Maximizing Your JP Morgan Healthcare Conference

The JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, or “JPM”, is the healthcare conference of the year. Companies from all over the world convene in San Francisco to setup meetings with investors, prospective partners, service providers, etc. and lay the groundwork for much of the year to come. The week is full of media attention and never fails to have major deal announcements to fill the streets with buzz.

To help you and your company maximize what you want to get out of JPM and to navigate the options available to you, Locust Walk has put together our guide to this year’s conference, January 8-11. Locust Walk works closely with companies of all stages to prepare materials, strategy, and outreach for JPM as part of a broader financing or strategic process. If we can provide direct assistance with your efforts, please feel free to connect with us directly:

What is your objective?

JPM is a valuable opportunity to get in front of nearly any company that may be a viable partner. Unlike many partnering or investor conferences, there isn’t a defined schedule to constrain the length or format of your meetings. To get the most out of JPM, you should be mindful of what your objectives are and appropriately setup meetings to accomplish this.

  • Partnering Process (Early Stages of Discussion): If you’ve recently kicked off a partnering process, you are likely having your first face-to-face interactions with a prospective partner at JPM. These meetings are typically 30 minutes in length and provide the opportunity to have an introductory discussion. This is your first impression. We recommend providing hard copies of the deck to every meeting attended as companies like to write notes and questions directly on the presentation.
  • Partnering/M&A Process (Late Stages of Discussion): If you have an established process ongoing, JPM is a valuable opportunity to meet face-to-face with active prospective partners to discuss key issues and questions in order to move the process forward. The weeks following JPM can often present a bit of a lull in the process as companies digest information from the week, so maximizing the utility of a late-stage discussion is critical. Communicate clearly with companies you are meeting prior to the conference to understand what issues need to be discussed and come prepared with materials directed at these questions. At the conclusion of the meeting, you should discuss next steps and the process moving forward.
  • Private Financing Process: Nearly every major institutional, venture, debt, hedge fund/PE, family office, etc. investor is present at JPM. Getting time on an investors calendar at JPM can be tough; you are competing against other companies looking for funds, existing portfolio companies, board meeting obligations, etc. If you’re unable to secure an investor meeting, it is not the end of the world. We often recommend using JPM as a time to meet with strategic companies and then scheduling an investor roadshow after JPM. That said, if your primary objective is financing, you should be flexible and prioritize time with investors. Your time is likely to be limited to 30 minutes with up to an hour provided in some circumstances if you are having a later stage discussion. You should have a well-crafted investor deck and provide email follow-up with a digital copy of the presentation as investors tend not to like lugging around 30+ decks all week. Following JPM, follow-up with investors can be fairly sporadic as they digest the flow of new opportunities coming out of the conference and internally evaluate which prospects they would like to pursue further.
  • Public Financing Process: JPM is well attended not only by investors, but also investment banks and advisors who can help navigate the IPO process. Whether you are setting up initial discussions with banks to form a syndicate, presenting to a bank’s equity research analyst for vetting, or gaining investor support in conjunction with an IPO, JPM is a valuable time to jump start or accelerate an IPO, PIPE, or other public offering process.
  • Relationship Building: Regardless of whether you are actively conducting a partnering or financing process, JPM is a useful time to begin establishing relationships with investors or companies. You should anticipate your future needs and strategic objectives and setup short, introductory discussions with various investors/companies so you can leverage this in the future when you are ready to initiate a process more formally. Such meetings are great to schedule in more casual environments like a café and should take 15-20 minutes. We recommend a high-level discussion, not presenting from a deck, and clearly stating the objective of building a relationship. If anything, provide a one-pager as a takeaway and follow-up with a high-level deck if there is sufficient interest or if it is requested.

When to Reach Out?

Schedules fill up quickly for JPM and it is important to reach out early to make sure you can get a meeting slot, especially with larger biopharma companies or investors. With the holidays thrown into the mix, we recommend reaching out to companies and investors in early to mid-November, prior to Thanksgiving. While there is still quite a bit of scheduling going on in early December, schedules are more or less finalized going into the December holiday.

If you are unable to secure time with key companies or investors on your list, schedule time in the weeks following the conference. Prioritize companies and/or investors that are geographically difficult to meet with outside of the conference. Try and schedule as much as you can during the first half of the conference, Monday and Tuesday. By Wednesday, and especially Thursday, the literal and figurative hangover from many days of meetings and events starts to take its toll.

What to Prepare?

The materials you prepare for JPM meetings depend entirely on the nature of your discussion. You likely have an array of meeting types, some with investors, some introductory 30-minute discussions, some longer hour-long discussions, and perhaps some confidential discussions. You should have material prepared for each of these different discussions. We recommend having the following materials prepared for JPM:

  • One pager: a single page (front and back) overview that condenses the information from the high-level overview. Be mindful of the aesthetic of the document and break up text with graphical data and other key messaging points.
  • High-level non-confidential overview deck: Usually 10-20 slides that can be presented in ~20 minutes. Deck should provide a high-level overview of the company, its program, supportive data, and objectives.
  • Non-confidential overview deck: Usually 20-35 slides that can be presented in ~45 minutes. The deck should provide a more comprehensive overview of the company, the target indication and rationale/unmet need, overview of the asset/program, clinical data, development plan and partnering objective.
  • Confidential deck: Usually 30-50 slides that can be presented in under 75 minutes. Similar to the non-confidential deck, the confidential deck provides a thorough overview of key material related to the program. Typically, you have reviewed the non-confidential deck before this point, so craft the deck around areas of key questions raised by partners. The confidential deck will often include detailed information about the MOA, regulatory discussions, IP information, expanded clinical data, trial design and development costs, commercial information and financial projections. You should carefully determine what you are willing to share on a confidential vs. non-confidential basis.
  • Investor deck: The investor deck is similar to the non-confidential overview deck and should be 20-30 slides that can be presented in ~45 minutes. If you have less time with an investor, you should consider which slides to gloss over, but we’d recommend providing the full deck to investors vs. an abbreviated version. Unlike a presentation to a partner, the deck should be structured at a higher level and not emphasize too much clinical detail. You may also want to add information specifically around the commercial potential of the asset, cost and development timelines, value inflection points, management team and BoD, and the target fundraise and use of proceeds.

Regardless of who you meet with, your email follow-up after the conference should always include a copy of the non-confidential or confidential presentation. We recommend following up the week after the conference, preferably on Tuesday or Wednesday, to avoid getting lost in the melee of information flow during the conference week.

Lunch/Dinner Meetings

Eating a JPM can be a challenge. The day usually starts early and runs straight into evening events, leaving little time to keep yourself fueled and alert for each meeting. Scheduling time to eat is important and can often be a way to incorporate your meeting schedule in a meaningful way.

Lunch meetings are a great and casual way to meet with a company. You will typically want to schedule lunch with a company that won’t require a presentation as you will not have access to a screen, and flipping through a deck while try to fork a Caesar salad is not an easy task. We typically recommend reserving lunch meetings for companies you have an established relationship with where there are a few key topics or questions that should be addressed. These companies have typically started their due diligence efforts and are familiar with the story and background. Use lunch meetings to get to know the company better and build relationships with the key stakeholders who will advocate for you in the process.

There is an array of different types of dinners at JPM. Each night there are numerous, invite only, group dinners hosted by different companies or service providers. If you are in advanced discussions with a partner, you may schedule your own dinner event to bring the teams together to build a stronger relationship. You may also want to schedule a smaller dinner with a partner, similar to a lunch meeting, to discuss the process and any questions they may have.

In general, dinner meetings take on a more formal tone than lunch meetings and should be reserved for companies that have a high degree of expressed interest, or are high on your priority list to develop a relationship with. Less so than lunch meetings, dinner meetings wind up placing more emphasis on relationship building … the inclusion of wine doesn’t hurt.


The JP Morgan Healthcare Conference has become synonymous with a week full of offshoot conferences, meetings, and other activities all focused on the healthcare/life science industry. Attending the actual JP Morgan conference itself is unusual for most companies and is an invite only event. The vast majority of people attend the week for many other purposes.

  • JP Morgan Healthcare Conference (Westin St. Francis): the namesake of the JPM week, the actual JP Morgan conference is an invite only event featuring marquee companies and clients of JP Morgan. While attending the JP Morgan event provides access to incredible keynote speeches, your partnering and financing objectives are easily accomplished without an invitiation.
  • Biotech Showcase (Hilton Union Square): a conference focused on smaller, emerging companies looking to secure a partner or investors. Biotech Showcase provides scheduled ~30 minute presentation slots for emerging biopharma companies. This is a great opportunity to present to a diverse audience at one time, but there is no guarantee of quality attendance. The conference also has a meeting system to schedule meetings with investors and companies. Further, there are numerous panels and workshops available that may fit your business needs. Presenting or attending the conference requires registration.
  • RESI Conference (Marine Memorial Hotel): focused on early stage investment, this is a great opportunity for companies looking to raise capital from non-traditional sources of capital such as angels, family offices, etc. While strategic and venture investors do attend, RESI presents the best opportunity to connect with potential investors who may not have been on your radar. Attending RESI requires registration.
  • Digital Medicine & MedTech Showcase (Parc 55): similar to Biotech Showcase, this conference is dedicated to digital health and medtech companies. Presentation opportunities are available along with a partnering forum to schedule meetings directly with investors and partners interested in the space. Further, workshops and panels are available. Registration is required for attendance.
  • East/West CEO Conference (Four Seasons): hosted by the Boston Biotech Conference the weekend leading up to JPM, the West/West CEO conference invites industry CEOs and key decision makers in the life sciences and provides an opportunity to network, discuss key business issues facing emerging companies, and engage in panel discussions. Registration and approval is required for attendance.

Evening Events

The day is far from over after a long day of business meetings. If your evening plans haven’t already been occupied by dinner arrangements, a myriad of events are available each evening. Typically hosted by companies or service providers, these events provide great networking opportunities in a casual environment. While some events have a restrictive invite list, most events are welcoming regardless of whether you pre-registered. If possible, pre-registering will expedite the process of getting in and keep you informed of the event in the future.

Each December, MacDougall Biomedical Communications publishes a list of events, a link to which can be found here: MacDougall JPM Event List 2018

Typically, there is little variation from year to year in the date, timing, and location of events from year to year so you can start planning your evenings by using the 2017 event list prior to the 2018 list’s publication: MacDougall JPM Event List 2017

What to Wear?

While San Francisco might be known for its tech executives wearing hoodies, JPM is a business formal event. For men, we recommend wearing a suit and tie. For women, we recommend a skirt or slacks with a jacket or blouse or a tailored dress. Be mindful of your shoe choice as you may have to do quite a bit of walking on steep hills. My first year at JPM, I bought a brand-new pair of dress shoes and spent a lot of time putting bandages over blisters.

As attendees from last year’s JPM know, San Francisco is not always embraced by sunshine. Temperatures are often in the mid to low 50s and there is always a chance of rain in early January. We’d recommend bringing a light jacket or rain coat. If the forecast calls for rain, be prepared to go through a few cheap umbrellas.

Getting Around

When structuring your meetings, be mindful of the time it will take to get from one meeting to the next. While a map might give the impression that everything in Union Square is centrally located, San Francisco and its infamous hills can make getting around a bit challenging, especially in dress shoes or high heels. For instance, if you have to get from the Four Seasons to the Fairmont, you will have nearly one-mile hike that includes some pretty steep hills.

Planning ahead and knowing how much time will be required to get from one meeting to the next is very important. If you know you have a longer trek, plan on taking an Uber/Lift or taxi. Taxis are usually waiting in front of most of the larger hotels. Uber or Lift will be no more than 2-3 mins away and can be scheduled so they will be waiting outside your hotel.

While reserving your own meeting space can reduce the travel required throughout the day, it is cost prohibitive and well typically cost several thousand dollars per day. It is often expected that smaller, sell-side oriented companies will make the trek to the investor or company.

Again, if we can provide direct assistance with your efforts, please feel free to connect with us directly:

 Written by Chris Baird