2005 Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology graduate Meenal Lele started a biotechnology company that seeks to prevent food allergies.
In 2018, Lele founded Hanimune Therapeutics with the goal of developing food allergy-preventative products. She started Lil Mixins under Hanimune Therapeutics to promote the early introduction of allergens through powder packets and probiotic capsule supplements.
Lele was inspired to start Hanimune Therapeutics when her son developed food allergies at a young age and learned shortly after his diagnosis that a high percentage of peanut allergies are preventable.
“[Food allergies] is a terrible disease that really restricts your life … [and] limits all the various things you can do,” Lele told The Daily Pennsylvanian.
Lele recalled that creating a company was a different experience from what she was taught as an undergraduate student.
She said that although the M&T program trains its students to think of what makes the best product from a scientific perspective, a successful businessperson should understand how the product works and why it works the way it works to prevent making mistakes.
“Any activity you do has ripple effects on all parts of the business,” Lele said. “Think of obstacles four years from now, five years from now. Optimize better instead of doing one thing at a time.”
Lele said that while the initial start-up process — starting with an idea and forming teams — is the same for all companies, the way founders think about their products is what differentiates a company’s level of success.
In January, Hanimune completed a seed round funded by partners such as BioAdvance, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, and angel investors.
Five years from now, Lele hopes that Hanimune Therapeutics put at least two — if not multiple — food allergy treatments on the market.
Lele said the pharmaceutical development process is one riddled with regulations, and the production process is a collaborative effort with the United States Food and Drug Administration. For next steps, Lele said she seeks to “develop things the FDA is excited to commercialize.”