“KBA was a small but important investor, contributing out of proportion to its level of investment to the start of Aratana,” - Steven St. Peter
Aratana Therapeutics Inc. (Nasdaq:PETX) in-licenses compounds developed for human health and then develops and commercializes them as regulatory-approved therapeutics for companion animals. Aratana’s model allows it to move quickly, developing animal health pharmaceutical technologies at competitively lower costs to serve the unmet need of products approved to specifically manage pets’ health safely and effectively.
Boston-based MPM Capital established Aratana December 2010, locating it in Kansas City, Kan., as the venture fund’s first start-up company in the animal health space. KBA joined MPM and venture firms Avalon Ventures, San Diego, and Cultivian Ventures, Chicago, as founding investors to fund Series, A, B and C rounds. The funding gave investors and management certainty that the company would have the needed resources to fully develop its lead products to regulatory approval. Aratana completed its initial public offering in June 2013.
An internal medicine physician, Steven St. Peter has been a hybrid venture capitalist / entrepreneur for years as part of MPM Capital and now as founder, president and CEO of Aratana Therapeutics. “Having developed medical therapies for humans my insight was, why not have these therapies benefit pets? Most people consider their pets members of their family.”
St. Peter said that, at the time, no one was pursuing veterinary medicine innovations in the biotech VC community. “KBA was a small but important investor, contributing out of proportion to its level of investment to the start of Aratana,” he said. “They helped us have access to the animal health industry’s resources. Having an organization like KBA willing to invest and believe that our innovation was a good idea was an important validation and allowed me to better advocate for Aratana, recruit our initial team and get more buy in and support.”
KBA invested in MPM Capital and Cultivian Ventures in October 2009 as part of its strategy to bring additional venture funding to Kansas companies. The initial 2010 investment in Aratana Therapeutics yielded $30 million in new equity investment in Kansas. It also attracted pharmaceutical CRO and CMO company Argenta Limited to establish its first U.S. operation in Kansas to, in part, support its ongoing work with Aratana. Argenta also opened an office for its subsidiary, AlcheraBio, to support Aratana projects and to serve other regional animal health companies.