At the MedCity INVEST conference, scheduled for May 22-24 at the Ritz Carlton in Chicago, healthcare and life science startups have the opportunity to network and engage in salon-style discussions with investors. These Ask the Investor sessions will be held during the breakfast segments of INVEST on the mornings of Tuesday, May 23 and Wednesday, May 24. Startups need to register to participate.
We’re spotlighting some of the investors taking part in these sessions. Jane Rho is director of the venture fund for DaVita Venture Group. She responded to a series of email questions providing a brief overview of DaVita’s investment strategy and what she looks for in startups. This exchange has been lightly edited.
What’s your firm’s investment strategy? How, if at all, has that changed in recent years?
DaVita Venture Group invests in early-stage healthcare startups across tech-enabled services (e.g., for diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular), digital health (e.g., physician and patient engagement), and renal innovation (e.g., devices, diagnostics). Our fund typically targets Series A and beyond, but it also looks at some Seed stage deals as well. Our average check size is $1-10 million with a preference to follow and not lead rounds. Investments are usually made ahead of the business, but our fund stays strategically close to investments with pilots and/or partnerships targeted within 18 months of investing.
What are 1-3 things you would like entrepreneurs pitching to you to keep front of mind?
I recommend entrepreneurs think about how to synthesize what they’re building in a clear statement that includes what the problem is and how their solution is solving it. I encourage to make this statement as concise as possible, which will hopefully reflect the focus of the solution.
Secondly, the more you can quantify what the problem is and how your solution has quantified its impact, the more compelling it can be. If you have data on outcomes, try to find metrics that communicate the unique engagement, clinical impact, etc. that your solution has.
What are some of the easy fixes startups can make to improve their pitch?
I recommend approaching the “pitch” as a conversation vs. as a presentation. Sometimes, it can be much harder to engage when there isn’t an opportunity to steer the conversation in a way that answers the “burning questions.” Some of the best pitches are when both the investor and entrepreneur come away feeling like they not only enjoyed the conversation, but also learned something new.
What was the last company you invested in (needn’t name them, you could describe what they do)?
Our last investment was in a startup called Dock Health, which is building a task management and workflow automation platform for providers. We’re really excited how Dock will be able to help DaVita care teams better communicate and collaborate with nephrology practices, particularly in risk-based arrangements.
What subsector of health tech or life science are you excited by at the moment?
It’s been great to see virtual and hybrid care models bringing more accessible and personalized care to high-risk patients, while understanding how to leverage existing in-person or traditional provider touch-points. Our fund has recently been exploring different disease categories such as pulmonary rehab, CHF, chronic wound care, metabolic health management, and beyond. While we’ve seen promising virtual-only platforms, some of the models we’ve been excited about are taking more of a hybrid or integrated approach to maximize engagement. Rather than trying to add touch points in a siloed way, I’ve appreciated models that have found ways to work within the existing care model to coordinate care, fill gaps, and integrate insights back into the care plan. Ideally, we’ll see more solutions that are working to create a cohesive care experience for both patients and providers.
Photo: Feodora Chiosea, Getty Images