I recently caught up with Braeden Lichti, a Canadian investor and co-founder of a private investment firm that has launched several healthcare companies, to ask him about how he got his start. As an investor, his main focus is the life sciences sector. He has played a lead role in creating, sourcing, financing, and developing many different companies. What’s his secret sauce to growth and success? Read on to learn more.
1. How did you get your start in your career?
A combination of luck, hard work, and strong business partners got me to where I am today. In 2008, I was a young guy in my early 20s interested in working in the financial industry. I started working in the capital markets at an investor relations firm. At the time, we mostly represented mining and oil and gas companies traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange. During this time, I was able to network and meet a few prominent investment bankers in the US that took me under their wings. I invested into various companies they were backing, and I got very lucky on a few. The bankers who mentored me were mainly focused on mid- and small- cap companies with revenues greater than $10 million; consistent growth; and improving, healthy margins. The companies and investment structures were all different and I learned a lot. These experiences allowed me to transition to financing companies that I source or build with my own team. Since 2014, I have been financing and advising companies, helping them prepare for large US institutional investment banking raises and public market listing. Around 2016, we decided to take a more hands-on approach with our investments: we like to use the term “venture building.”
2. What type of work do you do?
We have been mainly focused on supporting scientists in the biotech and medtech sector, negotiating licensing deals so we can spin out their technology to form new companies. Typically, we are tasked with building the executive management teams: implementing the right corporate governance, finding partnerships (such as the right Contract Research Organization, or a joint venture partner), and securing the financing to support the technology’s advancements.
3. What has been your proudest career achievement?
There are many. I love the constant challenges and being able to learn something new every day. It’s also satisfying to be part of the value creation chain so early on in our companies and watching them grow. Through this process, I’m very proud of the jobs we create and to be able to support such talented scientists.
2019 was a big year for my company, but it was due to efforts we’d been working on since 2016 – building, directly investing, and advising, two pre-clinical biotech companies. We worked with both private companies that at the time had preclinical assets and almost no operating capital, to multi-million-dollar financings with multiple advanced clinical programs. We rang the opening bell at both of their Nasdaq listing debuts in 2019.
4. What time does your alarm go off on weekdays?
Around 5:30 a.m. I often get my best work done – and my best ideas – before sunrise
5. What is the most outlandish advice you’ve ever received in your career?
That’s a tough one! The worst advice I’ve ever been given or seen given is “just keep working hard or keep grinding and it will come together.” The truth is that you need to slow down, step back, and properly assess your growth. If you’re not progressing, you need to figure out why.
I have always done my best to surround myself with really smart people, who give great advice and constructive criticism. Having older, experienced mentors has helped me tremendously – learning from them, both their successes and failures, has helped me a lot.
6. What advice do you have for the next generation of investors?
Here are a few that come to mind: Only invest with a plan for holding for long-term. Don’t chase trends. Invest in businesses which have meaningful barrier to entry, and competitive advantages that others will not be able to imitate or to compete with easily. Learn the difference between a great company and a great investment.
Learn more about Braeden’s recent investment at: https://elevaiskincare.com
Sheeva Azma is a freelance writer and trained neuroscientist. She writes about science, technology, health, business, and policy. Sheeva is also founder of her own science writing company, Fancy Comma, LLC. Find her on the web at https://fancycomma.com