As co-founder and managing partner at Blue Goose Capital, Doug Zingale, SB ’72, seeks talent that builds life-changing biopharma and medical device ideas. His investments include Mythic Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company founded by MIT and Harvard University graduates, and ABLE, an exoskeleton company that includes robotic elements enabling severely disabled people to walk again. Another company in his portfolio is Leuko, developed through MIT’s delta v accelerator to make a device for noninvasive white blood cell detection which enables the effects of chemotherapy to be monitored and controlled. He is also a member of MIT Alumni Angels of Boston.
We asked Zingale to answer our question set about healthy routines, useful books and skills, and what makes Blue Goose Capital’s strategy unique.
What routine keeps you happy, healthy, or productive? Why?
The routines that keep me going are frequent exercise, weekly massages, and time with family. These things take me away from my internal business dialogue of problems and solutions. You can’t stay fully engaged with business all the time without having your creativity and productivity suffer.
What are your most useful sources of news and information?
CNBC and The New York Times. Between them, they cover business, finance and politics with depth and objectivity. These subjects provide an important backdrop for everything we do at Blue Goose and keep me connected to and interested in the world beyond entrepreneurship.
What is one thing you have read, watched, or listened to that informs your work today? How?
The books of Malcolm Gladwell, particularly The Tipping Point, because it provides a framework for thinking about ways to disrupt the current market leaders and to accelerate and scale your small business. Also, the book Blue Ocean Strategy, because it teaches you that reconfiguring your value proposition to provide something new can create a new market segment where you can become the leader quickly. Both provide good examples of ways to look at the world differently and to redefine the characteristics that drive market success.
How do you (or your team) keep track of new ideas?
I keep track of new ideas by engaging with as many startup companies as possible. I accomplish this by saying ‘yes’ as often as I can when incubators, universities, and research institutions ask me to mentor, teach, or judge participants in their innovation programs. The flow of new ideas is staggering, and it allows me to see early the new ideas and business models that will disrupt how business is done today.
What skill or ability has served you well in your work?
My most developed skill is negotiation — and it is a horizontal, not a vertical skill. It doesn’t depend on deep industry expertise. The ability to ask the right questions and to listen carefully to the answers enables me to create the level of knowledge that I need to develop and execute a negotiation strategy. When you combine that with the ability to think objectively about how the world looks to other parties, you can anticipate their priorities and determine how to maximize your objectives within the context of a deal that the other side can agree to.
What is the most difficult lesson you have learned in your professional life? In what unexpected way did you grow from it?
The most difficult lesson that I have learned is that some people are interested in achieving personal success at the expense of others. People who operate this way reduce the productivity of the team as a whole and weaken the camaraderie that is so essential for entrepreneurial ventures. I grew from it by learning to be aware of this tendency and to keep those people as far away from my teams, projects, and companies as possible.
At MIT Sloan, we talk about ideas made to matter — ideas that are carefully developed and have meaningful impact in the world. In that context — what is your idea made to matter?
My idea made to matter is that talent is everywhere, but risk capital and strategic partners are much more concentrated in the U.S. That is why my fund, Blue Goose Capital, has a strategy to find interesting companies offshore that can be brought to the U.S. as capital requirements grow and strategic partners become more important.
In our case, we focus on seed stage health care companies in the U.S. and Spain and obtain a commitment from every offshore portfolio company that they will move most of their senior management to the U.S. at the time that they are raising their Series A financing. The bulk of the team remains offshore to take advantage of the lower compensation costs and offshore government grants, but the financial and strategic center of the company is moved here.
This approach provides an advantage that helps to drive superior fund performance. At the same time, we invest half of our funds in domestic companies and maintain close ties with investors and strategic partners here. This engagement supports our ability to successfully transplant offshore companies to the U.S. to take full advantage of the things that make the U.S. innovation ecosystem the best in the world.