Life-Sciences VC Osagie Imasogie on Passion, Diversity, and the Need to Fail Fast

The Philly entrepreneur is on an endless quest to boost the life-sciences industry.

osagie imasogie

Osagie Imasogie in his Center City office. Photograph by Colin Lenton

Age: 58
Title: Senior managing partner
Workplace: PIPV Capital, which Imasogie co-founded
Trained as: An attorney

On passion: I have a thirst for knowledge, and I’m passionate about what makes human beings as complete as possible. We are more than just one thing at any time. My curiosity and my love for art in all of its forms, from music to movies to performance, are my passions.

On breaking into Big Pharma: I got into pharma as a lawyer first. A friend of mine had become general counsel at DuPont Pharma, and she was kind enough to ask me to join them. I did, and my first role was as general counsel for manufacturing, international business, and a new division — the generics division. As general counsel for three divisions, I had a blast. But within a short period of time, I moved to being the vice president responsible for international sales and marketing, which touched on law, consulting and business.

On what Philadelphia’s health-care scene still needs: More capital. We haven’t packed the potential of this region.

On how we do that: A bird doesn’t fly with one wing, and you don’t clap with one hand — you have to have collaboration. The city and state have a role to play on a policy level to make this area more receptive for biotech and pharma companies. They have to determine the appropriate tax policy, the appropriate carrots they can give to attract businesses.

On serial entrepreneurship: It requires persistence. It requires grit. It is not glamorous.

On misconceptions about venture capitalists: People think VCs only think about money. We do, but the way to make money is to do good. We have to deliver value. The money comes as a consequence of that.

On creating a more equitable VC playing field: We have to truly appreciate the value of diversity. It’s not a nice thing to do. It’s a smart thing to do. I like to say that what the eye is looking for, the eye will see. If you don’t orient your eyes to see value or creativity in people whose level of melanin or whose culture or language or religion or sexual orientation is different from yours, you’ll never see the value.

On failing fast: You should have the discipline and rigor to look at data in its unvarnished reality and make rational decisions. If it is not going to be successful, there’s no point in pouring water into a basket.

osagie imasogie

Photograph by Colin Lenton

On his desk: A jade dragon. It’s a gift from a business partner I had in Shanghai, China. The dragon obviously has its mouth open, but what people don’t realize is, it doesn’t have a posterior. This represents the way the Chinese view successful business — money comes in, but it doesn’t go out. This serves as a reminder of that conversation I had with my business partner.

The print version of this article incorrectly stated that Imasogie was the president responsible for international sales and marketing at DuPont Pharma. He was the vice president. 

Published as “On Failing Fast” in the December 2019 issue of Philadelphia magazine.