The SLP ‘VC for a Day’ class, was a particularly timely and exciting collaboration, between the Startup Leadership Program and the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur Programme. It brought together three of the key ingredients for startup success. Namely, the entrepreneurs, who in this case were those with healthcare domain expertise, the investors who are at the interface with both the broader economy and capital markets and the supporting ecosystems; the accelerators and incubators.
The event was a unique opportunity for the NHS Clinical Entrepreneur fellows to take a seat on the other side of the table (Acting as VCs by forming four investment syndicate groups), to understand what VCs are looking for, how they evaluate startups, and how they close deals. The day began with selected startups pitching directly to the VC syndicate groups. The VC syndicate groups performed due-diligence on each startup vis-à-vis, negotiated the particulars of the term-sheet with a particular startup, and then pitched this proposal to actual VCs, the judging ‘Investment Committee’.
We, three fellow doctors and NHS Clinical Entrepreneurs, volunteered to bring the day to fruition and benefited hugely from the experience of the indomitable Steven Hess and, former class organiser, Oleg Giberstein. The class framework had a very strong pedigree in terms of post class satisfaction scores, and therefore, we focused on tailoring the class to the needs of the NHS Clinical Entrepreneurs.
Through our networks, we sourced the ‘Investment Committee’ judging panel made up of healthcare VCs focused on early-stage startups (digital health, med-tech, and life sciences) including a specialist in venture debt! We are enormously grateful to Camilla Dolan (Managing Partner at Eka Ventures), Claudio D’Angelo (Managing Partner at RYSE Asset Management), and Kristine Erwin (Norgine Ventures) for their support and expertise.
We witnessed an evolution in the pitches throughout the day and key insights from the interactions between the Clinical Entrepreneurs and those with commercial experience. For example, clinicians are often trained to solve clinical problems, however, a broader understanding of the market and competition, and a strong go-to-market strategy and revenue model are essential in terms of the investment proposition. In many ways this was as expected; NHS Clinical Entrepreneurs are clinicians and often part-time entrepreneurs, if such a thing can exist! Thus, we appreciate that it is critical to facilitate more interaction between these important groups so that the future healthcare startups, that we all want and need, can grow with the key stakeholders in mind.