Trier Bryant is not your typical general partner of a biotech investment fund.
The general partner and president of 82VS, a Venture Studio that works hand-in-hand to leverage platforms and services developed by Alloy Therapeutics, doesn’t have years of experience working with the intricacies of antibodies, T-cell receptor modalities (TCRs), and genetic medicines, which are their partner’s cornerstones. Nor is she a “trained” scientist, but that doesn’t stop her from learning the foundational science of the Alloy ecosystem.
“The team jokes that I’m working on my baby PhD,” Bryant tells me. “Oftentimes I’m sitting in meetings and I’m constantly messaging questions about what people are explaining. We are known for antibodies at Alloy, and what I’ve been able to learn from some of the best in the business is incredible.”
What Bryant does know how to do well is to take initiative. “I like to go and solve hard and interesting problems,” Bryant said. “If you can’t figure it out, give it to me! And if I don’t have all the answers, I’ll find the people who do.”
Bryant has experience in the venture ecosystem and experience in company creation, which is what Alloy founder, CEO, and chairman Errik Anderson and his board were looking for.
Bryant previously worked as the first chief people officer (CPO) at Astra, an aerospace company building low orbital rockets to launch a new generation of services to connect and improve life on earth; the VP of people and workplace experience at SigFig, a global FinTech company striving to empower everyone to achieve their financial goals with customer-centric financial solutions; and the Global Head of Revenue, G&A (Corporate Functions), University, and Diversity Recruiting at Twitter responsible for more than 70% of hires.
Most importantly, she was brought in to lead people. “Companies fail for three reasons: capital, product, and people,” said Bryant. “As a counterpart to Alloy Therapeutics, 82VS has the first two basically covered. But what they’ve needed is someone who can build high performing teams and optimize talent.”
Bryant grew up professionally in the military and has a very military perspective as a leader. “A leader takes care of their people, and their people take care of the mission,” said Bryant. “I’m fortunate enough that I have the courage and the confidence to step into roles where I don’t have the technical background or expertise, but it’s an amazing opportunity to lead and build a best-in-class team and make sure that they have what they need to get things done.”
Cures over cash
When I comment about the uniqueness of the biotech workforce, Bryant replies that all industries are—whether it’s bankers on Wall Street, software engineers in tech, pilots in the Air Force, or scientists in biotech.
What’s common to all of them is that every industry has a core group that they need to cater to—the ones that are actually doing the core work. When it comes to the scientist population, Bryant just asks and leaves space for perspectives from everyone, even those that aren’t the most outspoken.
According to Bryant, what is unique to the biotech workforce is that many people have a personal story as to why they’re here.
“To be in an environment where people are really motivated by making better medicine and solutions for patients really resonates with me on a personal level,” said Bryant. “When people care and are doing the work for something that’s bigger than themselves, it takes me back to my time in the military, and I’m just very appreciative of being a part of a mission that’s bigger than us, bigger than a dollar.”
This resonates with Bryant’s lens for diversity, equity, and inclusion as a Black woman. “We know that the maternal mortality rate for Black women is six times higher than a non-black woman in the United States. There is a lot of work to do when it comes to equity in medicine and healthcare”
And she incorporates diversity into the framework for building a team. “We have 48% women, over 60% of our team identifies as non-white, 19% identify as queer, and 43% are immigrants,” said Bryant. “We’re an incredibly diverse group, and I know that makes the team. more powerful.”
Trier shares a personal story, revealing that she was recently diagnosed with glaucoma. “It was a little shocking because I thought I was relatively young for this condition,” said Bryant. “After some research, I learned Black people over the age of 35 should start testing specifically for glaucoma every two years and because I have a family history of glaucoma, this makes me nine times more likely to have it.”
Serial biotech entrepreneurs
Bryant believes that there are some strong market indications for 82VS to begin executing their fund strategy and accelerate company creation. As company valuations have changed as well, she can do more than most people with less.
“We don’t need $40 million to launch biotech companies anymore,” said Bryant. “We don’t need to exert all that capital and that energy, so it creates this opportunity for 82VS. We can create multi-asset drug companies that are incredibly capital efficient and perform.”
Bryant is passionate about supporting scientific talent and future biotech entrepreneurs. She wants to be able to take a scientific drug maker that has the opportunity to build their first company and leverage the Alloy ecosystem to set them up for success.
“Because we’re uniquely positioned within Alloy, we’re able to do company formation and start drug discovery work with little to no capital invested. When it is time for us to write a pre-seed and seed check, we’re making those investment decisions with strong data in hand,” said Bryant. “We are able to de-risk through data, diligence, and doing the work. We bring that all into our company creation model.”
At the end of the day, it is the relationship with Alloy that shapes the model at 82VS. “The innovation in drug discovery with biologics is really exciting and this is where Alloy is very strong,” said Bryant. “All companies 82VS builds use Alloy’s platform and discovery services. It’s really an unfair advantage to have access to that capability. And we believe this will encourage our current scientific entrepreneurs to come back and build their second, third, and future companies with us.”
82VS currently has 10 companies in its portfolio, ranging from oncology to genetic medicine to TCRs. Bryant is excited about the later-stage companies because they validate the 82VS model, which she said can take anywhere from one to three years.
“We’ve got a couple of companies that have evolved quickly and have strong data for a drug asset to start raising their Series A and then graduate from the studio with that secured capital or another type of qualified financing through an acquisition,” said Bryant. “It’s validating to see two of our later-stage companies, Broadwing Bio and Aakha Biologics, receive strong investor interest considering the current market conditions.”
There’s one project that Bryant is really excited about that comes from one of their venture fellows. Every year, 82VS takes two to three fellows to increase the pipeline of underrepresented PhDs in VC biotech.
“One of the fellows pitched an idea for a women’s health company focused on endometriosis, they are coming to the investment committee for company formation later this quarter,” said Bryant. “[This fellow] came in with such conviction that the current patient care is falling short for women and is not meeting the needs of pain management or a cure for endometriosis. This highlights how we leverage data to understand what’s being underinvested, what’s being undertreated, and what’s being overlooked.”
But that doesn’t mean that Bryant only has 82VS focus on underserved indications or targets. She works diligently with the 82VS framework in order to succeed, and the bar she has set is a high-reward investment that is based on excellent science and created by an excellent team. The team has an acronym that covers those areas: FAST PILOTS.
“Finance, Alignment, Syndicate, Target, Preclinical, Indication, Legal, Operations, Team, and Sale,” Bryant rattles off. “It’s our standard diligence. Everyone knows the framework, and it enables our team to be very data-driven and to quickly assess opportunities that are going to get us across to the finish line to make great medicine. DEI will always be part of the foundation of our work which enables us to, ‘play to win’ and win big. Because of this, we’ve got a strong venture studio with 10 companies across four modalities with 20 programs going after four different disease areas.”
Bryant strikes me as a fearless executive, but she catches me by surprise when reveals one of her initial fears when she took the helm at 82VS. “If I have to start 6–10 companies every year, where am I going to find these ideas?” she said. “It turns out, there’s no shortage of good ideas. The question is, can we separate the good ideas to identify the great ones and then move those efficiently through our model? The answer is yes and we are doing it.”
When I asked Bryant what her typical day looks like at 82VS, she said, “Raise capital and then whatever my team needs. It’s different every day. Then I tell Errik [Anderson, our CEO,] what I need from him!”
By the end of the interview, it is clear that Bryant is a go-getter and a leader. It comes as no surprise when she drops that her favorite military quote comes from U.S. Army General George S. Patton, Jr: “Follow me, lead me, or get out of my way.”