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Investing in Hard Times

This article was originally published in Start Up

Executive Summary

VCs worried about depressed financial markets and demanding Big Pharma customers are being tough on almost all start-ups seeking funding-but no tougher than on their existing portfolio companies. For some, hard times are creating opportunities. The circumstances of companies that raised money in the past few years are impacting newer firms now. Even organizations that met their milestones have seen valuations plummet, and are struggling to get financing. The down market is making it more desirable and easier for VCs to invest in late-stage start-ups. In-licensing has been popular, but investors are increasingly seeking value-priced components to fill out existing firms or launch new ones. Investors haven't stopped doing early-stage deals, but they're looking for firms with advantages that can reduce risk or cost, or speed a company to market. Drugmakers that used to sign big-money deals are now demanding that start-ups prove their technologies' merits through short-term, inexpensive pilot programs. Some firms aren't so pressed by hard times. VCs are promising stellar founders lots of support and time to take big risks they bet will pay off handsomely.

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