Q&A with Jim Tananbaum: CEO of Forsite Capital

Every entrepreneur has a special interest that drives his or her success. For Jim Tananbaum, it is his dedication to helping people through the healthcare industry. After graduating from Yale with a concentration in math and computer science, he furthered his education at Harvard and MIT. From a young age, he was fascinated by the possibilities that resulted when computers were integrated with healthcare. This interest was the spark that ignited his passion as an adult. One of his first major accomplishments was co-founding Geotex pharmaceuticals, a business that was acquired by Genzyme/Sanofi, the company that delivered drugs like Renvela and Cholestragel. With successful venture capitalist mentors, Tananbaum was able to mix his knowledge and drive and positively affect people’s health.

Throughout his career, Tananbaum worked hard to develop drugs and medical devices that played crucial roles in the treatment of conditions like asthma, emphysema, and GERD. Two of his most noted ventures included Amerigroup and Jazz Pharmaceuticals. One of his newest undertakings is Foresite Capital. This company remains abreast of the newest healthcare developments and focuses much concentration on topics like gene sequencing and synthetic biology. Currently, it is awaiting the introduction of Intarcia, a device that will change the way diabetes is treated.

Although Jim’s drive to help others has taken him to the top of the industry, he continues to expand on the idea that healthcare must be improved by a mixture of biotechnology and improved scientific techniques. He continues to invest in companies that share his vision, which means that even greater things may be on the horizon for mankind. Here are a few insights from Tananbaum concerning his work as an unstoppable entrepreneur.

How did you come up with the concept behind Foresite Capital?

At the point of Foresite, I had over 25 years of experience in the healthcare and investment industries. I truly understood the connection between science and innovation. In my opinion, Foresite is the epitome of the future of healthcare. Our company recognizes that unique products and medical solutions require extensive time, capital, and knowledge. We supply these ingredients in hopes of gaining successful results. To date, Foresite has teamed with 77 companies that have made exceptional advancements within the healthcare industry.

What is one trend that is making you excited?

Since I thrive on learning about the newest innovations in healthcare, a trend that has me very excited is gene sequencing. I truly believe that in a few years, everyone will be having their tissue, blood, or saliva examined so that many diseases can be prevented and treated more easily.

What is a positive habit that makes you productive?

I have always loved the academic side of learning. Uncovering new things is what keeps me moving forward. I am always trying to find the best and most effective solutions that science offers to the healthcare industry. I am committed and passionate about delivering the answers to the public so that they can live healthier lives. Knowing that I am learning and making a difference keeps me productive.

If you could turn back time, is there anything that you would do differently?

In hindsight, I wish I would have placed more belief in myself. I always tried to find what others were thinking before I made a decision. Instead of sticking by my beliefs, I compromised my opinions so that everyone would be happy. For instance, in 2000, I had an idea that a large dedicated healthcare fund would be competitive across both the public and private sectors. However, many individuals told me that it would never work, so I bent. Today, I realize that the best business models do not always stand within the norms. If I had to do things differently, I would have created business plans that relied totally on what seemed best for business growth. Convention is the key to success.

What is one thing that you would recommend to other entrepreneurs?

Do not be afraid to take risks. I’m not condoning blatant disregard of your money. I always take the time to examine a situation before I invest or pursue an idea. However, it is important to be willing to overcome the fear of loss.

What is one of your most successful business strategies?

I never think in the present. I always look forward and follow the trends. In my business, it is essential to follow the healthcare market. Investing is constantly changing, and it is my job to follow it.

What was one of your failures? How did you rebound?

Back in 2009, I had numerous chances to invest in business that needed capital. Unfortunately, my partners did not have any assets available. It was a time of recession, which made it extremely difficult to raise money. Most of my attempts were often turned away. This made me even more determined to get my new business up and running. I invested everything I had in people who supported me and believed in me. My persistence helped me to develop a totally unique investment portfolio. It was done in the manner that I wanted it done.

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