Startup Pains April: Alzeca Biosciences and the Fight Against Alzheimer's


On Thursday, April 11, Jason Eriksen, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacology and chair and co-founder of Alzeca Biosciences, gave a riveting presentation to a room of professionals, grad students, and entrepreneurs at the monthly Startup Pains event at Technology Bridge.

Eriksen spoke in great detail about his tremendous work in Alzheimer’s research and the business side of his startup, Alzeca Bio. He recounted his startup experience and described the different phases he navigated, even lamenting his time trapped in the valley of death.

“We were certainly trapped in what you call the valley of death. The lowest point of the lowest point of the startup financing cycle. This is where most startups die because they can never escape,” warned Eriksen.

The valley of death is a financial abyss in which startups find it increasingly difficult to raise funding. While most companies disintegrate here, Eriksen and his team were able to escape and grow Alzeca Bio into the groundbreaking, game-changing company it is today.

“Alzeca Bio develops advanced imaging technology that facilitates the early detection of Alzheimer’s,” said Eriksen. “Detecting the disease early is critical. It would make treating the disease much easier and allow us to provide families with prognostic information, which is currently not available,” he continued.

Eriksen went on to speak about venture capital, and why startups are predominantly located in certain cities like San Francisco or New York. “Geography looks like venture capital destiny. Meaning startups go where the money is. And the money is in Silicon Valley, New York, San Jose, Boston and the rest of these handful of cities,” he explained.

“Like Willie Sutton said, ‘I rob banks because that’s where the money is.’”

In summary, Eriksen’s engaging discussion was about his rocky experience getting his startup off the ground and how he kept it going. He stressed the importance of remaining vigilant while in the valley of death, and preparing for it by making sure you build a network of contacts beforehand. Such a network can provide entrepreneurs with much needed advice or even financial assistance while you struggle to climb out of the abyss.  

“Look for smart money. Intelligent investors and a strategic team will amplify your efforts and can make the difference between success and failure during a capital raise. Get out there and build your network!” Eriksen proclaimed as he ended his presentation.