The most recent “The Pulse” breakfast series at Health Wildcatters headquarters last week featured Bill Burns, founder of Encore Vision, a medical supply and equipment company, and Les Kreis, managing partner at BIOS Partners, a healthcare-focused private equity firm.
With Health Wildcatters president Hubert Zajicek serving as the moderator, the two spoke about entrepreneurship, with Kreis defining an entrepreneur as “a person jumping off a cliff and building an airplane on the way down.” They also discussed topics ranging from Encore’s start—with Burns building a product out of his garage—to sealing a $465 million exit. I spoke to Kreis later to further discuss his experience and role in the deal.
What relationship did your company have with Encore Vision?
“Bios Partners asked for and received a board seat on the initial investment, so I was elected to the board of directors in December 2013. Our investment model works best when management wants to work with us. [Burns] was the only employee of Encore Vision and seemed to welcome input from our firm. Bios Partners was very involved helping [Burns] write the investigational new drug application, correct and simplify the capitalization table, restructure existing license agreements and the corporate structure, and assist in financial operations including budgeting.”
What role did your company have in the exit?
“As a board member, I was on a subcommittee that worked directly with both the investment bank and law firm in negotiating a deal for the company. Also, to help facilitate ongoing efforts with potential buyers, Bios Partners provided its own biostatistician as well as another 30-year industry veteran to the due diligence team during the M&A process.”
In your opinion, what was the most difficult part navigating this task?
“One of the most difficult parts of navigating this task was figuring out how to evaluate the legal implications of the deal. Fortunately we had an excellent firm, Latham and Watkins, who helped us manage our way through.”
How did you feel after making the deal with Novartis for $465 million?
“Naturally, I’m very happy about it, but I’m even more excited about all the new opportunities that seem to be coming from it. Our firm is relatively new, so this success is helping establish more credibility in the market with other potential investments, new investors, and venture capitalist participants in the sector.”
What was the biggest lesson you learned from that experience?
“We learned that active engagement and management with a startup company can be very important for the success of all stakeholders. We were able to use our firm’s industry expertise and professional network to supplement the company’s needs and add value in various ways that are very hard to quantify.”