In the late nineties, a company named “Advanced Medicine” came together with the 4Cs of entrepreneurship in place: a concept, co-founders, capital, and some well-placed cold-calls. Mathai Mammen was one of those co-founders, still living in a dorm at the time. The company’s investors evolved, it renamed itself, went public, and ultimately split into two independent companies: Innoviva (INVA) and Theravance Biopharma (TBPH).
Today, Mathai is the SVP of R&D at Theravance Biopharma. Under his leadership, they have always done things a little differently. In the beginning they used their seed capital to build an in-house vivarium. They have discovered all of their development candidates – 31 and counting – internally or collaboratively. And after 3 approvals, they left their royalty stream to Innoviva and struck out on their own to focus on R&D – because “it’s difficult to be innovative when you’re in the shadows.”
Mathai has had a longstanding reputation as one of the good guys in the industry, but in recent years he has doubled down. After two extraordinary family tragedies, he calls out the importance of persistence, humility, and empathy above all – both in and outside of business.