The Fund Spotlight Interview: Ashley Kalinauskas of Torigen Pharmaceuticals

The Fund Founder Spotlight Interview

Welcome to The Founder Spotlight where we highlight the incredible people behind the companies we’ve backed at The Fund. This week the spotlight is on Ashley Kalinauskas, founder and CEO of Torigen Pharmaceuticals, a biotech company dedicated to helping pets live longer.

Did you know that more than 50% of dogs over the age of 10 die of cancer? Yes,1 in 2! Nobody wants our furry friends to suffer. Thanks to Ashley Kalinauskas, founder of Torigen Pharmaceuticals, there’s a new treatment on the market. Their product, a personalized cancer immunotherapy, is a technology that uses the patient's own tumor cells to create a personalized vaccine. This veterinary cancer care company is the result of Ashley’s graduate thesis project with her former Notre Dame professor.

Torigen has raised over $6M and Ashley has an array of accolades including Forbes 30 under 30 for Science 2020, Connecticut Entrepreneur of the Year 2019, and Top Animal Health Innovation of 2018, to name just a few. Torigen is leading the pack in companion animal immuno-oncology and they have treated over 1,000 pets including dogs, cats, horses, and even a few ferrets, skunks and tigers. 

  • Where do you see Torigen focusing its efforts in the next few years? 

Our focus is to be the leader in veterinary oncology, really taking a stand and being able to provide therapeutics for pets with cancer. We’ve assembled a top tier veterinary team and plan to have 3 products on the market within the next 3 years. 

  • What’s one of the pillars of Torigen?

We want to provide affordable, safe, and effective therapies that can have a larger demand in the veterinary market because they’re accessible and provided by both specialists and general practitioner veterinarians. 

  • Can you give any advice to up and coming entrepreneurs?

It’s all about building a network and building your tribe because it’s a pretty lonely journey to run a company. Being able to connect with other founders, who can relate to your experience is key.

  • Do you have any personal goals?

I’m thinking about doing a marathon this fall. I don’t know if I have the time commitment to be able to do it right now, but I want to try. I’m in a half marathon running program and I’ve done a few half marathons, but I’m thinking my mileage is getting up to the point where I can do a full marathon. 

  • Of course we have to ask, do you have any pets? 

Dave is my mini goldendoodle. He’s my best friend and he’s about to turn 3. His birthday is this month and we’re going to take him to his favorite place in the world, Bark Park! He’s an awesome companion, especially during the past year when we relied on our pets as much as they relied on us.