555: Two Worlds, One Career | Mike Kaseta, CFO, Aerami Therapeutics

Listen to the Episode Below (00:34:28)

Few megadeals within the past decade have received as many recurring kudos as the acquisition of Genzyme, of Cambridge, MA by France’s biggest pharmaceutical company, Sanofi.

The marriage of Sanofi and Genzyme appears to have exceeded expectations, allowing all of those involved in minting the newly merged entity to rightfully keep a feather in their postmerger caps. Thus it was for Mike Kaseta, who in the wake of the merger found himself tasked with integrating the finance and IT functions of the two companies.

“It’s probably the achievement that I’m most proud of in my career,” explains Kaseta, who, after nearly a decade climbing the finance ranks inside Sanofi, exited the giant pharmaceutical company to stake a claim inside the realm of early-stage biotech, where today he is CFO of Aerami Therapeutics.

Looking back, Kaseta believes that the greatest lessons he gleaned from the Sanofi–Genzyme merger were people-related: “There was no iron fist. We listened to employees. We understood. In the end, we had no control deficiencies, no comments from our external auditors, and the integration occurred in a timely manner.”

Looking forward, Kaseta says that raising money now tops his list of CFO priorities at Aerami. “We have to get our story out,” he adds. “We have to get it out to the right people and really engage with investors, allowing them to get as excited about our story as we are.” –Jack Sweeney

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Guest: Mike Kaseta

Company: Aerami Therapeutics

Headquarters: Durham, N.C

Connect: www.aerami.com

CFOTL: Among Aerami’s offerings is a device or inhaler that might offer value to other biotech companies – will partnerships be part of the greater strategy going forward?

Kaseta: We really look at ourselves as a development company, not a device company. We’d really look at an opportunity to look at compounds that could be novel new compounds or existing compounds that we feel would have a better method of action through an inhalation process. We are talking to potential strategic partners all the time about their portfolio, about potential compounds that we could partner with them on to use through our device. The flexibility of our company and the optionality of our company is something that we’re really excited about. As we expand our portfolio and expand our pipeline, we really feel that the sky’s the limit. There are a lot of therapeutic areas and a lot of disease states out there that have unmet needs in respiratory and cardiovascular and in metabolic disorders that we feel could really benefit from our device.

We’re excited for the future. We feel that the capital that we raise and that we invest is most beneficial to our shareholders when it’s invested in our science and development programs. We’ve remained very lean, so when we talk about how we engage investors and kind of go through things day to day, it’s really a discussion with me, the CEO, and our chief development officer, who’s really responsible for the overall development of our portfolio. We spend a lot of time together. We also spend a lot of time together with both current and potential investors, along with analysts. As we try to get the story of Aerami out there, we have very ambitious plans to develop multiple therapies. That requires capital, so for me success is going to be measured by our ability to raise capital.