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S2 E3: Vikram Chaudhery and Paul Conley, Founding Partners at General Inception

Podcast Transcript

James Mackey  0:00  

Hey, welcome to Scale by Design. Today we're joined by Paul and Vikram of General Inception. Guys welcome to the show. How are you doing?


Paul Conley  0:07  

Doing great, James, great to see you! 


Vikram Chaudhery  0:08

Thanks for having us.


James Mackey  0:09  

Yeah, for sure. I'm pumped to be speaking with you guys. We talked about some really cool topics here. I'm really looking forward to learning more about you and General Inception, and what you guys are up to. So to kick us off, I think just doing some quick intros would be helpful to all of our listeners. Paul, could you kick us off and tell you that tell us a little bit about yourself and General Inception which you guys are building?


Paul Conley  0:34  

Yeah, I’d be happy to. I mean, it's my favorite thing to talk about what we're doing. So every opportunity like this is fun. We started general inception in February of 2020, to solve a problem that we have experienced for years, as I hate to say it, sort of traditional venture capitalists. And maybe it helps to explain how did I get into venture capital. I spent about 15 years in technology, research, and development roles coming out of way too many years in graduate school, I sort of developed a wanderlust in my 20s, and just studied everything that I could until they finally said - Okay, you got to go out there and start making your way in the world. But through all of that work in academia, working in physics, and bioengineering, I always worked at the intersection of things because that's where all the cool stuff happens. And I ended up getting a Ph.D. in applied physics and a master's in bioengineering at the University of California, San Diego. But the customer for all of that work was the US government. 


So I went and did a postdoc at Los Alamos National Labs and the weapons program there. And soon after completing work on research, I really kind of figured out that my joy comes from building tools, and that I'm kind of a tools builder at heart. And so then I spent about 10 years commercializing some tools that I had been developing in the government domain, and really identified as a serial entrepreneur, spent that period of time starting companies, getting them financed, building the management teams, figuring out the right first market problem to solve and so on. Then one day, one of the investors in my first startup, took me to lunch and convinced me to switch to the investing side of early-stage companies. 


I think that the proposition he made was - it's time for you to be the VC you wish you had, as you've been kind of doing the startup thing. And that just kind of hit me between the eyes. So I did, I took that pill and decided to start in venture capital in 2007. And actually, the firm that I started my career with is in your neck of the woods, Paladin Capital Group, headquartered in Washington, DC. When I started in venture capital, one of the things that occurred to me was that the whole time I worked in the national laboratory system, I never met a VC. And so I kind of started this practice of investing at the intersection of Life Sciences and all of the other technologies. It was really some of those very early formative experiences that I'll come back and talk about where we explain what we're doing and why we're doing it, General Inception. But what I'd love to do is get my co-founder and friend and colleague, Vikram, to say a few words about himself first.


James Mackey  3:33  

Yeah, let's do it. 


Vikram Chaudhery  3:34 

Thanks, Paul. So, James, I have a very similar background to Paul's, I started my career in academia, really, the University of Illinois, where I got all my degrees, focusing on electrical engineering, got enamored by biology, and started spending more time in research on the molecular side of bioengineering, so to speak. So really building genomics and proteomics profiling tools. And that really led me down the path of innovation and entrepreneurship and really started to understand how complicated it is to build businesses in life sciences and how much you need to know and the diversity of different things that you need to understand from not just engineering and product concepts, but commercial concepts, really thinking about regulatory understanding the universe of the landscape of different companies that you need to have as your customers, that you need to partner with, that are your competitors across the board. 


That really led me to understand I needed to have a business education and I chose to pursue a learn-by-doing education, working at McKinsey and Company. I joined McKinsey in Chicago and was there for just under a year but spend the bulk of my time at McKinsey out here in Silicon Valley, which is where I live now. And really the move to, to the valley and to the West Coast was really prompted by the ability to work with not just the traditional Fortune 500, 100 clients that McKinsey has, where you really get to learn a lot of the nuances of Life Sciences, businesses, and how revenue generating businesses are successful. But looking at the landscape of earlier stage companies, the right things that are pre IPO. It's later stage for what we do these days. But back then it was still pretty early stage. And McKenzie had a deliberate program of working with those companies. In fact, I had a chance to work with a few of those companies that were in the pre-IPO phase as well, working on two programs, particularly going through the IPO process. 


So I spent my time primarily in strategy, corporate finance, and M&A, but also spent some time in the commercialization of technologies that did that product launches in diagnostics, and medical devices and worked on some biopharma commercialization as well. But most of my time was really on the strategy side, and on the mergers and acquisitions side. And, as I mentioned, doing some work on IPOs. All of that led me to really understand that innovation doesn't quite take from the startup world, into the large company. And it's not that large companies are not innovative, it's that they're innovative in a very different way. They're not as disruptive that the few examples of where they are, but there's not they're not as disruptive. And so as I started to focus on the industry side of things on precision medicine, practice, and really starting to think about how do we build up innovation programs in precision medicine, and really work with companies that are at this cutting edge of science, really convergence of bio and tech, which is really where a lot of the changes are happening, and how pipelines of pharmaceutical drugs and diagnostics and everything else is going to change. 


It led me to a company called Lam Research where I was recruited as the head of Life Sciences and really looking to leverage a company that was fundamentally innovative, there was a company that partnered with early-stage technologies and IP coming out of the universities had a massive infrastructure of 600 plus PhDs, leading R&D organizations with every single expert in their field there. And we're really innovating at the cutting edge of technologies and news, real science fiction stuff for somebody coming out of the bio world, frankly, as to how industrialized innovation actually works. And that really starts to spark the imagination. As we started to build the programs within Lam of doing equity investments, partnership agreements, and our own product development, we really started to understand how much leverage you can have if you have really good core engineering, and material science capabilities, and how important those are in terms of driving true disruption into the life sciences space. 


But it was always going to be too far from the core for the company. And as I left, the thing I left with, and the greatest gift that you can leave with is a true understanding of the fact that innovation at scale is possible. Now, I didn't quite know how I would go about implementing it but I knew that that was the thing I wanted to do. I didn't quite have all of the pieces of the idea. But as is always the case, sometimes in life, you come and you meet the right person who has the other side of the paper, and you put the two pieces of paper together and you're like - Oh, this looks like a map. And at the end of this quest is a treasure that's going to transform things. And that's really what I felt when I met Paul, our half-hour conversation turned into almost two hours and we were finishing each other's sentences and really knew at that moment that we had the beginnings of something there. Something he had been thinking about for some time, and I've been thinking about independently. And despite the fact that we had different life experiences that brought us to that point. We knew that we knew where we wanted to go and there was a very clear picture in our mind and two and a half years in it still seems to be that we see the world the same way. 


James Mackey  9:41  

That's really cool. How did you guys initially meet, who made the intro or how did that happen?


Paul Conley  9:47  

There were a couple of key people. Right, Vikram? I think Serge Saxonov, CEO of 10x Genomics.


Vikram Chaudhery  9:55  

Yes, he was the one who planted the thought in my head and then I believe Jenny Rooke, who is the Managing Director of Genoa Ventures


Paul Conley 10:06  

And Keith Crandell from Arch. 


Vikram Chaudhery  10:09  

Yeah. I collaborated with Arch when I was back at Lamb so I knew some of the folks at Arch. They had previously introduced Paul and myself. So we knew each other and we'd met before that point in time but Jenny really, I think was the final push to say - you guys need to go have a conversation about this. And you know, once you get enough people telling you - you guys need to talk.


Paul Conley  10:39  

Yeah, we were like in a gravity well, we tried not to meet haha. 


James Mackey  10:43  

Just kept coming up. Yeah, that's really cool, I liked that founding story. What's really cool for both of you, is it seems like this is a very passionate led, in terms of inception really bringing you guys together in terms of having a passion for very similar things. And that's, I love that. And just to be clear for everybody tuning in, the investments that you make, the businesses and the founders that you're working with, are within life sciences, and biotech. Could you give us any more clarity on the industries that you're playing and focused on? 


Unknown Speaker  11:15  

It's a great question. And it's in the name, General Inception, we've really thought long and hard about the name, and we love it because it says very fundamentally, what we do, we're getting involved at inception. The general piece, though, is also deliberate in the sense that we're building something that we truly believe is going to outlive us. And when you think about some of the biggest brands that people are aware of, that kind of General Electric, General Mills, General Motors, there's a sort of a theme there of companies that outlive their founders. But also, in terms of subject matter area. We have very diverse backgrounds, and our team, which we'd love to talk more about today has very diverse backgrounds across the science and engineering disciplines. 


And remember, in my bio, I said, I think the cool stuff has always happened at the intersection. So we're very deliberately general. We feel like we kind of perfected this model of working with early-stage startups in the areas that have something to do with healthcare, life, science, and biology. But we believe firmly that this blueprint, this approach, this philosophy translates across all of the other, what the kids today will call  deep tech, hard tech types of companies. So today, functionally very focused on life science-related things. But that's not a permanent focus at all.


James Mackey  12:48  

Yeah, got it. That makes a lot of sense. And I know one of the things that we wanted to kind of touch on is your investment thesis, how you think about building companies from the ground up, everything from how you're evaluating business ideas to entrepreneurs, right? Can you tell us a little bit about how you think about investing and working with entrepreneurs?


Paul Conley 13:13  

Yeah, Vikram, I take that, and then I'll catch a breath and let you correct everything I get wrong. Because that's how it works. So yeah, let's take a step back. You've used the word investing, we do buy stock when we partner with founders, and we're always explaining that that's the least valuable thing that we do. Because the inception part is really what it's all about. And so we are typically co-founding companies with scientific founders, who are maybe at a point in their career where they don't know all of the right people, or they don't even maybe even understand the vocabulary sometimes, around how to explain what they're doing to customers, to potential executives, and to investors, and so on. 


It almost always requires a little bit of money to get someplace with so we do buy stock but for the most part, we're there to be a perfect business co-founder to scientific or technical founders. And then on occasion, if there's a company that's already formed, but isn't really ready for professional investors, will partner with those companies too, and often we will make some form of equity investment, but usually, we're being embraced as people that do the work of figuring out how to define the right product, figuring out how to enter the market, how to price that product, what the competitive landscape looks like and so on and so forth.


James Mackey  14:57  

So it sounds like you're doing a pretty heavy lift. So it's heavy talking about platform services, looks like you're actually rolling up your sleeves and helping build these companies. You mentioned you built a big team around you pretty quickly over the past couple of years to help support and help hopefully drive these companies forward. How much of the work are you guys doing? How much is your team doing? And to what extent are they like working in the business? Curious to learn more about that.


Paul Conley  15:28  

Yeah, it's good for Vikram to jump in. 


Vikram Chaudhery  15:29  

I think fundamentally, the goal for us at all times is to bring the best possible person for that scientific founder, for that idea in the room at the right time. And to be able to create a bit of an effect of allowing for the bonding effect to take place where the scientific founder, and in the right executive who sees the picture and the vision, clearly, and the one plus one equals four starts to happen in there. And that can sometimes be us. But I think, by and large, it has to be a broader set of people, because we don't know everything about everything and we'll be the first people to admit that. This is where I think it's really important to have a big network, a big team, and a big bench of people. 


Some of those people are people that are directly on our team and some of those people are people that we have to go find, that are one to two degrees of separation away from us, in terms of creating that right person in the right conference room, to help build and nurture the idea. Sometimes that's a technical person because there's a very important technical problem around translating the science to a product that needs to happen. And sometimes it's a market-focused person who's really - there's work that's been done, it's a prototype, it can generate data, but figuring out what the first market application is can be the difference between success and failure for it because there just isn't enough patience to see the first, second or third application fail before the fourth one finally succeeds down the line. 


And so it's really, really important to find somebody that understands the market clearly and can help figure out what the right product configuration needs to be to test the marketplace with it. And sometimes it's a combination of those. So the people that we bring on, are typically CEOs, ClOs, Heads of marketing from previous companies that have been there. They've played that role before. So they've gone through the hopper of really understanding what it takes to build businesses and build companies, sometimes from larger companies translating over, and sometimes they're formed from startups, but all of them have this entrepreneurial spirit of understanding exactly what it takes and to work towards a goal with a passion associated with it. Those are the people that we're trying to bring more and more into our network, whether it's as direct employees, or it's as folks that are going to be directly working on individual opportunities. And sometimes they end up becoming full-time executives in those companies as they go on to raise venture financing rounds, after the initial bit of evidence is gathered, and the work is done. And sometimes they help recruit. The folks become full-time executives down the line. So there's a modicum of flexibility in the model that exists, which is really important to us and it's been really important to a lot of the executives that we've interacted with.


James Mackey  18:59  

Got it. And so a lot of the people on your team that I'm looking at here on LinkedIn, or they are most of the people working with you LPs, or they're actually full-time employees that are working within the business. What's that structure look like?


Vikram Chaudhery  19:13  

Yeah, I think most of the people that are on the website spend the majority of their time with General Inception. By majority, I mean anywhere from three to five days a week. They're full-time executive executives or employees or they're spending upwards of 60% of the time on all things general consumption, related to that. It's important for us to create a little bit of that flexible model because the best people always have many things going on. And you know, if you start to create an overly constrained environment around exclusivity, it does seem to create some, having those degrees of freedom are important to everybody. The other part of this is I think as we grow up as an organization, we are two and a half years old, we're still to some degree, we have a lot of things figured out but we're still figuring out new things. But as we grow up as an organization, I think we expect more and more people to be waking up every day and only working on things associated with General Inception, even if they aren't necessarily a W2 with us. 


Paul Conley  20:22  

They are employees or contractors to General Inception and General Inception is a corporation, not a fund. And so they're not LPs, they’re workers, like us.


James Mackey  20:36  

Got it. Okay. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I appreciate the clarification. I have a few more questions for you. I'm curious about the companies that you're involved with right now. Which one of the companies you're working with are you spending the most time with right now? What's an exciting opportunity or challenge that you're focused on solving right now?


Paul Conley   20:54  

That's a good question. I think it's a question that is sort of consistent with the lifecycle of the projects we're getting involved in, often forming the companies with the scientific founders, where we have a kind of a shared vision of what's the opportunity, and then you go through these cycles of time intensiveness. But the objective is to really get them ready for institutional venture capital. And that means being rigorous about what we think we know. And how do we know that and be able to really make the strongest case that this thing is worthy of venture capital investment? 


So there's a lot of activity at the beginning of the process, and then a lot of activity when we're kind of preparing to help them go raise financing. So I'll speak to one company called Partillion, that, at a moment in time, we have nurtured this company that was spun out of UCLA, Dino De Carlos Academic Lab at UCLA. They've invented a very unique technique for measuring millions of cells in parallel, and what those cells are producing, or there's what they're excreting from their cell surface. And this is colloquially referred to as the secretome. If you've heard of the genome, there's a sort of a secretome. And, so we really worked closely nurturing the company's sort of path to figuring out what it wanted to be when it grows up. And fortunately, being able to get some customer traction even before going to raise venture capital, money, and the best kind of validation that the market cares. 


And so over literally the last few weeks, that all culminated in activity, where we secured a term sheet from a major life science investor in the space and are now just in the process of closing that financing. So that's one where we were involved at inception, it's a classic academic spin-out where the inventor just got a Ph.D. a year and a half ago, so really didn't have a career's worth of relationships yet. And the objective is, of course, that if we treat that founder right, we kind of are successful in helping them get on the road and, running fast towards success, that we're going to be able to do that again. And as a case in point, we just started looking at a new thing out of Dino de Carlo's lab. So that's the goal is the flywheel where we start to kind of have these very close relationships with the most inventive people on planet Earth who say - well, let's just go to General Inception again and again and do it. So for me, that's what I spent a lot of time with.


Vikram Chaudhery  23:54  

Do you want to maybe give 10 seconds or 15 seconds on some of the stuff that we did and do with Joe and Dino, Partillion?


James Mackey  24:05  

Yeah, and just to follow up on that. I'd be really curious to hear the series of events, like this specific case, was the technology exactly where it needed to be? Or did you come in and say - Hey, to go to market, we need to pivot or focus on this aspect. I'm curious to kind of hear about that process. I know it varies from company to company.


Paul Conley  24:28  

As a case study right? 


James Mackey  24:29


Paul Conley 24:30

But as one case study, so Joe de Rutte is the now doctor among us. We met him before he defended his Ph.D. and he sort of got his Ph.D. granted while we were gearing up to work with him. He was in Dino de Carlos's academic lab, he had papers published so there was some academic data. But those data and the particular experiments were not quite indicative of a product like it didn't solve a problem yet, it was proof that the core technology had some promise. And so early in the relationship, we had to work with them to talk to potential customers. 


Academic customers are likely to be their first type of customer and start to identify and rank order, what are the kinds of problems that map to this technology. And then we help them engage with big commercial partners, like TEDx genomics, where I was on the board of Becton Dickinson, Biorad, and Sony. And these are all companies that sort of make the existing laboratory equipment that Partillion would essentially ride right on. So there's an existing install base of all this equipment, and Partillion comes to market with stuff that makes those instruments better. So we really help them engage with those potential partners, learn what proof meant to them, and then was like what showcase data sets would convincingly say, this performs as advertised and it's compelling enough that we want to figure out how to help you sell it in the marketplace. 


We did a lot of what we call in the industry, Voice of Customer work, where you think you know why customers care, but you really want to go in a completely unbiased, independent way. Talk to them. And so General Inception helps do some of that work in the field. And then you start to develop this picture of the products, form, fit, function, and price. And now you're out of the academic domain and squarely in Big C, commercial domain. I think that getting this financing done by again, a very reputable VC firm, required that crossing of the chasm from congratulations, you're now a PhD, and you have a published peer-reviewed paper to - oh, you actually have a product definition, you're actually generating a little bit of revenue. And you have all these detailed transcripts from living breathing customers as to why they care. Cool, like, how about we invest? So that's how that works.


James Mackey  27:23  

I mean, that makes perfect sense. So I'm really starting to understand the value proposition of what your team brings, brings to the table. And I'm sure too, it's not only access, I mean, I'm sure access to VCs goes through the roof in terms of giving more funding options at better terms. I mean, that's a huge value add, but I mean, simply put, it gives companies a much higher chance of actually succeeding, and getting to the point where they can really get investment to bring the company to the next next level. Because otherwise, I'd say a lot of founders, particularly from a highly technical background, or PhD background, as you mentioned, there might be significant gaps and figuring out how to even put together an initial product offering, let alone a go-to-market strategy. 


So I think given how technical a lot of these companies are, they probably need a lot more help than potentially another Rev ops tool, or if there's something where there are people that typically don't come from a scientific background, they're not coming from a Ph.D. background, they're coming from a corporate startup background, right? They may not have the proprietary value prop with technology, but they understand that. So your founders, it sounds like they’re incredibly technical coming from a scientific background, and you can accelerate their growth curve and give them a lot more opportunity and the likelihood of success by making the introductions telling them how to how to bring a product out of the, you know, the what they're developing, I mean, it makes a lot of sense. That's really cool. I like it a lot.


Vikram Chaudhery  29:00  

Yeah, it's a lot James about helping them understand what the right signal is that they need to solve, or what's the right evidence that they need to generate? That is going to be a signal that venture capitalists will be able to interpret and say - Ah, I know what this is, and I know where this is headed. And therefore, most importantly, I can understand what risks I need to underwrite for the next round, and what are the next bullets of evidence we need to go generate, in order for this to continue to grow as a company. Because that's what this is, right? 


It's literally if you think about companies and products, and we do, every product concept starts off with a certain amount of risk. And you go through the process by spending money and using time and resources and gathering evidence in degrading the risk over time. And this is sort of the first most important step in degrading the right risks at the right time so that when a VC comes in, they say - okay, the things that we're most worried about, are either solved for or at least understood enough, that we can now understand what the next step needs to be for a classic seed stage financing.


James Mackey  30:20  

Right. And I'm assuming too, when the VCs know that you are one of the founding partners, that gives them a lot more confidence in the company as well because they know there are business-minded people that understand how to bring products to market involved alongside the founder, right?


Paul Conley  30:39  

I think that's right, James. And some of that is going to be reputational, which always makes us a little blush because we like to just do the work. But in the venture capital industry, everybody's getting deals from everywhere, but you do tend to kind of index on the deals that come from somebody because you've kind of calibrated their judgment. We don't really focus so much on like, trying to market our judgment, but more that if it's a General Inception company, any investor in our network knows that the work has been done, that it isn't just a bunch of hyperbolic claims on some PowerPoint slides. But that we've done the work, we've done the field, or we kind of know if the market will buy this, what they'll pay for it. 


And we kind of know what the roadmap should look like in that. That investor, if they're looking at a General Inception opportunity isn't going to have to spend the first six months after they invest figuring out what it is they have, right? So we're kind of going further. I always use this McDonald's metaphor, which is horrible. It makes Vikram cringe. But if you go to McDonald's anywhere, certainly in the US, you know the experience you're gonna get right, you know because there everyone has a certain theme and consistency to it. And so what we're going for is that kind of repeatability and established quality bar that it's GI inside, maybe we'll invest maybe we won't invest, but we know that what's on the slides, we can kind of trust. 


James Mackey  32:16

I love it! 


Vikram Chaudhery  32:17  

I thought we’d use the Intel analogy than a McDonald's. 


Paul Conley  32:18

Okay, yeah. 


Vikram Chaudhery  32:19

We're gonna try and be a little bit more of a premier organization here. I think the other important thing here, James, to calibrate to is that this isn't just about helping people think about what their idea is and then making a few intros. It really is bringing the right cycle of people at the right time. So early on, we brought an executive on board who helped really think about, how would you go do Voice of customer based on this. And how do you need to think about the product configurations? And frankly, this was one where Paul scrubbed in quite a bit, as well, because he sort of knew this space inherently well, from his previous investments. 


So really helping understand how you think about the journey of your product concepts and what the iterations of those products need to be. But as they matured further down the line, we brought in different people to help them understand exactly how they need to conduct the Voice of customer and what signal they need to draw out, and helping construct those things directly. So it was really rolling your sleeves up and doing this, but every opportunity is a little bit different, as you cited at the start of this. And so there are some opportunities that require you know, the right people but providing guidance to helping individuals, do the work and learning and growing. Then in some cases, we literally have to scrub in and just be the people that do all that work. There is no cavalry coming. It is us is doing all the work in those cases. 


James Mackey  34:02  

Right, it's a lot of fun, because it sounds like you have slightly different points of impact based on the company, which keeps it kind of fresh and interesting, right? It keeps it intellectually stimulating, I'm sure. 


Paul Conley  34:16  

That's very insightful. I think what we are doing is taking something that is artisanal in a lot of ways meaning every one of these projects is a little different. But then with Vikram's strength, providing just the right level of normalization and standardization so that we can scale up this artisanal thing. Sorry, Vikram, I think I cut you off.


Vikram Chaudhery  34:38  

No, I was gonna say that exact word that Paul often says is that company creation, fundamentally, is artisanal. It's artisanal for an entrepreneur. And you can ask an entrepreneur, there is no such thing as a rinse and repeat. There are elements of rinse and repeat that are there. Which is this you probably want to partner with the same IP firms and the same HR firms and the same finance people to come across the board. But even their jobs are artisanal when it comes to company creation. And so, you can bring together the same people, but the work that they're going to be doing is going to be unique based on the opportunity that you're looking at in there.


James Mackey  35:19  

I mean, some of those relationships you carry over are going to be people that are adaptable, and are not going to take that copy-paste approach, that makes a lot of sense. Look, we got about 5-10 minutes left, I don't want to come up right to the end of time, because we're going to be rushed signing off. But I was hoping we could kind of take a step back and get to something a little bit topical. If it's cool with you, I would love to get your thoughts on what the heck is happening in this market, with the economy, and what we're seeing with interest rates and inflation. 


I would love to kind of get your take on the road ahead. How brutal it’s going to be, how long is it's gonna last? None of us have all the answers. But I'd love to get your take on what's happening. And then to follow that up on where's the opportunity now, not when we're coming out of this, but as entrepreneurs as investors, where do you find in the middle of this storm, where do you see the opportunity? So it's kind of a two-part question there. 


Paul Conley  36:19  

Yeah at least two parts, there's a lot to unpack there. 


James Mackey  36:21  

I know, we could probably talk about that for an hour or so. 


Vikram Chaudhery  36:22

That's the next podcast. 


James Mackey  36:23

Yeah. Part two!


Paul Conley  36:29  

I'll jump into that and I'll try to leave some space for you, Vikram. So look, I think I'm old. I've been through a few of these economic cycles. So I think fundamentally, what's happening at the macro level was due. It's, it's healthy, it's painful, but it's healthy. And I'm kind of glad that it's happening because it means that we're sort of kicking back into a new, healthy norm in terms of how people think about assets generally. That's the macro. I would say that all of the data over many economic cycles, like the one that we're sort of starting a new here suggests that the absolute best time, the best years in which to start a new company, are these years. These years when things have imploded, and there's a sort of a rebirth that needs to happen around how all of the asset classes think about asset allocation. 


And so, while we didn't plan it this way, I promise you, we couldn't be more bullish about the opportunity for formation stage and seed stage investing in deep tech ventures, all the data is on our side to suggest we're going to do great over the next 10 years. And our investors are going to do great. More importantly, our scientific founders are going to do great. I would also say that when you look at the century we're living in, and kind of compared to the last century in terms of big macro things that drove the economy and drove wealth creation and frankly, drove transformations in our way of life. Everything that's happening in biology and biology-related things right now in this century, lines up perfectly with the last century around things like computing, and I would argue physics. So many more people are saying this is the century of biology in the same way that the last century was for IT and physics and connectivity. 


So again, that makes us very, very bullish that we were focused on macro, not where we are with a year or two of downturn in public company valuations and things like that. So we feel like we're in the right macro space, working in biology at the right time when the economy is starting over on a new cycle, to be doing exactly what we're doing right now. I don't know, Vikram, maybe you have some comments more on the micro? 


Vikram Chaudhery  39:00  

Yeah, I think, Paul, to your point around where we find ourselves without having planned for it is, really early, with a viewpoint of really understanding that building things that have impact that solve problems, somehow magically always have a market. Doesn't matter what the economy looks like. I think we've, I know that sounds like a generic statement but fundamentally, every one of our companies is answering a really important question or solving a really important problem that exists in the space and it happens to be using the power of biology or answering questions about biology that Mother Nature has sort of perfected and posed for us and just dangled out there for us to go find the answer to. 


If you approach it with an understanding that each of those is, an endeavor into curiosity that ultimately at the end of it leads to a business that helps you not only understand the question but understand what the consequences of those questions are. And how it solves a really important problem in the marketplace, is really businesses that are going to be fundamentally there to create value, generate revenue, and therefore always be something that there's going to be room for in the marketplace as they go forward. That's kind of the fundamental thesis of every company we create, is that underpinning piece of it, is it answering an important question? Or is it solving an important problem that is likely to create that type of impact? And that would be true for us? If we were back in the bull years in early 2021, or we are today, right? It doesn't matter, we would have probably been doing the same exact thing.


Paul Conley  41:05  

Fundamentally, what we're doing is completely resilient to what's happening in the economy, public stock prices or otherwise, valuations, everything about what we do is pretty resilient to all of that.


James Mackey  41:17  

Yeah. I've heard just my conversations with VCs that life sciences, biotech, healthcare, and climate tech, even space tech, are all spaces that seem to be getting a lot of focus right now in this market. Does that sound right? Would you tweak anything there, add any industries? 


Paul Conley  41:40  

I would actually, James, glad you asked. Because you mentioned climate tech, and I was okay. Glad you said that because yeah, healthcare and biology naturally go together. Nobody questions that. When I refer to this being the century of biology, it's that biology is now an engineering discipline. We build things with biology, and we solve non-biology problems with biology, including, how are we going to feed the planet? How are we going to manufacture things that today are manufactured with inherently dirty chemical processes? So the parts of the economy that we're impacting with what we're doing here, way greater than healthcare, it's agriculture, it's the entire specialty chemicals industry that drives our food, or flavors or fragrances, sort of all of these things. A lot of those parts of the economy are part of what has been impacting climate change. 450 years after the Industrial Revolution, biology is at least partially the answer to unwinding a lot of the damage that we have done with the Industrial Revolution. 


James Mackey  42:50  

And this is a perfect kind of full circle end, talking about the convergence of different industries is really where the fun stuff happens, or the intersection or whatever you want to call it. So yeah, what a perfect way to kind of sum things up here. We are coming up on time. Vikram, Paul, this has been a blast. I had a lot of fun, this is great. Thank you, guys!


Vikram Chaudhery  43:15  

Yes, thanks. Thanks for the questions, and really appreciate it. Really appreciate the time.


James Mackey  43:19  

Yeah, yeah, for sure. Hey, anytime y'all want to come back on, just let me know. We'll make it happen.


Paul Conley  43:26  

Well, next time I'll sit next to you, since you're keeping watch over my hometown of Reston, Virginia.


James Mackey  43:31  

Yeah, so for everyone tuning in. So it turns out, Paul and I, lived less than like a quarter mile away from each other. Which I feel like if we were both in the DC community the peninsula, that probably wouldn't be that unusual. But the fact that we were like in the capital of government contracting in the middle of Reston, and we grew up right next to each other. I think that that's pretty incredible. Small world.


Paul Conley  43:58  

And getting smaller.


James Mackey  44:00  

Yeah, awesome. Well, hey, thanks, guys and for everybody tuning in - Thank you for joining us, and we'll see you next time!


Paul Conley  44:06  

Take care of so much, James. 


Vikram Chaudhery  44:06

Thank you!

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