Managing Partner, Ethan Rigel, spoke with NTX Inno Staff writer, Kevin Cummings, about their new Skin Health Fund and why North Texas is the new home base for Gore Range Capital.
It’s the body’s largest organ, and as Ethan Rigel says, it’s the “route to which other people experience you initially.” It’s skin. And after recently moving to the area, Rigel’s VC firm is looking to invest in it.
“We see fantastic technologies [and] therapeutics devices that are coming out of the space and we view as our mission to at Gore to help the best of those technologies reach,” Rigel, a founding partner at Gore Range, told NTX Inno.
Gore Range was launched in 2015 by Rigel and partner Humberto Antunes, whose connections as the former CEO and board chairman of Galderma Laboratories (which has its U.S. operations based in Fort Worth) first drew the firm’s attention to the region.
The previously New York City-based firm is now in the process of leasing space in Southlake for a second office for its seven-person team.
“One of the things that jumped out to me [about North Texas]… is you can feel the growth happening here. People are moving here, people are doing business here, even through the current pandemic,” Rigel said.
Gore Range’s first fund, closed in early 2019 with success. Overall, it saw investments in 14 companies, with six successful exits, including a $60 million IPO for Connecticut-based BioXcel Therapeutics and a $64 million IPO for Texas-based Castle Biosciences. However, Rigel said that fund was focused on proving their investment thesis – that in order to answer the right questions, “you have to have the right data.”
With its second fund, Gore Range is going back to its roots, focusing on startups whose technology that is focused on skin health and aging could lead to broader innovations in the fields, with implications to other inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
Rigel declined to disclose how much Gore Range’s second fund is looking to raise, but said it is aiming for a 9-figure amount. The fund will aim to create a portfolio of between 10 to 15 companies as lead or co-lead of investors with investments ranging from $5 million to $15 million.
“You have this window into health care where you can really focus on providing solutions that might start in skin but expand out elsewhere,” Rigel said.
To add to its knowledge pool to draw from for investments, Gore Range has named a new seven-member industry advisory board. Among other members of the organization, with ties to places like the University of Southern California and The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, are two locals - dermatologists Dr. Seemal Desai and Dr. Aaron Farberg.
“It really just kind of furthers this idea that we have some of if not the best experts in the space working with us. Skin health is a big robust market. We’ve got the right team to take advantage of it and this advisory board furthers that point,” Rigel said. “We really feel, based on our expertise and our focus, that we can help these companies in their early stage and grow.”
Rigel said the pandemic has been a mixed-positive for the skin care industry. While some aspects, like impulse consumer buys have declined, other areas have increased. He said that for one products that treat dermatological issues are typically easily addressed through telehealth services, which as a while have been increasing in adoption. In addition, as many people are looking to get back into the workforce and as others are having to look at themselves on a HD laptop screen for hours per day, there is a growing amount of people who are looking for skin care and health products.
As the company deploys its second fund it looks to grow its portfolio while growing its presence in North Texas. Rigel said Gore Range eventually hopes to deploy Fund III and beyond, potentially expanding its reach within the skin health industry.
“Fund I we focused on getting some low hanging fruit opportunities. We really focused on diagnostics because we have this thesis where in order to answer the right question you have to have the right data,” Rigel said. “With Fund II, we wanted to get back to what we feel makes us special, which is our deep-domain knowledge and expertise in skin health and aging.”
Kevin Cummings, NTW Inno Staff Writer Link to Original Article: VC firm eyes skin health startups with new nine-figure fund