Headed to JPM? Here Are Some Tips to Make the Most of It

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Pictured: Golden Gate Bridge/iStock, bloodua

Original story published Dec. 13:

December usually signals the start of the holiday season and all the joys associated with gift-giving and family gatherings. But for those in the biotech world, it also means there is only a month until the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco.

While many around the biotech world are starting to get their calendars together and prepare for meetings, BioSpace spoke to multiple people for their advice on companies and people attending JPM.

Plan Ahead

Decide on your goals and objectives are beforehand. Are you there to raise money, in-license assets or just hear talks and meet people? Having your objectives ironed out early will make your experience much smoother, Jakob Dupont, an executive partner at Sofinnova Investments, told BioSpace.

Additionally, companies should make meeting arrangements now as people’s schedules can get very full, said Shaun Bagai, CEO of RenovoRx. Wyatt McDonnell, CEO of Infinimmune, added that if you are banking on meeting somebody in particular, connect with that person ahead of time to be sure they are attending.

Prepare for small talk

Bresge said the conference has no environment that creates deep conversations, but it is an excellent environment to get face time with numerous players in the industry. “It’s a really good opportunity to meet anybody and everybody that you want to and need to meet across the industry whether that’s investors, bankers, pharma companies, vendors,” Bresge said.

Play the field

Neil McFarlane, CEO of Zevra Therapeutics, suggested attending as many company presentations as possible.

“This can be extremely helpful to new attendees looking to gain exposure to best practices to introduce their companies,” he told BioSpace. “Additionally, I would advise attendees to attend as many networking events as possible. Make yourself available, and you will quickly learn that events organized by service providers attract many executives who take the opportunity to engage among themselves and have a unique face-to-face opportunity to interact and collaborate.”

Don’t go alone

McDonnell recommended that companies send multiple representatives, given the large scale of the meeting. It’ll be easier to get more from the conference as a larger team than as an individual, he said.

Practice your elevator pitch

With significant networking events being a part of every JPM, Lishan Aklog, Lucid Diagnostics CEO, said that having your company’s story prepared is critical. You may run into people who are interested, but you will only have a few minutes to tell your company story, he said.

Find a good meeting spot

Bagai mentioned that getting meeting spaces can be complex depending on where the meeting is, and meeting outside a pre-booked room can be challenging. But Dupont said that while JPM’s home is billed as the Westin St. Francis Hotel off of Union Square, meetings do not have to be there. He suggested establishing a home base in the lobby of a nearby hotel or in a cafe.

Manage your expectations

Brent Vaughan, CEO of Cognito Therapeutics, told BioSpace that it’s vital to know that you may not speak to everyone you hope to, or dive into the depth you’d planned on.

“If you’re lucky enough to have meetings with some of them, I think you should think about what your goals are. Your goal is to decide if there’s enough mutual interest for a more material meeting,” Vaughan said. “If you find a group that wants to give you an hour and have people sit down and listen to it, I think you’re pretty fortunate.”

While nobody closes their investment at JPM, he added, you can schedule additional meetings later and eventually lay the groundwork for more productive encounters.

Bring an umbrella and comfortable shoes

According to Ray Therapeutics’s CEO Paul Bresge, it often rains during the conference. And nestled in the heart of hilly San Francisco, wearing the right footwear will help make the extensive walking more enjoyable, experts told BioSpace.

Tyler Patchen is a staff writer at BioSpace. You can reach him at tyler.patchen@biospace.com. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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