How Remix Constructed A Science-Pushed And Clear Tradition

By Peter Smith, co-founder and CEO, Remix Therapeutics, as a part of the From The Trenches function of LifeSciVC

One of many joys of beginning an organization is the power to pro-actively outline the early company tradition and encourage its evolution over time. After I take into consideration what tradition means and learn how to outline it, it’s shortly obvious that what I feel doesn’t matter.  What does matter is everybody within the firm embracing the identical set of guiding ideas and taking part in a job in evolving the tradition over time. Since Remix was based, I’ve had the pleasure of watching as Remix’s tradition develops, whereas sustaining our foundational dedication to openness and scientific rigor.

I used to be lucky to companion with Kevin Bitterman and Alex Harding in constructing Remix, and I leveraged their insights into firm formation extensively. I used to be much more lucky that the seed funding from Atlas Enterprise allowed me to recruit a bunch of founding scientists that I knew effectively and trusted. This preliminary group of 5 scientists had labored carefully collectively earlier than, in some instances at multiple firm, so we already knew our strengths, weaknesses (sorry, areas for growth 😊) and methods of working. However extra importantly, our previous shared experiences allowed us to shortly outline what sort of firm we needed to construct, how we needed to function and what we needed to keep away from.

The early equation was easy: Good Individuals + Nice Science = New Medicines. I knew the founding group had been good folks; I knew we may do nice science, and so it felt like the proper begin on our path to creating new medicines. We talked about our want for a tradition that was pushed by robust science and scientific choice making, full democratization and transparency in knowledge sharing, and a capability to overtly problem at any stage and keep interested by all features of our work. Importantly, no drama, no empire constructing, no hiding opinions and the basic “no arseholes” rule. Since we knew one another effectively, we in a short time outlined a scientific workplan and had been off to the races.

With the plan in place, it could have been pure for us to focus solely on scientific execution, put the blinders on and neglect about our want to construct the tradition we needed. In some ways, the COVID pandemic has been a significant factor in stopping that from occurring; it made us attempt additional laborious to remain linked and put additional effort in when onboarding new staff members. I used the phrases “Let’s overcommunicate” roughly each quarter-hour. We had been already utilizing Slack and realized communication instruments like this could be key in sustaining our connectedness and transparency. We missed stopping by every others’ desks to have a look at knowledge and speak science, missed the necessary likelihood conversations that result in new insights and concepts. Nonetheless, we discovered that Slack allowed us to stay in sync about our quickly progressing platform.

Whereas overcoming the communication challenges imposed by COVID, we additionally had to deal with modifications that face all startups as they develop. As we employed new staff members, we observed a pattern of ready till the “subsequent assembly” to share knowledge and began to marvel if we had been shedding the velocity or depth of debate. To counter this, our head of bioinformatics Mike Seiler began “Knowledge Friday” – sharing your newest knowledge on the finish of the week on slack – it could possibly be something – unpolished knowledge, uncooked knowledge, an fascinating commentary, adverse knowledge for hassle capturing, something could possibly be shared. It saved up the joy of scientific discovery and discourse and actually did assist join. Knowledge Friday lives on at Remix, however now with extra folks within the firm we even have Knowledge Monday, Knowledge Tuesday, and many others. This real-time stream of latest knowledge and concepts helps sustain our momentum for scientific discovery and creativity. Importantly, it ensures that your complete firm will get to see and talk about hot-off-the-press knowledge.

At each city corridor I discuss 4 cornerstones of Remix values and behaviors: Innovation, collaboration, scientific and private integrity. These all sound apparent and generic but it surely’s the subtext that issues and I’m going into element about what they imply. I’ve heard grumbles about this repeatedly: “we’ve all heard this earlier than!”. Nevertheless it’s key that the message is regularly bolstered to point out how necessary it’s to keep up a science-driven tradition.

Much more necessary as we develop is ensuring the tradition continues to evolve and doesn’t keep static, and so we emphasize “Tradition Add NOT Tradition Match” in our hiring course of. All firms develop and alter over time – significantly better to overtly acknowledge this and encourage the staff to embrace continued cultural change and for them to be a part of that change and drive the evolution of our tradition. For instance, we discuss sufferers with the ailments we’re aiming to influence, however it may be laborious to recollect the sufferers which are ready for our work throughout the day-to-day grind. Considered one of our new staff, Charles Kung, who has been at Agios for a few years advised Alex concerning the affected person wall at Agios and the way it impressed the corporate. We liked that concept and determined so as to add our personal digital model, a giant display TV with images of household and mates of Remix staff at our entrance that reminds us every day we’re exhibiting as much as work to assist sufferers. It has turn into an necessary a part of our tradition for brand spanking new staff so as to add images; we get to know them higher and bear in mind we’re all touched by illness indirectly and our work has REAL that means.

I continuously fear it is going to be simple for us to get lazy in sustaining and evolving our science-driven tradition; the laborious work emphasizing the significance of it wants to return from all corners of the corporate, not simply the management staff. We additionally acknowledge that Remix isn’t good and there are areas we have to enhance.  We repeatedly wish to hear about what’s working effectively and what may get higher; it’s key that we present motion after listening to the suggestions and I feel we’ve got a great monitor report of constructing modifications primarily based on enter from our broader staff.

This could really feel like laborious work, but when we make it a part of our day-to-day considering it turns into simpler to remain on prime of it and I’m satisfied that, as long as our equation stays so simple as Good Individuals + Nice Science = New Medicines, this improbable and rising staff will keep on the trail of constructing a distinction to the lives of sufferers that want new medicines.


With due to Alex Harding, Fred Vaillancourt, Anant Agrawal, Dom Reynolds, Mike Seiler and Molly von der Heydt for studying and enter; and Jesper Maag, Maria Alexis for knowledge evaluation.

Leave a Reply