Circle Pharma (Circle) is a pre-clinical stage life sciences organization developing a new paradigm for macrocycle drug discovery. Deploying structure-based rational design and synthetic chemistry, they are initially focusing development efforts on intracellular protein-protein interactions that are key drivers in cancer.
Circle raised a $66M Series C financing round in June 2021. Proceeds from the financing were allocated to advancing cyclin-targeted programs towards the clinic, which required them to triple in size from 12 to 36 team members. To support this growth, they needed to increase their capacity to track spending and report on budgets.
With the help of Procurify, Circle successfully increased visibility into their spending, ensuring that every dollar available is used to bring innovative, first-in-class therapies to patients.
Senior Director of Business Operations
Amy Cowgill is the Senior Director of Business Operations at Circle Pharma. She brings a wealth of business and technology leadership experience to Circle, having successfully built solutions and organizational capacity in multiple industries for a range of organizations. Amy holds a Master’s degree in International Development and a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics.
Senior Director of Business Operations
Senior Accounting Manager
In early 2021, Circle Pharma was in the midst of accelerated growth, scaling operations to empower scientists in their discoveries. Having closed a $45M Series B in 2020, they knew the importance of tracking and reporting on spend. Circle needed to increase their capacity in budget tracking, continuing to build a proactive spend management culture.
Amy Cowgill, Senior Director of Business Operations, joined Circle Pharma in 2020 to build out the business operations function. Inspired by the team’s brilliant research, and with a mission to make every dollar count, Cowgill saw an immediate opportunity to increase efficiency in the way laboratory and operations teams worked together to manage budgets.
“If we couldn’t track spend, I wasn’t sure how we were going to report out to the investors or maintain our sanity as we tried to scale. We were looking for a tool that both streamlined purchasing and allowed for proactive budget management; seeing spend after it happens does not help me budget.”
“The idea about being smart with our funding resonated with [the scientists],” said Cowgill. “We have a huge responsibility to our investors, our potential patients, to our board, and to science in general to spend this money well. To do that, we need to understand our spending.”
Circle Pharma needed a system that supported biotech-specific purchasing and that would help teams move to more efficient, automated processes. Cowgill was specifically looking for a tool to:
After doing a full comparison of Procurify against alternative biotech-specific spending solutions – and having a well-respected biotech organization refer Procurify to Cowgill – the team selected Procurify as their go-to spend management platform.
Before Procurify, scientists at Circle relied on spreadsheets and emails to request and approve purchases.
“The purchasing processes before Procurify were minimal,” said Cowgill. “We used a spreadsheet where we would enter in information and manually generate a purchase order using Excel. It was manually tracked on spreadsheets.”
Thanks to Procurify, scientists at Circle now have their time back, and teams benefit from streamlined requests and approvals. In Cowgill’s words, “We’ve experienced huge time savings.”
Real-time visibility into budgets empowers teams to manage their own velocity, moving quickly when needed and slowing down before overspending. Cowgill knew that proactive budget reporting and the ability to forecast spend against budgets was key to creating a sustainable biotech organization.
With Procurify, Cowgill provides scientists with better visibility into their spend.
“Being able to tell [the scientists] exactly where they’re at and how the dollars are being spent against each of our general ledger (GL) codes really resonated with them,” explained Cowgill. “They wanted to know how their lab supply dollars are spent and where they’re at. A lot of us didn’t have access [to budgets] before. Now I can just pop into [Procurify], and it takes no time at all.”
Once the budgets are set in Procurify, Circle can begin monitoring spend in real time.
“Once I load [our budgets] into Procurify, I can watch it in real time. You have different statuses so I know where we’re at,” Cowgill explained. “For us, it’s been an iterative process. I started with our main GLs first so I could watch them. Then we added additional budgets, and now we’ve moved all of our capital purchases into Procurify to help us monitor our spend. I think it’s great that we can proactively track our spending. I love the graphics that break down what's committed.”
When reviewing invoices, the accounting department checks to ensure that the prices originally agreed upon are correct, the goods on the invoice have been received, and that internally, the purchase was pre-approved. With expectations from investors to report on how funding is spent, accounting teams within biotech organizations need a way to identify what invoices are ready for payment, as well as be able to pull detailed accounting reports for financial audits.
“Before Procurify, we would receive a bulk bill at the end of each month, which was a lot of work for the accounting team [to review],” shared Cowgill. Today, the accounts payable team at Circle takes an invoice-by-invoice payment approach, reducing time spent on bulk bills.
For Eran Hozias, Senior Accounting Manager at Circle Pharma, having all of the purchase data live within Procurify helps him understand the story behind each bill.
“I look at the bill, the purchase order, and follow up with the requester. If we don't receive the item, I’ll go to the vendor to check what’s going on. It’s easy. I can just pop into Procurify to find the purchase order.”
If more information is needed, accounting teams can see a clear record of who put in the initial request within Procurify. “I can follow up with the requester, and usually get an answer within a day,” said Hozias. In addition to managing bill payments, three-way matching within Procurify has helped Circle Pharma become more prepared for audits. “From an audit perspective, being able to complete a successful three-way match was something that our CEO and I had talked a lot about. I needed to make sure that [in terms of our data], we have all of our I’s dotted and T’s crossed,” said Cowgill.
Cowgill and Hozias continue to focus on improving operations within Circle Pharma to drive the team’s efforts towards what really matters: drug discovery and development.
The team’s dedication to science shines throughout every department at Circle, with each team member striving to create more efficient, effective processes within their roles. With Nobel Laureate William G. Kaelin Jr., of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, on Circle’s scientific advisory board, it’s clear that Circle Pharma operates with a “science-first” mindset.
With their energy now focused on the development of new drugs, the team at Circle Pharma will continue to improve the way they operate cross functionally through their systems, governance structures, and processes.
To learn more about Circle Pharma, visit circlepharma.com.
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