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Alex Waldron, Global Biopharmaceutical Business Leader and Yale Ventures EIR


Alex Waldron, Global Biopharmaceutical Business Leader and Yale Ventures EIR

Alex Waldron is an executive global biopharmaceutical business leader with extensive experience in large pharmaceutical, fully integrated biopharmaceutical, digital healthcare, venture capital and startup organizations. Alex is a Yale Ventures EIR, serving as an expert mentor for Yale faculty entrepreneurs and participating in Venture Lab, a Yale Ventures program designed to support faculty founders. He has served as the lead EIR for several digital healthcare-focused Venture Lab workshops, including XRPeds (Faculty PI: Kim Hieftje and Asher Marks), C8 Sciences (Faculty PI: Bruce Wexler), and Ensight AI (Faculty PI: Rohan Khera and Harlan Krumholz).

Tell us about your career in healthcare.

My career in healthcare began after graduating from BU with majors in International Business and Economics and Political Science with sales jobs in consumer divisions of both, Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) and Pfizer. My job of selling consumer healthcare products (Nuprin, Excedrin, Bengay and others) throughout New England sparked an entrepreneurial buzz within me to understand why people choose various products and how these products clinically affected them. Early in my career it became clear to me I was far more interested in what makes things work and how that drives outcomes and clinical decisions.

This drive landed me one day in a fairly in-depth conversation with a pharmacist at an Osco (I’m dating myself) in Sommerville debating the benefits and safety profile of chrysanthemum derived pediculicide shampoos vs chemically derived ones – we both had very itchy scalps that day. At the conclusion of the discussion, he revealed he was the head of the pharmacy program at Tufts and asked if I’d be willing to speak with his class. Once I’d cleared the significant hurdles at BMS to speak with his class – a very uncommon event for an over-the-counter consumer healthcare sales person – it was clear to me that my future lay in pharmaceuticals and new ways to treat diseases.

Fast-forwarding through my career, this entrepreneurial drive to constantly evolve therapeutic options for people in need of care was a consistent theme. In the early 90s I crossed over to the early days of biologics and worked with Genzyme to bring enzyme replacement therapy to people with Gaucher’s Disease across the globe. I continued my journey in biopharmaceuticals at Biogen in the late 1990’s in multiple commercial and portfolio positions expanding the reach and availability of AVONEX for Multiple Sclerosis and driving global expansion for its pipeline. After Biogen, I lead commercial and operations at a start-up biosimilar company with the mission of leveraging global biosimilars launches in preparation for increased access in the US and EU.

In 2017 I had the opportunity to make another leap in the world of healthcare. With the advancement of software, access, and adoption of technology via smartphones, and the way diseases were treated and managed outside of a doctor’s office, I joined Pear Therapeutics to help pioneer the ability to clinically treat diseases with FDA-cleared prescription software.

My most recent company has been Wellinks in New Haven where I was fortunate enough to serve as CEO. Long story short, I lead the company’s transformation from a consumer nebulizer business to a full-stack digital health and services company providing comprehensive management for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

And now as an EIR for Yale Ventures, it's fun to be part of this evolution, because there's great work coming out of Yale and there can be great companies and great products to come with that too.

I’ve done a fair amount in the industry; from sales positions, leading commercialization endeavors, introducing biosimilars, and driving the intersection of technology and healthcare, but what’s been my driving force is uncovering the nuts and bolts of what makes something work and the mechanisms we can employ to improve establish new treatment options to improve patients care.

You touched on how you're fascinated by how things work. Was that the main impetus for you to enter the industry? Or were there other leading factors when it came to entering Bristol Myers and the science fields?

It was a combination of several things. A genuine interest in how things worked, why they worked, where the market was going, and what I could do to be relevant in the world today. My curiosity in terms of why my undergraduate degrees sort of spurred me:  I realized the changing world was impacting distribution channels, communication, and healthcare itself. I wanted to anticipate global next steps and healthcare appeared as an industry with enormous potential in regards to evolving not only in the US, but around the world, and being able to address these bigger issues that are out there. It's been a fun road.

In the highly competitive pharmaceutical industry, how do companies with similarities differentiate themselves to gain a competitive edge?

Being competitive today requires the discipline of not only understanding how the market operates today, but how the market, and consumers, are likely to operate in the future. The world has become small with instant access to information, and increasingly smaller cycle times with optimization and improved technology. Pharma, and all of healthcare, needs to appreciate that business models are evolving faster than they ever have before – consider the impact and availability of real-time, longitudinal data on patients and the use of AI/ML to improve clinical trials and generate personalized therapeutics or programs for patients. Those companies able to incorporate all aspects of drug development and technology to establish where the market needs to go will have the competitive advantage.

What have you learned that has been the most impactful since you’ve become a CEO?

The most impactful aspect is to find the right people that understand the product and can help you creatively manage the evolution of where you want the market to go, working cross-functionally on an enterprise level. One of the greatest things that I have found working in small companies is the ability to actually get management teams to manage a company and not manage the function.

Do you have a favorite book or resource that has inspired you in your work (or something you find yourself sharing/recommended for other entrepreneurs).

I’m a huge fan of historical fiction. History is one of those things that’s usually poorly documented and always documented by the victor with little credit to ingenuity. Many times, in history, people have been caught off guard and challenged by a situation they never would have expected. No analogue, no way to prepare. I find those stories of perseverance where individuals had to lead with a solution the most fascinating and relevant for fellow entrepreneurs building sectors/businesses in ‘white space’. Management teams need to accept and embrace that failure is a natural part of building something nascent.

Favorite hobbies?

Music. I was a nightclub DJ in boston. I didn’t grow up in this country, I grew up in Bermuda, a British colony, hence my wiring was much less rock'n'roll and much more like the Clash and Duran Duran. I was one of those DJs bringing that wave into Boston. I love tennis. I love skiing. I have three daughters so that becomes a hobby in and of itself at the end of the day.

What advice would you give to entrepreneurs or those curious about entrepreneurship?

My advice to entrepreneurs is to focus on understanding market trends and anticipating where it's heading. No one can predict the future with certainty. But what we can do is develop the ability to identify leading indicators and evolving market needs. Don't solely rely on gut instincts, but rather seek out relevant information and insights. Don't become too attached to your current idea or venture. Instead, constantly assess its relevance and adaptability to the market. If it doesn't align well, be open to exploring new opportunities and finding alternative ways to meet evolving customer behaviors and needs. Lead with an answer and never fear failure – learn from it and adapt.

This interview was written and compiled by Asher Barondes YC ’26, a Yale Ventures summer associate.