investor pipeline prior to the start of Series B fund-raising
What’s Next and Project Utilization
In the consulting state of the project, our team applied multiple strategic management frameworks to ensure a comprehensive analysis was complete. This analysis revealed the strengths and opportunities of the organization that could be leveraged to provide the best competitive advantage.
Our team’s ability to analyze each opportunity while taking into account our clients’ goals led us to make an informed choice. This, paired with our devotion to the project made us turn into creative problem solvers who put together an action plan for Keros Therapeutics to implement by providing them with the best positioning strategy as they entered the Series B fund-raising stage to support their upcoming clinical trials.