Abe Kwon has been representing tech startups through their “life cycle” from incorporation and raising their first capital, all the way through an exit or merger, for more than a decade.
He’s spent his law career at a handful of firms in Philadelphia, and recently joined Goodwin as the firm opens a Philly office serving the life sciences, tech, healthcare and private equity. The firm’s local office so far has 17 partners, including Kwon, who work from a coworking space at the Cira Center, while they look for long-term office real estate. The firm will be hiring associates and support staff when they find a permanent office location, he said.
Though Philly’s life science sector has been growing for a while, the city isn’t traditionally known as a tech hot bed, per Kwon — but he feels that’s starting to change. The choice to move to Goodwin was an easy one for Kwon, who called it “a premiere firm” for those industries.
“Goodwin is uniquely positioned to serve clients at the busy intersection of capital and innovation,” said Rachael Bushey, co-chair of Goodwin’s Philadelphia office, in a statement. “The Philadelphia market sits squarely within this intersection for biotech, healthcare and pharmaceutical companies, entrepreneurs, and investors.”
The practice is home to lawyers specializing in early-stage companies, patent lawyers, and pros with experience taking companies public — a “360-degree scope,” Kwon said. Because he works with companies in the tech and life sciences space, he can speak to the similarities and differences early-stage companies in those industries hold. Raising an early VC round might look similar for two startups, he said, but there’s industry-specific nuance. A biotech company will be looking at navigating the clinical trial process; its intellectual property needs will be different from that of a SaaS company.
Technical.ly talked to Kwon last year when the easy-flowing VC deals of 2021 were turning into a more challenging market with down rounds in 2022. Now, he said those trends have generally continued, with valuations and deal volume staying down. But he’s not seeing early-stage founders struggling too much to raise their first rounds.
“A lot of that is slanted toward mid- to late-stage companies. There’s been a drop off in giant Series Ds, but less of an impact for seed-stage deals,” Kwon said. “Talking to investors, they’re actually excited about the climate.”
Many of Kwon’s clients have come with him to the new firm, and though they’re not all based in Philadelphia, he’s excited about the ones who are representing the growth of Philly’s tech economy. It’s promising that Goodwin saw the potential for the tech scene here, he said.
“I think it’s validation that there’s something interesting happening in Philadelphia,” Kwon said. “I think in life sciences, people knew that, but I hope it’ll be a spotlight on the promising tech companies here, too.”
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