They aren’t pretty or, thankfully, painful (unless you get one on your foot), but warts are a nightmare to get rid of. Freezing is painful, over-the-counter treatments require months of diligent application, and the much-praised duct-tape method doesn’t work. (I know. I’ve tried it on all three of my kids.) Dr. Reid Waldman’s company, VeraDermics Inc., offers hope for frustrated parents and children. Here, he tells writer Amy Hourigan how his revolutionary new painless pediatric wart treatment came to be, why building a startup is nothing like what you see on TV, and how he approaches fundraising to get the results he’s after.
Amy Hourigan: Thanks for talking with me, Reid. Our readers are always interested in learning how entrepreneurs are solving some of today’s biggest challenges in new ways. How did you get the idea for your revolutionary treatment for pediatric warts? I read that up to 33 percent of children and teens have them, so this will come as welcome news.
Dr. Reid Waldman: VeraDermics Inc. was founded at MIT Hacking Dermatology [a dermatology hackathon] because our founding team of dermatologists was frustrated treating warts on a daily basis and felt that a painless and kid-friendly treatment for warts was needed.
AH: I agree! This would have been a godsend when my kids were little. How is what you’ve developed different from anything else on the market?
RW: There are no FDA-approved prescription treatments for common warts. The treatments that are used, like freezing the wart with liquid nitrogen, are painful, scare children and still are not particularly effective. Over-the-counter treatments like salicylic acid, which is the active ingredient in Compound W, require daily applications for months at a time, which is too burdensome for most people.
AH: You’re a board-certified dermatologist turned dermatology innovator. What attracted you to entrepreneurship?
RW: As a physician, I have always enjoyed research. I find entrepreneurship, and drug development in particular, to be a much better version of research because the outcome is tangible.
AH: What was your company’s biggest challenge so far, and how did you overcome it?
RW: Our biggest challenge to date has been building out a robust team. Drug development is a multifaceted discipline that requires contributions from numerous people with highly specialized knowledge in areas like chemistry, manufacturing and controls (CMC); regulatory affairs; and medicinal chemistry, to name a few. One of our top priorities at all times is ensuring that we have the best partner possible for each specific job. Our network of mentors has been instrumental in helping us choose who to partner with.
AH: You recently raised a large round. Do you have tips for other entrepreneurs who are fundraising?
RW: Take every meeting! Raising money is all about building relationships, and the only way to build relationships is by talking to people. Almost all of the money that VeraDermics has raised has resulted from a warm introduction to an investor by a mentor.
AH: What’s the hardest part about being an entrepreneur?
RW: Patience and discipline. Unlike on TV, building a startup does not happen over one night or because of one pitch, even though VeraDermics was founded at a weekend pitch event. Many business activities unfold over months or even years, and it requires patience and discipline to persevere, especially when there is turbulence on your path.
AH: What’s the best part?
RW: Watching plans that you dreamed up over the previous months or years come to fruition. Even little victories can be motivating when they occur because of hard work and strategic vision.
AH: How do you avoid burnout? I see BBQ, judging by your LinkedIn profile.
RW: I love VeraDermics! While it’s trite, it’s also true that if you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. Nothing makes me happier than working toward the company’s goals.
AH: Why did you choose Connecticut?
RW: I moved to Connecticut initially for work and have stayed due to the robust ecosystem and seemingly endless opportunities here. We found Connecticut Innovations shortly after founding VeraDermics by googling funding opportunities in Connecticut. We are very appreciative to have the support of Connecticut Innovations and CI’s senior managing director of investments, Kevin Crowley. Kevin has been an exceptional resource for VeraDermics, and he serves as one of our most esteemed mentors.
AH: What’s next for the company?
RW: Our next big milestone will be filing an Investigational New Drug application, or IND, for our wart product.
AH: Good luck and thanks for your time, Reid. We’ll be looking forward to seeing your product come to market.
RW: My pleasure.