Well-funded stealthy biotech startup Nautilus hires former Smartsheet, Isilon, GenapSys execs

From left to right: Chris Blessington, vice president of corporate marketing and communications at Nautilus; Anna Mowry, vice president of finance and business operations; and Subra Sankar, senior vice president of product development. (Nautilus Biotechnology Photos)

Sujal Patel is getting the band back together at his secretive new biotech startup Nautilus Biotechnology. The company is beefing up its executive team with three new additions:

  • Chris Blessington, vice president of corporate marketing and communications
  • Anna Mowry, vice president of finance and business operations
  • Subra Sankar, senior vice president of product development

Mowry and Blessington previously worked with Patel at Isilon Systems, a Seattle startup he co-founded and sold to EMC for $2.5 billion in 2010. Mowry was most recently at Igneous and spent time at Amazon Web Services. Blessington was previously a marketing and communications chief at Smartsheet and ExtraHop Networks.

Sankar is a former product development chief at GenapSys, and led engineering at Solexa/Illumina.

The three execs will help Nautilus further develop and market its next-generation platform to study the human proteome, the body’s full set of proteins.

“It definitely helps us accelerate our efforts,” Patel told Mekhato.

Patel and his co-founder Parag Mallick, a Stanford professor and cancer researcher, have been largely under-the-radar for the past four years working on Nautilus. Now they are quickly building out their team, helped by a $76 million Series B round raised last year.

Nautilus Biotechnology co-founders Sujal Patel and Parag Mallick. (Nautilus Photo)

The startup has an ambitious plan to change the way therapeutics are developed, seeking to catalyze a new wave of medical treatment.

Nautilus, co-located in Seattle and Silicon Valley, is building a combination of hardware and software to more accurately and efficiently quantify the human proteome.

While it’s now relatively simple and cheap to analyze a genome with a drop of blood, the same progress hasn’t been made with the proteome — and that’s the opportunity Nautilus is looking to capture with what it describes as faster, cheaper, and more precise proteomic technologies.

There are several use cases for the company’s technology, including therapeutics development. In some ways, Nautilus wants to democratize proteomics, similar to how companies such as publicly-traded biotech giant Illumina have done with genomics.

“It’s an incredibly exciting space,” said Blessington, who previously spent five years at collaboration software giant Smartsheet, including its transition to a public company in 2018.

Blessington pointed to the recent news about DeepMind, Google’s deep-learning program that solved a key protein-related challenge.

“There’s a growing awakening about the potential of protein analysis to make a difference in people’s lives,” he said.

Patel added that the pandemic has shone a larger spotlight on the entire therapeutics market with the rapid development of vaccines. “That’s good for all players in the marketplace,” he said.

Nautilus last year raised $76 million from an all-star group of investors including Vulcan Capital, the multi-billion-dollar holding company created by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen; Bezos Expeditions, the VC arm of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos; and top biotech firm Perceptive Advisors and Defy Partners. Previous backers AME Cloud Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Bolt, and Madrona Venture Group invested more cash.

The company now has 62 employees. Mary Godwin, vice president of operations, is another former Isilon exec. The C-suite also includes Nick Nelson, chief business officer who previously led the new and emerging markets business at Illumina.

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