Conversations #18 - Celine Halioua

Founder & CEO of Loyal for Dogs

  
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A conversation with CEO of Loyal, Celine Halioua—

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Hey Eclectic Spacewalkers!

This past month, we sat down with Celine Halioua.

Celine is the founder and CEO of Loyal for Dogs. Loyal is a company working to develop therapies that treat the underlying causes of aging in dogs. All in hopes of coming at the “human longevity” problem from a different, albeit furrier, angle.

Celine has a background in venture capital, neuroscience, and was once chief of staff to Laura Deming at the Longevity Fund before founding her own startup. Our conversation was as wide-ranging as the difference between a Golden Retriever and a Chihuahua.

We discussed what biotech is, how to build a biotech company, and what the benefits of increased funding in biotech would mean for the future of not just dogs, but humans.

“"What is biotechnology? Specifically therapeutics for pathological aging"

  • The Summer of 2019, I gave a series of lectures to Longevity Fund’s Venture Fellows on the basics of building a biotechnology company. This is the write up of those lectures, with some additions by Laura Deming & myself.

    • First Steps

    • Raising Money

    • Building in Bio

    • Regulation & Clinical Trials”

Loyal recently completed its first clinical study:

“The Healthspan study successfully recruited over 500 dogs from across the United States, exceeding our target enrollment.

The aim of the Healthspan Study was to better understand various aging and aging-related biomarkers and how they may relate to dog size and age.

Dogs were evaluated by specially trained veterinarians at 11 locations across the country, from traditional private veterinary hospitals to university medical centers, and in our novel pop-up style mobile study sites.

The data gathered in the Healthspan Study will advance the field's understanding of aging in dogs and help develop treatments that reduce the impact of aging on our dogs. We will publish the results in a peer-reviewed journal; preliminary analysis is estimated to be completed by Q4'21.”

And announced a $27 mil funding round:

“The company raised $27 million in Series A funding in a round, led by Khosla Ventures and including First Round Capital, Box Group, Collaborative Fund, The Longevity Fund and Lachy Groom — all companies involved in Loyal’s $11 million seed round raised in 2020, as well as a group of angel investors. To date, the company has raised $38 million since being founded in 2019 by founder and CEO Celine Halioua.

She touts her choice of investor makeup, 50% female, as a way of elevating more women in the areas of deep tech and longevity.”

We also talked about preventative and curative medicine, along with one of Celine’s main reasons why she is playing a part in spearheading the longevity fight, as well as the question of the importance and benefits of socialized healthcare.

“Cancer is only one of many terrifying diseases of age. Age-related diseases rob us of our memory and personality, our independence, our comfort, and our dignity. I dedicate this blog to my dear friend John, and to the millions like him who have felt the helplessness and primal fear only disease can inflict. As I develop as a scientist and individual, I hope to use this platform to share my learnings, mistakes, and musings on the topics of longevity, biotech, and self-development. I am definitely naïve and certainly overenthusiastic, but that will just make for a more interesting journey (and ample content).” - via Celine’s webstie

We thank Celine for her time, research, and eclectic mind.

Enjoy the conversation, and until next time - Ad Astra!


Timestamps:


Watch on YouTube:


More of Celine’s writing:

How I raised a $11M seed as a first-time, female, solo founder for a biotech moonshot

“Why I’m writing this

There are fewer example of female solo founders — or even female CEOs — who have successfully raised large amounts from venture capitalists. In biotech & moonshot companies, the numbers are especially disastrous.

I hope this is helpful to other founders, especially those who do not fit the pattern or are building something a little more crazy!

My advantages in fundraising

I would like to acknowledge a couple of advantages I have that made raising significantly easier:

I worked in venture capital for two years at a fund specializing in the area my Loyal is in (so I had a preexisting VC network, was seen as a bit of an ‘insider’, and the fund invested in Loyal, which was good signaling).

I was previously a Ph.D. candidate at Oxford in a relevant field & have a B.Sc. in neuroscience from UT Austin (so I have ivy-ish credentials).”

My Meta Goals in Building Loyal

  • “Help build the pattern of female-led deeptech companies; And their ability to drive fund-defining returns (hopefully!)

  • Help build the pattern of founder-driven biotechnology companies

  • Socialize the aging thesis to the broader public*

  • “Make biotech sexy again” - help bring some of the allure and excitement abundant in fields like space to biotech

  • Help build a playbook for scientists becoming operators/startup founders, and become a 99th percentile operator myself”


More on Celine Halioua:

Celine’s Website: https://www.celinehh.com/

Celine’s Twitter: @celinehalioua

Loyal’s Website: https://loyalfordogs.com/

Loyal’s Twitter: @loyalfordogs

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