VDP-124 Company building management in VitaDAO

The trial period of the builder squad has come to an end, it is time to draw conclusions and decide what to do next, with the objective of advancing our portfolio of spinout projects as fast as possible, in an efficient way.

While the builder squad had the merit of prototyping the first setup to manage our growing number of spinout projects, the need emerged for alternative approaches.

Here is a simple proposal for the follow-up:

  1. Confirm or assign an internal project lead to each of our spinouts with a formal mission letter setting clear goals for each project lead before he/she starts the work

  2. Project leads will preferably have experience in biotech company building, in particular therapeutics. A single person can be assigned to more than one project, as is the case with Matrix Bio, Jonathan An, Evandro Fang and so on.

  3. Each project lead is accountable for the execution of the research plan by the PI and/or the project research team (which can be internal, as in the case of ARTAN, or external, as in the case of ApoptoSENS, or a mix) and of the continuation of the project, until VitaDAO has skin in the game.

  4. Builder Squad will be merged with the Dealflow Working Group. This will enable broader access to talent and resources from the community.

  5. The builder squad is the community of project leads. The squad will be shepherded by an experienced biotech builder. Officially, the project leads will report directly to VitaCORE.

  6. Day-to-day management of projects is the responsibility of the project leads, who can consult the builder squad lead, members of the dealflow working group (including the 3+ VitaCore members already in the group), and senior reviewers for advice, and who shall escalate major decisions to VitaCORE.

  7. During quarterly reviews, projects will present progress to VitaCore and lean on SAB for expert-led advice

  8. Each project shall comply with the portfolio management process, including quarterly project reviews, as a formal checkpoint on project progress, in terms of results, planning, and cost

  9. Projects requiring more frequent supervision may be required to also report their progress on a bi-weekly basis at a company building routine, animated by one of the project leads and/or the Dealflow Working Group point of contact.

  10. The objective of the builder squad is solely to advance our portfolio of spinout projects as fast as possible, in a collaborative and efficient way, leaning into resources from the community and VitaCore to accelerate projects’ development.

  11. VitaCORE has the right to reassign a project to a different project lead based on performance with a majority vote

  12. The builder squad and Molecule commit to find a constructive relationship as projects become fractionalized, taking into account the constraints imposed by the governance of intellectual property tokens, with the common goal of making each project a commercial success

The main features of this setup are:

  • Giving the responsibility to those who are most qualified and who know the project best: the project leads

  • Avoiding unnecessary management layers, boosting speed and efficiency

  • Ensuring focus on a single well defined mission

This setup is compatible with a relatively reduced number of projects, some of which require relatively little supervision. As we scale, this setup may need to evolve.

  • Agree
  • Revisions Requested (Detail in Comments)
  • Disagree
0 voters
3 Likes

Awesome initiative and ideas @Paolo!

Agree on all points! Key open question I have is how we want to incentivize it an outcomed aligned way that is competitive

  • What is the compensation structure for project leads and contributors? Ideally a combo of small base salary + project equity via IP-tokens etc. based on achieving certain milestones etc?

  • Maybe worth doing a bonus structure for timely execution and budget management?

  • Ideally we have a designated project lead like you, and/or Eleanor or someone else to have the different project leads report to?

  • How frequently will portfolio updates be expected from leads to report? Quarterly or more often?

  • What are the metrics/KPIs used to evaluate project lead performance?

Resource Allocation

  • What should be the process for leads to request additional budget or contributors?
  • How should our strategy looks like to prioritize and allocate resources across the different research projects in the portfolio?
  • Is there a standard timebox or kill criteria established for each project?

Community Involvement

  • What is the mechanism for community feedback or input on projects? Maybe a quarterly call where all present would be the best way to enable Q&A, as well as how the community can get involved and help
  • How can the community get involved in advancing projects?

Formalizing the incentive structure, oversight rhythm, resource allocation policy, and community engagement upfront will probably help and enable effective management of the project lead structure.

2 Likes

Hi @vincent thank you for the valuable comments and questions. I am reviewing them with Eleanor and will get back with answers.

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Great proposal Paolo!

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What are the criteria to assign a project lead to one of our investments? We have made several investments so far and which ones would be eligible for a project lead?

Also how are we going to select the Shepherd?

Point 12 is extremely fuzzy. What shape would this constructive relationship take? What are these constraints that we are talking about? How would we define commercial success? These projects can take up to 10-15 years to be commercialized ? What would be intermediate KPIs?

1 Like

Love this improvement! Is it possible to release project leads’s CV to vitaDAO’s community? It would be great to keep it transparent.

Dear all, thank you for the valuable comments. Working on them …

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  1. Who appoints the “experienced biotech builder” to shepherd the squad and to whom is him/her accountable?
  2. Who evaluates and assigns/hire each project lead? We need someone with good hiring experience.
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Thank you again @vincent, @michele.gallia, @Winnie, @alexdobrin.
Sorry it took so long to elaborate the answers.
Please find them below.

Comments in italic, replies in blue

Vincent Weisser

Agree on all points! Key open question I have is how we want to incentivize it an outcome aligned way that is competitive

  • What is the compensation structure for project leads and contributors? Ideally a combo of small base salary + project equity via IP-tokens etc. based on achieving certain milestones etc?
    Agreed. There are three possible cases: 1. the project is still in the IP-NFT phase, where the ownership is not fractioned: in this case the combo could be USDC + VITA; 2. the project’s IP-NFT has been fractionalized: in this case the combo could be USDC + IPT, as you suggest; 3. the project has been spun out into a startup: in this case the combo could be USDC plus shares

  • Maybe worth doing a bonus structure for timely execution and budget management?
    Here it is worth keeping in mind that most of our projects are external, such as ApoptoSENS carried out by SENS, which has the primary OTOCOQ responsibility for the project. The VitaDAO project lead within the builder squad goes on top with a supervisory role and cannot master all levers. Therefore, I believe that enforcing the combo compensation as above is already a sufficient incentive.

  • Ideally we have a designated project lead like you, and/or Eleanor or someone else to have the different project leads report to?
    We would stick to the proposal and have the project leads report to VitaCORE in its entirety and not to an intermediary like Eleanor or myself, in order to give maximum empowerment to the project leads and to avoid management layers. Eleanor and I would be happy to be the key contact points within VitaCORE for the project leads, briefing the other VitaCORE members for any major decisions, which would remain the prerogative of VitaCORE in full. This would be consistent with our portfolio management role

  • How frequently will portfolio updates be expected from leads to report? Quarterly or more often?
    Light reporting at the bi-weekly builder squad meeting (order of 5 minutes and 1 slide), full reporting at the quarterly reviews (order of 20 minutes and 3-4 slides)

  • What are the metrics/KPIs used to evaluate project lead performance?
    On Time On Cost On Quality (OTOCOQ) execution of the research plan as per proposal/contract

Resource Allocation

  • What should be the process for leads to request additional budget or contributors?
    See the “Budget Contingency File” section of VDP-102

  • How should our strategy look like to prioritize and allocate resources across the different research projects in the portfolio?
    Concerning projects already in the portfolio, the resources (cash) are allocated at the beginning of each project based on the proposal that was approved, except for deviations, which are covered in the point above. Concerning new projects, we have relatively strong eligibility criteria (VDP-106). And we give preference to early stage research that still has not been spun out into a company. Additionally, we could identify specific under-evaluated and/or under-funded areas that we might want to give priority to, such as specific hallmarks of aging or specific diseases.

  • Is there a standard timebox or kill criteria established for each project?
    No, we do not have one at the moment. Being able to kill underperforming projects (cost, planning, results) is important, and it is the prerogative of VitaCORE based on progress reports at quarterly reviews or other exceptional events, which require action. The SAB will be consulted for advice.

Community Involvement

  • What is the mechanism for community feedback or input on projects? Maybe a quarterly call where all present would be the best way to enable Q&A, as well as how the community can get involved and help
    The quarterly reviews could be opened to the community. They already are to the dealflow working group members. The issue here is confidentiality and conflict of interest. Perhaps a better way would be to ensure that all community people that can provide valuable feedback are characterized in our CRM with their specific competences and then consulted on a need basis, and under NDA.

  • How can the community get involved in advancing projects?
    Formalizing the incentive structure, oversight rhythm, resource allocation policy, and community engagement upfront will probably help and enable effective management of the project lead structure.

Thank you for your comments, we hope the above replies address them

Michele Gallia

What are the criteria to assign a project lead to one of our investments? We have made several investments so far and which ones would be eligible for a project lead?
All non-startup projects, for more details see the answer to the first questions of Vincent Weisser, above

Also how are we going to select the Shepherd?
I assume that you refer to “The squad will be shepherded by an experienced biotech builder” of article 5, which is the same as “the “builder squad lead” of article 6. First of all, to avoid confusion, I will edit the proposal to use only one term, “lead”. Then, to address your question, for the next person to lead the squad, Eleanor and I propose Anthony, who we believe fits the requirement of an experienced biotech builder. Any VitaDAO contributor can propose other candidates. Decision will be made by vote within VitaCORE as soon as the proposal is approved on chain.

Point 12 is extremely fuzzy. What shape would this constructive relationship take? What are these constraints that we are talking about?
VitaDAO understands and accepts that the governance of the project, if and when the associated IP-NFT is fractionalized, as was the case for Viktor Korolchuk project, should be compliant with legal constraints imposed by the fractionalization process.
Molecule understands and accepts that the leadership should be with the most qualified person, which by default should be the project lead that successfully ensured the execution of the project, ideally bringing the project to the stage where it is generating promising data and there is a valid and commercialisable IP pathway.

How would we define commercial success? These projects can take up to 10-15 years to be commercialized ? What would be intermediate KPIs?
Each project’s research plan should be designed to produce results that justify an inflection point for subsequent funding. This plan can be adjusted as the project moves along, but the primary KPI is its execution. This would pave the way for a successful IPT launch, which would also be a success milestone.

Winnie

Love this improvement! Is it possible to release project leads’s CV to vitaDAO’s community? It would be great to keep it transparent.
Yes, at least in abbreviated form and with pre-agreed consent from the project leads.

Alex

Who appoints the “experienced biotech builder” to shepherd the squad
Please see the answer to the second question of Michele

and to whom is him/her accountable?
To VitaCORE

Who evaluates and assigns/hire each project lead? We need someone with good hiring experience.
The builder squad lead, taking taking inputs from any VitaDAO contributor. It should be emphasized that project leads are not full-time positions, although they can become so if the same person is leading several projects. This is not yet the case, given the small number of projects we have.

1 Like

Great write-up, and congrats on ending the year on a positive note.

I got a couple of questions.

How does this setup ensure that shared resources (e.g. tech team) are properly allocated and managed?

How do ‘fractionalized projects’ ensure optimal resource use and avoid counter-productive competition within those projects?

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