Yossi Keret is CEO of Nanorobotics, a disruptive startup in biotech, where he leads management, fundraising, financing, business development, strategic negotiations, and other company activities. In addition, he is a board member of Wize Pharma. Prior to joining Nanorobotics, Yossi worked with high-tech, biotech, and cleantech companies reorganizing and preparing them for public or private fundraising. He is the former CEO and board member of Weebit Nano, and the former global CFO of the following companies: Eric Cohen Books & Burlington English, Daimler Financial Services, Pluristem, M.L.L. Software and Computer Industries.
Yossi’s accomplishments include leading a successful IPO in the Australian Stock Exchange as part of his CEO role; leading the successful development of ReRAM (memory) from Rice University to 40 Nano working cells; taking a major part in a successful Initial Public Offering (IPO) in NASDAQ; leading private equity raising (PIPE) for public companies; possessing in-depth familiarity with accounting regulations in Israel, US GAAP and IFRS; and taking a major part in M&A discussions and implementation. Yossi is a certified public accountant (CPA). He received his B.A. in economics and accounting from Haifa University in Haifa, Israel. He lives in Israel with his wife and three children.
What’s your journey in becoming a CEO?
I come from a financial background, both in terms of my education and my career. I was the CFO of several companies in different industries. In 1996, I took a company public on NASDAQ for the first time. I am a math person, but I wanted to lead businesses, which brought me to where I am today. I was the CEO of Weebit Nano (ASX: WBT) where we developed and commercialized a technology for the next generation Reram memory. I led a successful IPO on the ASX, the Australian Stock Exchange. I was fascinated by the nanorobotics technology which, like Weebit technology, came from the same laboratory of Prof. James Tour at Rice University. It was my dream to take this technology further and in 2019, together with my colleagues, we have founded Nanorobotics and I became its CEO and Executive Director.
Tell us a bit about your business and how you are commercializing?
This is a very exciting technology. Since it is a platform, I initially had to focus on one area. Once I assembled my team, we decided to focus on molecular therapy for cancer treatment. The journey is akin to drug development, e.g. in vivo studies followed by toxicology and GLP validation. I estimate in two years we’ll conclude these studies. We’ll then start human trials. Nanorobotics has one lead program: Non-Muscle Invasive Bladder Cancer.
In addition to cancer therapy, our nanorobotics platform has other uses such as antibacterial effects against highly resistant bacteria, dermato-cosmetics, ophthalmology, and others. Once our nanorobotics platforms will gain momentum, I will look to out-licensing agreements with big pharma and medtech companies. At that point, we’ll be able to form strategic partnerships through which we’ll attain upfront fees and milestones payments. In 4-5 years, I hope to achieve full commercialization.
How are you managing with the current COVID-19 pandemic on both business and personal front?
Our in vivo research is being conducted in Texas, U.S., a state that has been largely affected by the pandemic. Many labs and institutions shut down, and only now are reopening again. I sincerely hope that this shutdown will not significantly impact our R&D plans, and we can reach our milestones soon. Moreover, there are several travel restrictions that have hampered our ability to meet with investors for fund raising. We, similar to others, have moved to Zoom investor meetings and we hope to continue our successful seed fund raising.
Spending less time on the air and more time on the ground, I find that I’m having a great time with my family – my wife, three kids, and two dogs.
What’s the most exciting thing about running your business?
I lost my sister to cancer at a young age. It’s deeply meaningful for me to work in this field, to be at the forefront of this medical revolution. It moves me personally that our technology may be able to bring remedy to cancer patients, targeting only the cancerous tissues without damaging the rest of their bodies, giving them a second chance at life.
I am also excited to work with a great team – they all have scientific or medical backgrounds and I enjoy interacting with them on a daily basis. We are all visionaries who think and see the next thing. That’s what drives us today, and I hope it will continue to drive us all the way to a successful tomorrow.
How do you measure success?
I’m a very organized and KPI-driven person, even on a daily basis. I lock my gaze on my target and determine my success through measurable outcomes. Our mission at the end of the day is to bring safe and effective drugs to the market, bringing hope to countless patients, some with poor prognosis. And this, I hope, will translate to maximum return on investment for my shareholders.
What do you think is the most important quality of being a CEO of a listed company?
Seeing the big picture, keeping an immense vision in sight, and not miss the forest for the trees. Executing great corporate culture in which trust and integrity are key elements. Another quality is the ability to communicate the progress to shareholders, particularly at a public company. Sometimes, progress in biotech firms is slow paced and not all the pieces of the puzzle are in place. I see myself as someone who needs to overcome this gap and make the necessary effort to sustain momentum.
What is your favorite book?
Think and Grow Rich is my favorite book of all time. It asks, “what makes a winner?” and offers a “Law of Success” philosophy that has shaped my business and world view. I’ve tested and demonstrated the soundness of this formula many times, at every company I worked for. Suffice it to say I’ve always managed to keep my investors and shareholders happy.
What about yur favorite movie or TV show?
I also like to go to movie theaters, but they have now been shut down since early March and we don’t know when they will reopen. So instead, I am now watching a great TV series called “The Rain.” It is about a virus that wipes out almost everyone in Scandinavia. The show’s two protagonists search for a safe place as well as a cure. It’s a good watch as it relates to our current-day situation as well as medical advances.
What message do you want to send to our readership in Asia?
Nanorobotics is developing a technology that will reshape medical treatment. I believe it has the potential to revolutionize the field of molecular therapy. As we are now a global village, my hope is that in a post-COVID-19 world, all nations and groups will work closer together and cooperate more.
How can people connect with you?
Yossi Keret, LinkedIn