When Passion Meets Profession: My Future in Healthcare Investing

It’s not everyday that people get to be passionate about their work, but when someone finds that fit it drives them to do more. Everyday I’m lucky enough to meet entrepreneurs that are trying to tackle big problems, and it’s those that can answer Simon Sinek’s question of “Why” that I believe have a better chance to succeed. Personally, working in venture capital I knew that I was going to find that fit by adding value to entrepreneurs and hyper-learning about new industries/technology, but now my level of passion is being taken to a whole new level…by healthcare investing.

If you ask any VC, we’re all aware of our personal biases and how our upbringing and experiences have shaped our opinions when it comes to investing. While the lack of diversity in venture capital is hurting innovation, I see the definition of diversity going beyond race, gender and religion, but even deeper to include someone’s story.

As an investor I always look for an “unfair” advantage in an entrepreneur and what motivates them to overcome every insurmountable challenge that comes their way. Additionally, I love to meet founders who have experienced the problem personally and it’s these people that I’m more likely to bet on. While we see this in entrepreneurs day in and day out, I think it’s rare for generalist seed stage investors to understand and appreciate every problem/solution combo that they see. However, I believe it’s the investors that have a more emotional connection to the problem/solution that will make for better partners for entrepreneurs.

And that’s why I’m ready to invest in healthcare.

As an investor you can’t just invest in things because you like them. With achieving high financial returns being the primary goal of your job, you must identify opportunities that will enable this. Luckily, I’ve identified massive opportunities that can combine a deeply personal passion with financial returns.

While our healthcare system collides with today’s technology entrepreneurs, I’m excited to invest in solutions that improve patient outcomes, reduce the cost of healthcare, increase accessibility and just make everyone’s lives better overall.

Over the course of my 24 years on earth, I’ve had a very personal relationship with our healthcare system. Here are the 5 categories where my personal stories meet massive opportunities. It’s these categories and dozens others that I’m extremely excited to explore investing in:

  • Home Infusions and Patient Monitoring: At 6 months of age I was diagnosed with Primary Immune Deficiency, which in short means my production of white blood cells is lower than the average human being. As a result, my white blood cell counts would get low and I got sick quite regularly growing up. To counterbalance the illness, I required infusions every 2 weeks. Although I originally spent about 4–6 hours at Boston Children’s Hospital each time, the advancement of medical technology has now enabled me to infuse myself at home on a weekly basis for 1.5 hours. The low-tech solution that is currently provided gives me a sense of freedom that I did not have prior, but I believe the technology can continue to improve. From Crohns to cancer, I’m excited to think about the potential freedom that other patients may be granted in the future while still maintaining a high level of care. With medical records going electronic and the IoT constantly evolving, I can see a future where doctors are always tied into a patient’s medication adherence and state of health.

Getting an infusion for the American Red Cross Plasma Campaign

  • Mental Health: Aside from the mental health issues in my family that date back generations, I grew up in a house where my Mother was a social worker with her own practice. Between late night emergency phone calls with patients to piles of billing paperwork, I’ve seen pain points for both therapists and patients alike that I believe technology will have an incredidle impact on. The U.S. spends $113 billion on mental health treatment every year and there is no reason why this industry cannot be improved on.
  • Senior Care: 10+ years ago my Grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimers. She lived with my Grandfather an hour and a half away on Cape Cod, who had a pacemaker put in during his 40’s. For years the two faced numerous challenges that forced my parents, aunts and uncles to step up and take care of them. The experience wasn’t and continues not to be an easy one. Personal but common pain points include incidents at home, selecting an independent living facility and now communicating with the assisted living facility that they’re in. Along with a slew of other issues, I’ve personally witnessed the difficulties that our aging population’s going to present. The U.S. population currently has 43M people over the age of 65, but that is expected to increase to 73M by 2030. This presents significant challenges for our healthcare system, seniors and caregivers alike. Technology can and will impact all parts of the spectrum here and I hope to be a part of it.

The Bearak Clan on Cape Cod (My Mom’s Side)

  • Obesity and Heart Disease: A Cornell study stated that Obesity accounts for 21% of U.S. Healthcare Costs. Meanwhile, in 2010 the cost of cardiovascular disease in the U.S. was about $444 billion, which accounted for $1 of every $6 spent on healthcare in the U.S. Simply put, this is a HUGE problem. Unfortunately, it’s a problem that my family has experienced to a great degree. Aside from weight problems, my Grandfather’s siblings and Father all passed away before 55 from heart attacks. This is a problem that I can’t wait for technology to help solve.
  • Addiction: Between tobacco, alcohol and drug addiction, our country pumps $166 billion a year into the healthcare system. 1 in 12 adults suffer from alcohol addiction and Drugfree.org reports that 23.5M people in the United States are addicted to either alcohol or drugs. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t know someone who has had a problem with addiction. Clearly this is a space that could use some creative technology solutions.

While these 5 categories are the ones that I have the most personal experiences with, I’m excited to explore additional ones as well. VC dollars are being pumped into healthcare startups in many of the largest categories above, but the reality is that so many more opportunities in smaller, but still massive markets are to follow.

I’m not sure if the solutions to these problems are going to be done using IoT, virtual reality, mobile or even something that doesn’t exist yet. What I am sure of, though, is that opportunity to marry passion and profession within healthcare investing will drive me to work relentlessly to find, invest in and support what I believe to be the best entrepreneurs in the space.

Do you have a startup that solves a problem related to healthcare and touches the end consumer? If so, I want to talk to you. Shoot me an email atJShuman@Corigin.com or tweet me @BoatShuman.

Thanks for reading.

-Jason

 

Nov, 02, 2015

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