My last essay ended on a high note. General Biotechnologies had locked in funding to start animal trials of Nivien Therapeutics for treatment-resistant cancer and we’d just scored a win at the Rice Business Plan Competition in Houston.

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We took first place in our cohort at RBPC.

Since then, we’ve had a series of setbacks. I believe in not only sharing the good news, so here goes: over the past three weeks, we lost in the final rounds of the Roivant Pitch Competition, the i3 Innovation Challenge, and the HBS New Ventures Competition (but huge shoutout to Dorm Room Fund portfolio company Veho Technologies for taking the top prize!).

Then, on my 21st birthday the day before yesterday, we didn’t get Y Combinator. While we were excited to make it to the final interview, we also really wanted to join the community and get the $120,000 investment.

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For the final interview, YC flies founders to Silicon Valley — and the entire conversation lasts 10 minutes. There were 5 YC partners in our interview, including the creator of Pebble and Sam Altman. Sam led the questions, asking about our technology, roles, and vision for the company. Unfortunately, we didn’t make the cut.

But it isn’t all bad news! We’ve just been accepted to the summer season of the Venture Incubation Program at the i-Lab and we’re still in the running for the MIT $100K and MassChallenge. And we’re headed back to California next week as finalists in the International Business Model Competition.

Also, Congress ignored Trump’s proposal to cut NIH funding by $7.1B, which would have killed a generation of biomedical innovation. Instead, the budget calls for a $2B funding increase. So that’s a win for all of us!


This post is part of a series of short essays about student entrepreneurship, VC, and translating scientific research into applied technologies. If you enjoyed reading this post check out the others below and feel free to get in touch!

Update: Nivien closed after 2 years. Read our story in The Washington Post.

Written by

Biotech VC. Director or Observer on the boards of six RA Capital companies. Former CEO of Nivien Therapeutics. My writing does not represent RA Capital.

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