Marc Beer: Championing the Entrepreneurial Spirit in Biotech
Marc Beer has proven his entrepreneurial prowess again and again with immense success. With a career that has spanned more than 25 years, Beer has brought numerous companies to the pinnacle of success for one simple reason – he is a master at developing unique workable solutions that solve immediate and pressing problems.
Beer graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business from Miami University in 1987. This education and his innate talent prepared him for the career path he has followed since, a career path that began in pharmaceutical sales and marketing and lead to the position of Vice President of Global Marketing at Genzyme (NASDAQ: GENZ). This was a position that allowed Beer to get Genzyme out in front of the world, as he promoted the company’s product line, a product line geared toward the more than 350 million medically underserved people across the globe suffering from any of the more than 7,000 rare diseases that afflict human kind.
The experience of helping the underserved prompted Beer to consider upping his game. Beer wanted to push further, to make a difference by addressing issues that were pressing and difficult to solve in the pharmaceutical industry, and his experience up to this point had set him up perfectly to set out on his own. This is what led Marc Beer to launch his first company.
It was 2007 and Beer was on top of the world. His first venture, ViaCell, which he launched in 2000 following his time in pharmaceutical sales and marketing, had successfully blossomed into a biotechnology company that employed 300 people and went public in 2005, listing on NASDAQ as VIAC. The company specialized in the collection and preservation of umbilical cord blood stem cells for development and use to treat a variety of conditions in the human body.
In 2007, seven short years after founding the company, Beer sold ViaCell to PerkinElmer for $300 million. He had the world by the tail, with his first massive entrepreneurial success under his belt and a wonderful family full of love. Unfortunately, this is precisely when tragedy struck.
Shortly after the sale of ViaCell, Beer’s wife died suddenly from a pulmonary embolism at the age of 42. Devastated, Beer took solace in raising his three children full-time. However, just two years later, it was one of those children – his 14-year-old daughter – who told her dad that he needed to get back on the horse and start a new company. She turned the sage advice he had given her on “living with purpose” back on him, compassionately informing him that his life’s purpose was not driving her to and from school every day.
Fortunately, he listened to her advice, relaunching an entrepreneurial career that has led him to another decade of massive success, the pinnacle of which was the launch and growth of his latest company – Renovia.
Beer’s most recent climb to success has been as a co-founder, CEO, and Chairman of Renovia. The company has its roots firmly planted in a phone call Beer received from a gynecologist, Dr. Ray Iglesias, who had been performing pelvic floor surgeries for 35 years. Dr. Iglesias had spent nearly a decade trying to determine how to help women avoid surgery and he had an idea that he brought to Beer through that initial phone call – a phone call that changed Beer’s life.
In 2016, Beer partnered with Dr. Iglesias and Yolanda Lorié to found Renovia, a Boston-based med-tech company that focuses on the development of therapeutic and diagnostic devices for women with pelvic floor disorders, with the goal of providing first-line diagnosis and treatment. Pelvic floor disorders include pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, and fecal incontinence, disorders that affect close to 25% of women in the U.S.
Beer saw the number of women suffering from pelvic floor disorders as a serious issue, with ambulatory physician costs in 2005-2006 at $298 million, and one that he could directly impact. It is Beer’s intention to lead the development of Renovia to a successful combination of “innovative and proprietary sensor technologies” with a “digital health platform.”
The year 2018 has been one of milestones for Renovia. The company had its first product, Leva, approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in April. Beer’s most recent success at the helm of Renovia is the acquisition of a Series B round of funding, to the tune of $32 million, with an additional $10 million in venture funding. Series B funding has been helmed by Perceptive Advisors of New York and Ascension Ventures of Missouri. The Longwood Fund, a healthcare investment firm that has been investing in Renovia from the beginning, also contributed to Series B funding.
In a statement regarding the Series B funding, Beer said, “We are thrilled to have the support of this group of leading healthcare investors who share our vision to better diagnose, treat and improve the lives of millions of women affected by pelvic floor disorders. Combining our innovative and proprietary sensor technologies and form factors with a digital health platform will give our customers valuable data to inform new treatment options, drive greater knowledge and understanding of pelvic floor disorders, and ultimately lower long-term healthcare costs.”
The goal behind Renovia’s approach is to remove the stigma associated with discussing pelvic floor disorders, something that stops millions of women from seeking treatment for their condition. Through their line of products, Renovia strives to use their research to help diagnose and treat pelvic floor disorders, which can be caused by any of the following:
- Uterine fibroids
- Digestive diseases
- Chronic pelvic inflammatory disease
- Interstitial cystitis
Renovia’s goal is to help women who suffer with pelvic floor disorders to regain strength and control of their pelvic floor muscles through the use of FDA-approved medical devices paired with app technology and data management that are patient-based. This will allow patients to be in the driver’s seat as they improve their health and it will ultimately result in lower long-term healthcare costs for both patients and the healthcare industry.
As a part of this strategy, Marc Beer and Renovia back the Women’s Preventive Services Initiative (WPSI) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) in recommending that women be screened for urinary incontinence. Dr. Samantha Pulliam, Chief Medical Officer at Renovia, says, “The ACOG Committee Opinion and the WSPI screening recommendations are both so well aligned with Renovia’s commitment to awareness and first-line treatment. Both recommendations support a call-to-action related to female pelvic health, and we are excited for the positive health impact they can have for millions of women who experience urinary incontinence and other pelvic floor disorders.”
For Marc Beer, It’s All About People
All this success has not gone to Marc Beer’s head. He knows that when it comes down to it, the success he has experienced is because of the people he has worked with and the talent he has brought on board. Talent acquisition and organizational structure are the primary focus of Beer’s workday. He firmly believes if he has the right talent and leadership teams in place, everything else will take care of itself.
On top of this, Beer takes goal setting seriously. Once goals are set, resource allocation and capital efficiency can be applied, and since data collection takes place 24/7, the process of allocating resources is more efficient and cost-effective, allowing for the all-important cashflow to continue to boost the business and keep it moving in the right direction.
Marc Beer is intent on giving back to the community in ways that go beyond the scope of his work. This is why he uses his leadership and problem-solving abilities to better the lives of others. On the business side of giving back, Beer has served as a member of the Notre Dame Research and Commercialization Advisory Committee and the Graduate Studies Research and Advisory Council. In addition, he is currently a serving member of the Miami University Business Advisory Council.
On the health side of the service equation, Beer is dedicated to helping others in difficult health situations. In the past, he has served as a member of the Mass Life Science Board for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) Emerging Companies Section Governing Board. He has also served as a member of the board of directors of Erytech Pharma (NASDAQ: ERYP).
However, this is just the tip of the ice berg. Beer has also given back through his previous service on the board of directors of the Joe Andruzzi Cancer Foundation, a foundation that provides financial support for cancer patients and their families, and by getting deeply involved with Minerva Neurosciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: NERV), a company that strives to make a difference in the lives of patients who suffer from diseases of the central nervous system. For Minerva Neurosciences, Beer has served as a member of their audit committee and as the Founding Chairman of the Board and chair of the committee for compensation.
Dynamic Leadership When It’s Needed Most
Marc Beer is a highly successful entrepreneur and he has spoken about what this entails. The entrepreneurial advice he gives includes:
- Creating a financial plan
- Being willing to make sacrifices
- Focusing on winning
- Remaining logical
- Learning from failure
- Enjoying the entrepreneurial process
- Giving back to the community
Beer has followed this advice throughout his life, committing himself improving the lives of medical practitioners and their patients by providing leadership and ingenious problem-solving skills to bridge the gap between problems and workable solutions. This has been evident with his success in building ViaCell and he has repeated that success with his current company, Renovia. He is an invaluable member of and leader in the biotech business community.