Apellis Pharmaceuticals


Apellis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: APLS) achieved the third biggest life science IPO of 2017 with $150 million raised, yet the groundwork was laid well beforehand – beginning with its S-1 filing in 2015 and subsequent search for a CFO to manage the next steps. Headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, where experienced life science executives are in shorter supply, the company was advised by investor Morningside Ventures to consider an alternative: an engagement with Danforth Advisors to access the industry’s top talent on a flexible, part-time basis. 

Danforth Role

  • Engaged an interim CFO who became an integral member of the company’s leadership team in a strategic and operational role that spanned more than two years
  • Provided advisory on business development and corporate strategy, handled staffing and employee compensation matters, regularly participated in board and staff meetings
  • Oversaw company’s financing strategy, including a Series D and a Series E capital raise, followed by an important $20 million loan agreement with Silicon Valley Bank


Under Danforth’s guidance, the company was able to secure the runway needed to ultimately achieve its goal of an IPO. We maintained a board role to assist with the now-public company’s transition to an in-house CFO. “We couldn’t have found a better resource than Dan Geffken as interim CFO, who’s the best at what he does in an industry that is ever-changing,” said Cedric Francois, MD, PhD, President and CEO of Apellis. “His contributions were invaluable to a very important chapter of our growth story, and I wouldn’t hesitate to call upon his expertise in the future.”