By Riley Kaminer
Andrew Satz is one of those founders that tends to keep his head down. While you may not see him at a networking event, you can see the fruits of his labor in the work he and his team produce.
Satz – a native South Floridian who has spent stints in New York, Madrid, and DC – is a serial entrepreneur, having launched businesses at the intersection of artificial intelligence and healthcare since 2017.
Since early 2020, Satz has been focused on EVQLV (pronounced “evolve,” with the letters representing the pattern of common amino acids that can be found in most forms of life). The startup leverages its proprietary technology to sell antibody sequences to bio and pharmaceutical companies.
“We don’t sell software,” Satz told Refresh Miami. “We use our technology to generate antibodies, and then we give clients the sequences to try.”
Satz drew parallels between sequences and recipes. “If I give a baker a recipe, they’re going to know how to make it. So if I give a sequence of an antibody to a person who knows how to make antibodies, they’re going to know how to make it.” The client then tests these sequences, for which EVQLV gets paid. If the sequence works, EVQLV gets paid more.
Artificial intelligence plays a key role in EVQLV’s work. The value it brings, Satz explained, is that it derisks the process of getting an antibody to be approved by the FDA. It enables creators to understand, for example, whether the antibody will bind to its target, how the body reacts to an antibody, whether it’s safe, and whether it can be manufactured at scale.
“The key here is that we can fail in the computer, where it’s fast and inexpensive and scalable,” said Satz, who is CEO. “As opposed to failing in a lab where it’s expensive and time consuming and risky.”
For Satz, AI is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. “AI is a tool like a hammer. You don’t hire a carpenter to use a hammer; you hire a carpenter to build something.”
Acknowledging the buzz surrounding AI, Satz expanded upon an adage from Duke professor Dan Ariely. “Artificial intelligence is a lot like high school sex. Everyone’s talking about it. Everyone says they’re doing it, but no one’s actually doing it. And anyone who is doing it isn’t talking about it.”
So far, EVQLV has raised just under $3 million in pre-seed funding. They also began to raise a seed round in January, aiming to close in May. Three of the startup’s eight employees are based in South Florida, but the company is fully remote.
Is South Florida becoming a life sciences hub? Not quite yet – but maybe soon, in Satz’s estimation.
“There is a potential for a burgeoning science and biotech hub here. It’s just a matter of time. It’s going to take a while because the life science base is very conservative.” For now though, Satz acknowledged Miami’s prowess in the healthtech space, as home to major innovators such as Weston-based MAKO Surgical.
For Satz’s part though, he has had little trouble sourcing the talent required to staff his team thus far. “Miami is an attractive location,” he said.
Photo at top of post: EVQLV won the top prize, a $150,000 investment, at the Synapse Summit in Tampa in February. CEO Andrew Satz also pitched at the recent Florida Venture Capital Conference.
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