We are near the end of our discussion with CFO Svai Sanford when he permits us to unlock one last door to his past.
Unbeknownst to us, 20 minutes earlier, Sanford had handed us the key to its lock in the form of a short story.
The story had begun with Sanford receiving a job offer, to which he had replied, “Are you sure? I do not have any experience in this sector.”
His future boss had replied: “You will figure it out.”Read More
At first, we were left wondering whether there had been something more that the future boss had known about Sanford—perhaps a piece of contributing evidence that had made him feel confident that Sanford could acclimate and succeed.
“There’s something in me that has always allowed me to figure things out,” Sanford had confided.
Sanford’s choice of words—“something in me”—had been interesting. Certainly, there is no shortage of problem-solving exercises along any CFO’s path, but he had already told us that his career track had likely been different from that of other CFOs—and we had sensed that the “something” to which he had been referring had not yet been disclosed to us.
Still, as Sanford had helped us to check off the requisite CFO career milestones via his engaging and modest narrative, we eventually had heard about his arrival in the C-suite—which for a moment had led us to consider how Sanford’s success story is not remarkably different from that of other CFOs.
However, that’s exactly why it’s so remarkable, or so we later realize.
As we enter the final minutes of our discussion, we learn that Sanford had arrived in the United States as a 13-year-old refugee from Laos, who with only a 3rd-grade education had entered a Kansas City high school while not yet speaking a word of English.
How does someone enter the C-suite some 20 years later after having surmounted such adverse circumstances?
Here’s where we discover the key that Sanford gave us.
We think of the 13-year-old Sanford and hear the words of his future boss, “You will figure it out.” –Jack Sweeney
“Know your company’s business well and plan ahead as much as possible—but don’t overly stress yourself. When it comes to whatever tasks are at hand, trust your instincts and draw from your years of experience and training.” –Svai Sanford, CFO, Rani Therapeutics
Made Possible By
CFOTL: Tell us about Rani Therapeutics … what does this company do, and what are its offerings today?
Sanford: I think that Rani is about as unique as my career thus far. Rani Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biotech company that has developed a very novel disruptive technology platform called the RaniPill. The RaniPill is capable of delivering, in an oral capsule, any biologic drugs, including proteins, peptides, and antibodies. This is not your ordinary pill. It is essentially a robotic auto-injector. It’s the size of a triple-zero capsule, to use the technical term—essentially, it’s like a large vitamin pill or a fish oil–size pill. It has a special enteric coating that protects it from the acidic environment of the stomach. It won’t dissolve while just sitting there for hours, but when it travels into the small intestine, it encounters a higher pH level. This causes the enteric coating and the outer shell to dissolve, exposing the delivery mechanism to the intestinal fluid.Read More
The mechanism itself then has a self-inflating balloon that contains two reactants separated by a dissolvable valve. The two reactants are the same as the chemicals in Alka-Seltzer. When you drop an Alka-Seltzer into water, it fizzles, it makes bubbles, it creates gas. Exposure of these reactants to the intestinal fluid creates the same gas, which dissolves the valve, which allows the two reactants to mix, which creates carbon dioxide. This gas then inflates the balloon, which creates enough pressure to inject the dissolvable needle into the intestinal wall. The injection is pain-free, if only because our intestinal wall has no sharp pain receptors. The balloon then deflates and is passed out safely. In the case of drug delivery, the needle dissolves and the drug is quickly absorbed.
We have thus far tested 14 drug molecules in preclinical studies and completed two Phase 1 studies. This thing works. It’s a very unique, crazy idea, right? But it does work. We have delivered almost 7,000 capsules in animal studies and almost 200 capsules in the human ones. Approximately 100 human subjects have taken the RaniPill, including in a 7-day repeated dosing study that we did late last year. Drug absorption with the RaniPill is on a par with that from a Sub-Q—and in some cases is even better.
The challenge in this industry has always been that you could not deliver biologics through a capsule or pill because our stomach is made to defend against anything that comes into our body so that we don’t get infected. Enzymes would always break down a traditional, chemistry-based pill before it could get absorbed. The RaniPill is essentially an injection, but an injection into a very unique area of our body via a very unique method, which is why we can get a drug onboard.
Rani | www.ranitherapeutics.com | San Jose, CA