Why we Invested: Mytos
One of TBD’s recent investments was in Mytos. Here’s some background on why this opportunity appealed to TBD members.
Every industry has a “dirty little secret” — not necessarily something nefarious, just an aspect that is well understood by insiders and unsuspected by outsiders (“What do you mean they …….?”). As experienced operators we know that all too well.
One of the steps that slows down drug design today is the need to manufacture specific mammalian cells (either to test a putative drug or, in the case of cell therapy, to be the drug). There’s easy resonance when you speak about this to a scientist in pharma or biotech — pretty quickly they begin nodding “yup — been there, know that pain”. The processes used are slow, tedious, subject to many subjective assessments and these processes occur repeatedly — in other words, ripe for automation. Furthermore the processes are inherently difficult to scale, which exacerbates the uncertainty in timelines.
Along came Ali Afshar and the team at Mytos. Ali is a scientist himself (PhD from Imperial College London) and he knows how to automate processes. He and his team have invented ways to automate each step of the process, by observing scientists doing this work and by creating technology that Mytos believes will be easily understood and appreciated by lab technicians and by scientists (because they’re familiar, easy to configure and automatically monitored).
Remember those ads of IT staff lounging in a hammock beachside? Mytos’ vision is not to create a lounging class among lab techs, microbiologists and chemists but to give them back their nights and weekends and to introduce more predictability (and speed and scalability) into what is now a hard-to-predict and costly and resource draining (but necessary) part of the cycle.
The Mytos team has impressed a number of VPs of innovation or automation at Biotech firms with their vision and their prototypes. Thereby Mytos has amassed several million dollars of backlog in pre-approved purchase orders — it needed funding to build production level machines in order to service some of these initial customers and to continue work on pipeline development ahead of a Series A raise. TBD Angels was happy to be engaged in this funding round and looks forward to continued traction and innovation from Mytos.
Robert Nagle is a member of TBD Angels and led this deal