The Stonehill Chapter of the FMA was honored to welcome to campus on November 29 Stephen From, President and CEO of EyeGate Pharma. In the continuation of our 2011-12 Executive Lecture Series, Mr. From led a captivating discussion on the topic of Entrepreneurial Finance. Born and educated in Canada, Stephen appeared to catch the entrepreneur bug at a very early age with a variety of small business ventures to finance his education. After graduation, he partnering with friends in starting a mortgage financing business. But like many successful entrepreneurs, such early ventures have their ups and downs. So when the bottom fell out of the real estate market in Canada and the mortgage business closed its doors, Mr. From went back to school to study accounting. Why accounting? “I felt like I could always find a job in accounting”, said Mr. From. Post graduation, he spent time with Price Waterhouse – Toronto where he garnered the Canadian Chartered Public Accountant designation (equivalent to the US CPA designation).
It was not too long when an opportunity to jump into the Investment Banking came along leading Stephen on an interesting journey to London, then New York. While the demands of this business were high, so were the rewards. But with a new family in the making, Mr. From explained that his priorities shifted and he took the position of CFO of a small biotech concern in Paris. When offered the opportunity to be the CEO of a new company in the field of ophthalmology, the entrepreneurial bug bit him again. Thus, he took the reins of this highly risky but no less exciting venture. With the assistance of our own Professor Mullen, they moved the company from France to Boston, raised the initial financing and hired the team to initiate clinical development of EyeGate’s technology platform.
While the attached slides provide an introduction to EyeGate, Stephen focused much of his commentary on how the financing of a venture like this works and the importance of understanding what you are about and how you convey that message to investors and strategic partners. “The mission statement of a firm is critical and has to truly define what the company is about”, commented Mr. From. “You should clearly understand what a company does by the mission statement. It should be only one step removed from the day to day activities of the enterprise.” To paraphrase his further comments, “There was a time when I did not believe in the value of Mission Statements. Maybe it was because they were often written so poorly. But I am now a believer in the value of a well crafted, well defined mission statement.”
Our thanks to Mr. From for a very interesting and insightful discussion. Stephen From Presentation