First in Human Episode #14 featuring Vineet Jain

For episode 14, we connect with Vineet Jain, Co-Founder & CEO of Egnyte. Stay tuned to hear about the common misconceptions with eTMF. First In Human is a biotech-focused podcast that interviews industry leaders and investors to learn about their journey to in-human clinical trials. Presented by Vial, a tech-enabled CRO, hosted by Simon Burns, CEO & Co-Founder & guest host Co-Founder, Andrew Brackin. Episodes launch weekly on Tuesdays & Thursdays.

Andrew Brackin: [00:00:00] Hi, I’m Andrew Brackin, cofounder of Vial, a next-generation CRO built for biotech. I’m here today with Vineet Jain, the CEO Egnyte. Hi, Vineet.

Vineet Jain: Hi Andrew. How are you? 

Andrew Brackin: Why don’t you tell us what you do and tell us a bit about Egnyte?

Vineet Jain: Sure, I’m the cofounder and CEO of Egnyte. I started Egnyte, it’s almost now 15 years. Egnyte is an all-in-one content security and governance platform that focuses on providing visibility and control into the organization’s most valuable asset: their data. Today, we have 17,000 customers that trust Egnyte to reduce their IT complexity, prevent ransomware and ID theft, and boost employee productivity on any app, any cloud, any device.

 We cater to high performance and highly-regulated industries, especially life sciences. The other two verticals which are also important for us are financial services and architecture, engineering, and construction. Today we have almost 700 life science customers in the discovery, development, and clinical phases of R&D.

Egnyte as a whole is focused on the midmarket We do not chase the big blue whales or the big elephants. If they’re inbounded, we take them down. We have 120 very large accounts, Red Bull is a good example, but the focus is on the midmarket where compliance, security, collaboration, they have to be automated and simplified for IT teams, which are fairly lean, and who cannot afford large enterprise security stacks. And therefore, Egnyte for Life Sciences is geared towards early life stage companies, especially in emerging biotech.

Andrew Brackin: Super exciting. I know our team has really enjoyed getting to know the product and the platform, and I think it solves a real need. Egnyte is one of the first secure content platforms in this age of unstructured data. What common misconceptions do you hear about your industry and what you do, and how have you worked to overcome those misconceptions?

Vineet Jain: There are quite a few misconceptions, as you say. many of them view eTMF only as a final document repository where you’re submitting documents after the regulatory notification of an upcoming eTMF inspection to be sent to the sponsor. while eTMF of course is a much-needed solution, the focus has to be on better change management, improved processes, and constant training. ETMF solutions will help keep your trials safe and secure, and your PI information safe.

One of the areas that Egnyte for Life Sciences eTMF focuses on is to apply automation and AI to monitor things like misindexed documents, sensitive personal information, while also protecting against potential ransomware attacks. Now, with that more visibility into your trial status, you can more efficiently address milestones to streamline the workflows, and that is packaged into something which is very easy to deploy and very easy to consume.

Andrew Brackin: Super interesting, and that makes lot of sense to me. 

Vineet Jain: Another misconception people have is that they’re worried that adding an eTMF will slow down the process currently in place, because the teams have to now learn how to comply with the new process or system, and our take is that with Egnyte’s eTMF, we have seen clinical trial teams get their studies up faster, have quicker resolutions for questions around milestones and study completeness due to the platform’s capability, acting a long-term repository for trial documents. the other, aspect of eTMF is to provide the teams with GxP compliance, access governance, communication, and data controls for consistency.

Andrew Brackin: One of the most exciting parts of what you’re doing is, it feels like today clinical trials software is so far behind, the landscape of incredible tools in the enterprise and consumer tools that we use on a daily basis. And I’m excited about, your eTMF bringing that world-class technology to every clinical trial. Both, the governance and security, but also just a slick, easy platform that people enjoy using. Egnyte officially expanded its global footprint into India in 2021. You currently hold offices in multiple cities around the world. What are the challenges of international expansion, and where are you expanding next?

Vineet Jain: , I’m headquartered here in the heart of the beast, Silicon Valley.

Andrew Brackin: [laughs].

Vineet Jain: Mountain View, in particular, surrounded by ginormous companies, Google of course is the biggest one. Our customer base is focused primarily in North America, and in Emir. And around the UK where we have one of the offices. Today, when I look at our overall office spread, it’s translating into around six offices, besides headquarters, in Salt Lake City, Raleigh, Spokane. We have a fairly big development center in Poland, which is around 250-odd people, and lately we are making a significant effort to bring in more talent, and therefore we had to go to logically the next place, which was India.

The challenge when you’re becoming more distributed, on one hand the global presence enables us to hire the best talent, wherever that is. and therefore, we are not hampered by the lack of, expertise, and despite in the climate today where you hear about tech layoffs, you think that the hiring climate would get any better, I don’t think so. Good people are always hard [00:05:00] to find, especially in tech. It’s never been a buyer’s market.

So while we have been hiring people wherever we can, primarily, these locations. The challenge of how do you keep them together and create a sense of cohesion where the normal mode of working has become remote or some kind of hybrid. So doing a lot of effort and things like hosting regular company-wide town halls, virtual as well as in-person, annual team meets, like we are currently taking 177 employees and flying them to one central location in India, and we do that once every six months. Similarly, in Poland, we have 250-odd people, we have to do things like that.

 While there’s a relentless focus on hiring, keeping that synergy and having a commons sense of purpose and a goal alignment across these teams is absolutely critical. And as they say, there’s no free lunch, so there’s a lot of effort that me and my leadership have to put in to get the productivity out of all these investments.

Andrew Brackin: That makes a lot of sense, and, incredibly exciting. I completely agree with you on the hiring market. It feels like top-tier talent is still incredibly hard to access. We have a remote culture at Vial, and finding, especially in the world of clinical research, it’s incredibly hard to hire the best people. Technology is at the core of what we do at Vial, I know it’s at the core of what you do at Egnyte. Where do you see the most promise for technology coming into the clinical research space?

Vineet Jain: ETMF is definitely one of the key areas. It’s become the standard in clinical trials space. It’s more than just a data entry tool. In fact, 75% of emerging sponsors and CROs, contract research organizations, already have some kind of eTMF. The clinical teams are adopting an eTMF solution as a single source of truth for all the documents collects around their trials, and they also provide teams with, things like GxP compliance, access governance, communication, and data control tools.

Now traditionally, organizations have been limited by a lack of time and resource to commit to implementing an eTMF solution, and the market was geared towards serving generally big pharma, but that is starting to change. for instance, talking about Egnyte’s own eTMF offering, it is targeted towards early stage biotech companies where their resources and revenues are limited. 

We understand that companies will struggle in not having a budget to purchase these all-or-nothing expensive solutions, so now I feel that these smaller companies have a choice and a chance to compete with larger life science companies with solutions like Egnyte’s, and there are others. This enables them to spin up studies quickly with customized templates, have full visibility into their trial data, and, I would believe, reduce the likelihood of misplacing documents with compliance features.

The promise of remote access, faster startup, standardized structures, and standardized platforms, it’s a gold rush of eTMF uptake, if that’s a word I could use.

Andrew Brackin: It blows us away how much technology needs to be implemented into these workflows. ETMF and better governance and file storage will bring a lot of speed and efficiency to sponsors.

 Last question for you today is, it’s obviously an incredibly challenging market for biotech companies and for technology companies. What advice do you have for founders navigating this challenging fundraising climate?

Vineet Jain: Founders, sometimes lose sight of trying to create valuation at the cost of creating true value. That should be the big focus for no matter what you’re doing. To build a sturdy business model, maintain fiscal prudence, and at some point, of course, you have to target cashflow positivity, maybe not too early.

In today’s climate, when I look at the funding situation, indeed fundraising has taken a big hit for the tech industry at large. You’ll notice that with the big PE and VC firms, they’re holding back on fresh investments. There’s an interesting trend I’ve been discussing with some of my investor board . They are still investing in the early stages, the seed, the Series A, always at more reasonable valuation.

It’s the follow-on investments, the large investment s beyond the B, I would say typically C, D, E, which require a lot more diligence, more scrutiny, more of these structures being introduced. The time is right for founders to focus their efforts in truly developing the product, listening to customers, and keep looking at how can I expand my total available market size.

And, of course, it’s table stakes to say you have to be prudent about your barn. You have to look ,at some point, at being cashflow positive, at some point in the future. It cannot be growth at any cost model, which was the norm, as I saw, Andrew, in the past five six years. Those days are gone. I don’t think they’re coming back.

Andrew Brackin: Love your point about creating value rather than valuation. I agree with you and think that’s very smart. It’s pretty incredible to see what you’ve built over a number of years, and how you’ve built Egnyte into a world-class platform and then been able to move into industries like life sciences, and be able to apply, value this side of the world. So really interesting stuff.

Vineet Jain: Thank you. Thank you.

Andrew Brackin: Vineet, thank you so much for the time today. We’re incredibly excited about everything that you’re doing at Egnyte and the value you’re bringing to the life sciences 


Vineet Jain: Thank you, Andrew, thanks for the opportunity and the kind words. Have a great weekend.

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