Frequently Asked Questions

Investing

Does RA Capital invest in private companies?
Yes. RA Capital manages a multi-stage investment strategy investing in public and private development-stage biotech companies. The flexibility of its strategy allows RA Capital to provide seed funding to startups and to lead private, IPO, and follow-on financings for its portfolio companies, both facilitating the crossover process and allowing management teams to drive value creation with fewer capital concerns from inception through commercialization.

Does RA Capital lead rounds?
Yes. We can lead, co-lead, or join a round that others are leading. Even if we are an existing shareholder of a company, there may be times that we can lead the next round (which is credible to new investors if we are investing super pro-rata).

Does RA Capital co-invest in rounds that others are leading?
Yes.

Is any round too early for RA Capital?
No. We even help form companies from scratch. We’ll invest in Seed rounds, Series A, B, C, etc. We judge how investible a company is not by the maturity of the company itself but by how validated the concept is and, if not validated, how much time and money it will take to validate it. So we might invest in a newly formed private company that is three years from IND that requires a reasonable amount of capital to reach proof-of-concept data for solving an important problem. And we might not invest in a public company that is running a five-year Phase 3 trial with a novel mechanism based on a post-hoc analysis of a failed Phase 2 study.

Do you have a minimum check size for a financing round?
When deciding how much to invest, we focus on whether the return is likely to be impactful for our fund. That means that we might invest a small amount in a very small company, maybe even under $1M in a seed round, or a larger amount in a large company that we think has a lot of upside (we have invested as much as $75M in a single round). But we are unlikely to invest a small amount in a large company (e.g. $5M in a $500M to own 1%) unless it’s just the first step towards establishing greater ownership.

How can I talk to your team about funding my company?
If you don’t know anyone at RA Capital, then just email the appropriate person listed on our Contact page. Please include a description of your project (ideally with indication, target, concept, and maybe comparable companies and competitors) that will help us figure out the right people on our team to reach out to you and learn about your venture. While we have one contact for you to use if you are with an already formed company (private or public) and another if you are working on forming a company, your pitch will get to the right person regardless of which contact you reach out to.

Do you have a valuation range you stick to?
We’ll invest in companies with valuations ranging from essentially nothing (newcos we form) to, let’s say, $10B. What matters more than valuation is how much more value there is to create.

If RA Capital leads a round, will you bring other investors into a round?
We can and have many times. We can make introductions, advise a management team on allocations, and help lead a process to ensure that other investors reach their investment decisions by a particular deadline to help a company close a financing by a reasonable deadline. Even when we aren’t leading a round, we are happy to help fill out the round by sharing our thesis with our peers to help them reach a decision. We can work with investors we know as well as investors we don’t know that management teams introduce us to.

Does RA Capital have limits on how much of a company it will own?
We do not have any particular constraints. We’ve owned as much as 30% of a public company, but that is not a limit.

Does RA Capital have a preference of funds that it would want to co-invest with?
We have co-invested with many other investors. We prefer to work with peers who have a track record of deep diligence and constructive problem solving. Fortunately, that’s a lot of people. We tend to prefer working with funds that cut larger checks as their interests are better aligned with ours and that of the company since large positions are harder to flip shortly after an IPO. We’ve found that investors with larger stakes tend to think more holistically and ambitiously about value creation, which appeals to us.

Boards

Do you take board seats?
When we invest in private companies, a member of our team almost always joins the board as an observer or director. The people who take those positions then serve as conduits for all of the resources of our firm for the benefit of the company.

Do you stay on the board when a private company goes public?
If a member of our team is a director of a company, then in many cases they will remain on the board after the company goes public. Observerships terminate at the IPO.

When do you decide to step off a board?
When we no longer feel that we can add value at the board level (e.g. company has a clear plan and is well capitalized and now just needs to execute) and would be better served by having others occupy that seat.

TechAtlas Maps

Will my company end up on your maps?
Our team only includes publicly available information on the maps that you see - no confidential information. If a company has disclosed the existence of a program on its website, in a paper, at a conference, or in a patent, our team may decide to include it on a map.

Why isn’t my program on your map and can I ask you to add it?
Either A) we missed it and will add it or B) we know of the program but have not yet updated the graphic to include it. We only disclose what’s public, so if you haven’t yet publicly disclosed a program, then we won’t add it. But all you have to do is mention your program (drug name and indication) on your website and we’ll then be able to give it a place on a map.

Why can’t I clearly see the maps on this website?
Because they are proprietary to RA Capital/TechAtlas, and we are only showing you a teaser to stimulate further discussion.

How can I see the full maps clearly?
Come to our offices to explore the maps with us. We have large, touch-screen displays in our offices that make it easy to navigate the maps. We’re always looking for productive brainstorms with researchers, clinicians, entrepreneurs, drug hunters, small, innovative companies, large biotech and pharma, payers, policy makers, and institutions interested in partnering with RA Capital. We have mobile systems or, in a pinch, we can print out the maps if we’re going to do some brainstorming on the road.

Can I have or purchase a map?
We do not sell the maps. We can make them available to our portfolio companies (e.g. laminated to draw on) and have in the past provided them to disease-focused foundations and the FDA.

How do you decide on what to map?
We’re mapping everything that is of interest to us. There are plenty of topics that we still want to get to. Sometimes we see a critical mass of new ideas emerge around a common theme (e.g., immuno-oncology). We have even structured maps based on the needs of particular portfolio companies so that they can see many of the indications to which their platform technology could be applied. As new platforms emerge, they may inspire us to map the world from their perspective.

From what perspective do you map technologies?
Our disease maps are typically mapped from the standpoint of a physician who wants to best treat a patient; our analyses factor in efficacy, safety, tolerability, convenience, and cost considerations. Mechanism of action (MOA – in and of itself not important to a patient) is important to the extent that it helps predict how new drug candidates are likely to perform (e.g., drugs with sufficiently different MOAs are more likely to have non-overlapping toxicities and additive or synergistic efficacy, making them potentially combinable, which is what’s important to a physician). Our “capability” maps (e.g. immuno-oncology, gene therapy, or epigenetics) take the perspective of a drug developer trying to make a useful product with a particular function. The same technology, for example a CAR-T program targeting multiple myeloma (MM) may appear both on the MM map in the context of other MM drugs as well as on the immuno-oncology map in juxtaposition to other CAR-T programs, including those targeting other cancers, as well as PD-1 antibodies and cancer vaccines. Nearly all the maps have what we call a Solutions Matrix that shows how well-equipped each competitor is in a given field and which technologies could help fill each player’s gaps. We also create strategy maps that look at the world from the perspective of a particular large pharma so that we can help smaller companies understand what might be important to potential partners/acquirers.

Will you sign a CDA?
Yes, when we are interested in learning more than you can provide non-confidentially. We can provide a simple CDA.

Can the maps directly benefit patients?
Our maps highlight compelling trials and drug candidates we consider most likely to improve the standard of care, which we expect may be of interest to patients. The ideal way for us to help patients would be through patient advocacy groups; we do not have a formal mechanism for interacting with patients. When we have spoken with individuals seeking medical information, we have volunteered a list of recently approved products and advanced clinical trials that we considered credible for them to discuss with their physician.

Can the maps help me decide my next career move?
Yes. Time permitting, we would be happy to help. How an individual makes an important career decision teaches us something about how we should think about investing our own time and capital.

RA Capital Courses

Why does RA Capital teach courses?
We are excited to invest in educating the next generation of our industry’s leaders. It’s not enough for us to learn important lessons from our successes and mistakes - we want to share that hard-earned knowledge with others so all of us in this field can improve together.

Can an executive enroll in your Advanced Concepts course?
At the moment, our course is designed to accommodate the needs of late-stage graduate students and early-career working professionals. We are in the process of developing content for mid-career and executive-level courses but haven’t yet launched the associated modules. Regardless of career stage, all interested individuals can benefit from our course materials, many of which appear in our Perspectives section.

Getting in Touch

Does it help if someone you know makes an introduction on behalf of a company?
It doesn’t hurt, but it’s not necessary. We consider every idea on its own merits and therefore will evaluate any pitch regardless of how it comes to us.

Whom do I have to meet at RA Capital to secure an investment?
Any member of the Investment team can champion an investment recommendation. If your first meeting or call is with a member of the Investment team, there is a good chance that one or more members of the TechAtlas team with relevant domain expertise will join or may subsequently be asked to help conduct diligence. If your first meeting or call is with an Associate on the TechAtlas team, that’s a good opportunity to accelerate our decision-making process since TechAtlas can put your technology and plan into the broader competitive context that our Investment team will want to see before making a decision. Ultimately, everyone on our team is working towards getting us to a credible, high-conviction “yes”, if not now, then in the future under defined, possible circumstances (e.g. upon generating a certain data set).

What should I include about my company when I first reach out to RA Capital?
In the body of the email, please mention what product you are developing (drug, device, diagnostic) for what problem (disease), why it’s likely to be better than what’s on the market and in development, the stage of development and upcoming milestones (e.g. if preclinical, when are you expecting to file an IND), how much you are looking to raise, and something about the team’s qualifications and existing investors. If a drug candidate, please include what the modality is (oligo, small-mol, antibody, cell therapy, AAV, etc), what the target is if you are comfortable disclosing that, and what data you can share (even if under CDA). Please attach a non-confidential slide deck. Based on your email, we’ll pull together the right team. Depending on how much we can already tell from the non-confidential deck that your plan fits with what we’re looking for, we may offer you the option to go straight to signing a confidential disclosure agreement (CDA), which we can provide, so that we can accelerate diligence with a more in-depth discussion.

I’m a drug hunter – could your maps help me?
Yes. Beyond the maps, RA Capital/TechAtlas is a platform for drug hunting and company formation. See Venture at RA.

How can I become a TechAtlas Associate?
We welcome all qualified applicants. After a phone interview, some applicants are asked to make a map of an area we already know well. A few are then invited in for final interviews and to present their map to members of our team, after which we make a hiring decision (see Join Us).