Dr. Ben Robbins talks about the presence of GV in healthcare

Benjamin Robbins, MD, MBA, Venture Capital Partner at GV, explains the process the venture capitalist follows when deciding to invest in a healthcare company, including examining the intersection of technology and health services.


Can you describe the process GV follows to assess which emerging healthcare companies will receive capital?

It varies; there are many different processes depending on the situation. The process we like to follow is that we spend almost all of our time building a thesis or our thoughts on a given space before we start looking at companies in that space.

Home care is a good example. We talked to academics—there are people at [Johns] Hopkins who are really on the cutting edge of technology. [We] have a good idea of ​​which home services are particularly effective for patients? What do they like? What has a return on investment [return on investment]? Where is there overlap in the different parties? And then we start to be more aware when there are companies that come to us looking for funding or to create our own businesses.

That being said, the venture capital world also offers plenty of fast and competitive deals. Certainly, even if we try to avoid them, it is difficult to avoid, there are only opportunistic investments. There are people we know in our network who will refer companies raising capital. It’s not part of a super in-depth thesis, and we kind of have to make do. In these situations, it’s usually, we meet the team, we have to do the things that we would like to do over a longer period of time in building a thesis after meeting the company, to validate what they think, validate who’s on the team, validate the business models, and then we’ll make an investment from there.

Besides healthcare technology, where is GV making its presence felt in healthcare?

For people on my team, in general, we find it difficult to separate technology and services. Certainly we will make investments in technology, but usually it is somewhere in the hospital infrastructure; it’s usually not related to patient care. The technology we invest in with respect to patient care is usually associated with a service.

The problem is simply that, when there are technological solutions, it is often very difficult to get suppliers to understand the technology, to use it. They are often very busy, they have kind of bad experiences with old software. So we spend most of our time looking at the intersection of technology and services. Even we will look at intersections with the pharmaceutical industry, with other parts of the healthcare ecosystem as well. But in terms of pure technology, we actually spend very little time on purely technological solutions.

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