How Elevation Oncology Raised Nearly $200M in 2 Years
Shawn Leland was in Munich when he had the idea. Watching a presentation on targeted therapies for lung cancer at the 2018 European Society for Medical Oncology conference, a single slide taught him of the neuregulin-1 gene fusion, a rare target present in 0.2% to 0.5% of solid tumors.
The PharmD knew that, with his background in business development and oncology search and evaluation, he had tons of existing relationships in biotech and pharmaceuticals that he could leverage to help him in founding Elevation Oncology.
But Leland never anticipated being an entrepreneur.
“It's not something that I would have foreseen in the cards, especially at my age.” Leland said. “It's something that I could have seen maybe doing much later in my career, but it was the right time, the right place. Coming across this idea, this concept, I just felt like it was too good to pass up.”
Today, Elevation Oncology is creating a scientific technology that has the potential to change patient lives by testing tumors to reveal their unique genomic makeup. By doing this, doctors can more accurately target cancer with more effective treatments.
With so many lives being affected by cancer in one way or another, investors see the company’s value. Since its inception in 2019, Elevation has raised nearly $200 million to support its scientific developments—despite the fact that Leland had never raised seed funding before.
“It's gone even faster than I had anticipated,” Leland told us. “When we did the initial, series A financing back in July of 2019, that $32.5 million funded the company all the way through the mid-part of 2021.”
He told us that Elevation stands out among its precision oncology competitors because what they’re working on is unlike any project from another pharma or biotech company out there. They’re taking the industry to the next level.
And while the company’s life has largely been during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it has caused hospitals to become overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, it has not stopped cancer patients’ needs for treatment.
“Elevation’s growth has been quite significant,” Leland said. “When I formed the company in July of 2019 all the way until March of 2020, we were two full-time employees. After getting all the way through 2020, we were a total of eight employees. Now, we have a total of 14 employees with plans to grow to slightly north of 30 by the end of this year.”
Leland even said that the work-from-home shift caused by COVID-19 has been a benefit to Elevation.
“Being a virtual company has catered to our ability and flexibility to recruit top tier talent,” Leland said. “Prior to COVID, it was almost like, unless you were a company based in Boston or San Francisco or the New York metro area, recruiting top tier talent was a challenge.”
Now, he says the company can recruit anyone from anywhere.
“So our talent pool isn't just focused on one of those three geographic areas,” Leland said. Our talent pool is all over the U.S. and all over the world.”
To learn more about Elevation’s raises, challenges and growth, check out the Founder Shares podcast available wherever you listen to podcasts.
The blog content should not be construed as legal advice.
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