Editor’s note: AtlantaBeat is a regular feature on Mondays>Startup Alimera Sciences did more than emerge from stealth mode.
It smashed into public view earlier this month by closing on a $26.75 million A round of financing in the days when such rounds are hard to come by, let alone in such size. It’s also a record for a Georgia life science firm.
“This was a good culmination of a lot of phone calls and plane rides,” co-founder and CEO Dan Myers told Local Tech Wire. But Myers and his three co-founders plus a startup team focused on ophthalmic products didn’t take much time to savor the moment.
“The worse thing is, we got what we asked for,” Myers said with a laugh. “Now, we have to really show we have what we need to get this done.
“We said, OK, enjoy the rest of the day now,” he added when Intersouth Partners, which led the round, and the three other venture partners were signed, sealed and delivered. “Then we’ve got to get ourselves back out there.”
Myers, who grew up in Atlanta, married his high school sweetheart, and graduated from Georgia Tech, is confident Alimera is ready to deliver a variety of eye products for prescription and over-the-counter use. The company, which raised $1.7 million in friends and family cash to launch in 2003, will use the VC funds to license products manufactured by others rather than discover new ones.
“First of all, we’re going to park our egos,” Myers said. “We are not out to be No. 1 in ophthalmology. “We can’t develop blockbusters.
“What we will try to do is find products that have patients and help doctors better service their patients with those products. That may not take you to No. 1 market position, and it’s hard for people not to want to be No. 1 in market position, but our focus is niche markets.”
One of the major reasons why Intersouth Partner Garheng Kong, who earned an MD, advocated Alimera as an investment is the strength of Myers and his management team. All have worked together for several years, and understand quite thoroughly the ophthalmics industry from previous experience at Novartis and other firms.
“If we don’t know by now what the doctor needs in the office, then there’s something wrong with us.” Myers said. He stressed that the firm can’t make many mistakes. “The first three to five years of project selection will be critical. That is another thing we have to keep in mind — we can’t be wrong very often.”
Myers’ co-founders include Daniel White as CFO, Mark Testerman as head of sales, and Dave Holland, head of marketing.
“”I hired Dave and Mark back in 1992,” Myers recalled. “I have watched these guys grow into professionals.” Daniel joined CIBA Vision two years ago and came to know Myers and the others. The four stayed with Novartis when it acquired CIBA then decided to go into business for themselves when Novartis announced plans to move the ophthalmic group to New Jersey.
“The division was not big enough for Novartis to play with,” Myers said. To this day, he remains thankful to the firm for helping Alimera get started.
“They gave us severances and didn’t make us sign non-competes,” he explained. “We owe them quite a bit of thanks.”
As for the name of the firm, Evans laughed when he recalled how that came about.
“The four of us were sitting in a basement. It was the day of truth. We had to decide what we were going to do and where we were going,” Myers recalled. “Myers Pharmaceuticals didn’t have much of a ring to it.
“At the time, the corporate scandals — Enron and Martha Stewart — were going on.”
Some research produced a possible combination of two ancient Greek works with the meaning “Day of Truth”.
“”If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember what you said last time,” Evans said. “Truth seems to be the best way to go.”
McColl helps build a house
Hugh McColl former CEO at Bank of America, was in Atlanta recently to assist in the construction of a Habitat for Humanity home in Atlanta’s historic Roswell District. The home will be dedicated on Sept. 11. It is being built in memory of Angie Towle, a Bank of America associate who was killed in a robbery attempt last year.
BrightHouse, which bills itself as “the world’s first Ideation consultancy”, is opening an office in Scandinavia.
“BrightHouse is the first company in the world to put a business model around Ideation, a process that helps companies rediscover and articulate their core reason for being which ultimately transforms their businesses,” said Peter Brockdorff, head of the board for BrightHouse Scandinavia. “Our shared understanding and vision for Ideation, and our respect for BrightHouse’s work and results sparked the idea for an office in Denmark. We are excited to bring the power of Ideation to businesses in Europe.”
Brockdorff is former president of StarCom Denmark. Also joining him are Per Monberg, a former executive at Cendant, and Daniel Soren, a former account director at Leo Burnett Denmark.
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