Founder Spotlight #45: Andrew Busey @ Form Bio

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Published in
9 min readMar 6


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Form Bio is a new, cutting-edge research and discovery platform for life sciences professionals in industry and academia. With the most accessible, comprehensive, and collaborative platform in the field, Form empowers scientists to efficiently and effectively harness the proliferation of data and computing power that has transformed the science of discovery. Form Bio offers end-to-end integration of the discovery process with intuitive and easy-to-use software applications, combined with an open and adaptable collaborative environment.

Andrew Busey is Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Form Bio & Chief Product Officer & Co-Founder @ Colossal Biosciences. In the past 25 years of his career, Andrew has pioneered some of the internet industry’s most important technologies — including work on Mosaic, the first web browser (now part of Microsoft Internet Explorer); creating iChat, the first web-based chat system and one of the first instant messaging applications, invented chat-with-a-customer-service-rep and more. Additionally, Andrew is an active angel investor in companies such as Aceable, Cratejoy, FlashParking, ZenBusiness, and Waterloo Water. Fun fact: He is the author of Accidental Gods, a novel about a group of scientists who simulate a universe where life develops, and Secrets of the MUD Wizards, the first book about developing multiplayer games. He has a degree in computer science from Duke University and an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Personal Spark

What prompted you to pursue a career in Life Sciences? Was there a specific moment in time or influence you can remember? What drives you to work in this space?

I don’t necessarily think about my career separated into industry categories like Life Sciences. I tend to focus more on how to combine concepts to solve problems across categories and industry domains. In the early days at Colossal, it became clear that the computational side of biology was not as advanced as I expected. I saw that as a big opportunity. Part of my job at Colossal is identifying opportunities to advance technology in ways that move the de-extinction objectives forward while creating additional business opportunities. I’m driven to find a better path and system for empowering biologists to do computational work. It jumped out to me as a huge opportunity pretty early in the process.

How did you get your training to be able to build your company?

I have a degree in computer science, but that wasn’t my only source of training. I’ve always been an extremely curious person and a lifelong learner, which has helped me think in a very cross-functional way to envision and build new systems that combine ideas and other elements from multiple disciplines.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background & career thus far? What were you doing before you started running a high potential venture backed startup?

Leading a startup is almost all I have ever done –I started my first company at 16. I’ve had a few product management roles, including product manager of the Mosaic browser, that helped shape my thinking.

Company Overview

What problem is your company solving?

The key problem we’re solving at Form Bio is eliminating the need for life scientists to become data scientists. In doing so, we’re also starting to solve subsequent problems associated with all of the time, effort and capital it takes to bring new therapies to market.

How did you become motivated to tackle this particular problem?

Form helps the scientific community in several ways. At an industry level, biotech and pharma companies are constantly looking for more efficient ways to develop therapies and drugs. We help these kinds of companies by making computational work easier and more accessible to their scientist teams, which helps them reach their breakthroughs in less time and with less effort. In academia, researchers and students are increasingly expected to perform rigorous analysis on extensive and complex datasets. With access to a solution like Form, academic users can save countless hours on the data science elements of their research. Our PhD team members frequently remark about how they could have reduced the time it took them to complete their dissertations by months or years.

Quite simply, what does your company do?

Form Bio is a groundbreaking computational life sciences platform that empowers scientists to accelerate their most important discoveries.

Now in more depth, what are the specifics of what your company does?

Form Bio provides a comprehensive platform that unites the most important functional components of doing computational life science work. This includes Data Management, Workflows, Visualization, and Collaboration. Instead of searching and testing point solutions for each use case, scientists can leverage a unified suite of capabilities all in one platform.

The platform is distinguished by its remarkably easy-to-use interface, coupled with the expertise of Form’s world-class bioinformatics and data science teams.

We then layer advanced AI solutions on top of the platform — solutions that are aimed at tackling specific problems faced by biopharma companies and academic researchers.

Altogether our platform and tailored solutions, along with our team’s expertise, are proving to have a high impact for biopharma companies and others who are racing to cure diseases and save lives.

Why does your solution matter for the world when you get it right?

The life sciences landscape, which encompasses multiple industries, has been experiencing an explosion of data. And that data holds massive potential for endless scientific discoveries and breakthroughs. But across the industry, the data deluge has overwhelmed the skills and the tool sets that are available, accessible, and practical for most scientists today. We see a tremendous market opportunity to help equip scientists with modern, well-supported, packaged software that can handle massive datasets and integrate and simplify the computational work that’s often difficult or time-consuming. We refer to this opportunity as bridging the gap between data and discovery.


Tell us about the founding of your company — how did you meet your co-founder and how did everything come together?

The software was initially conceived as a solution to the computational needs of Colossal’s de-extinction science teams. In developing the technology, it quickly became apparent that there was a large but addressable set of similar problems across different life sciences contexts, including drug discovery, advanced biologics, cell and gene therapy development, and more. Co-founding Form with my co-CEO Kent Wakeford was quite natural since we were both also co-founders of Colossal.

Was there a specific moment when you knew you should pursue this as a business idea? If so, what was it?

We saw that the advancements we were making not only helped Harvard and Colossal with what they were doing. It also had much broader applicability to anyone working within synthetic biology or beyond, including anything from medicines, biomaterials, biofuels, and food alternatives. As we saw the usage and growing benefits, we decided to spin out and have a dedicated team to build Form Bio. It can serve a much broader and different audience than what Colossal is doing with the loss of biodiversity and species extinction.


What are some of the notable milestones your company has achieved thus far?

  • JAZZ Venture Partners led our $30 million Series A round, with participation from Colossal’s lead investor Thomas Tull, founder and former chairman and CEO of Legendary Entertainment; and another investor in Colossal, Builders VC.
  • Talks started a week after the company spun out of Colossal on July 5. Form Bio needed just three months to close on its financing. There were several investors in Colossal who had been watching the progress on our software from the early days. Jazz and Builders VC have been following our progress and believe that what is being built at Form could have a meaningful impact on advancing science. As soon as we spun out, we immediately had conversations with them. Based on those conversations, they decided to lead the round, which was fantastic. They’ve been just exceptional partners for us.
  • Already, Form Bio is used by the organizations listed on our website. And there are several others engaged in pilot programs. Specifically, Colossal used the Form platform to identify genetic variation in several elephant specimens. Using this information, they have identified the genomic differences between those elephants and over 50 mammoths. By identifying mammoth-specific alterations, the Colossal team can further understand genetic changes contributing to the trait differences between mammoths and elephants, such as hair development, appendage size, and cranium shape. Using the Form platform, they have designed CRISPR sgRNAs, allowing scientists to alter the elephant genome to make specific genes more “mammoth-like”. Colossal has also used the Form platform to determine transcriptional gene profiles of different animal species in stem cells to identify generalized animal signatures.
  • We’ve been helping a number of cell and gene therapy companies apply AI to solve very expensive and time consuming problems that frequently hold back development of their therapeutics.

What are some of the biggest hurdles ahead? How do these create points of value inflection?

Our next major milestones include:

  • Working with our first generation of lighthouse clients and early users to achieve their intended scientific outcomes and streamline their process to get there. A list of our clients is available on the website for your reference.
  • We are rounding out our team for this stage in the company’s lifecycle. We are starting with about 40, but we anticipate 70 employees by the end of next year. Most of those new employees will be based in Austin, TX. A big focus of our hiring will be on machine learning and product development, specifically around the innovative, cutting-edge tools we’re creating.

Pay It Forward

For folks coming out of academia, what advice would you share?

Academia borders on extreme specialization. Unless you are turning your dissertation into a product, (ie: a specific therapeutic) I recommend expanding your horizons and thinking about how to fuse your specific expertise with the expertise of others to build a great company. This can be hard and somewhat counters the way academics are trained. Collaboration in the start-up world is different than collaboration in the academic world.

Not everyone knows everything. Often founders have to learn either the science or the business side better. What advice would you give for someone picking up a new skill set such as this?

The fastest way to learn something is to do it, but that isn’t always practical. The cheat code in a start-up (especially on the science/specialized side) is to hire a product advisor/educator, ask them questions, and keep drilling down on the logistics until you fully understand. This will get you knowledge much faster than classes or degrees.

Can you demystify the process of what it was like to raise VC funding? What were the highlights & low lights? Any advice or words of wisdom for future founders?

Storytelling is critical — the trick is balancing action and opportunity. Clearly articulating a course of action at that time and then executing it in a way that leads to a tremendous opportunity can be challenging. It’s hard to talk about the forest, the trees, and a specific path, all at the same time. However, that is how you get people excited about the opportunity and help them see how you and your team can achieve it.

What advice for managing and hiring a great team can you share?

Apply the same storytelling to articulate your vision and how you plan to achieve it, but present opportunities for the people you are recruiting to see how they can fit into that vision. Try to understand what people want to work on and ensure they get to work on it — people will perform 10x better working on things that excite them.

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Alix Ventures, by way of BIOS Community, is providing this content for general information purposes only. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by Alix Ventures, BIOS Community, or its affiliates. The views expressed by guests are their own and their appearance on the program does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. Views and opinions expressed by Alix Ventures employees are those of the employees and do not necessarily reflect the view of Alix Ventures, BIOS Community, affiliates, and content sponsors.

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