Sramana Mitra: What is the go-to market strategy in each of these cases? Are you particularly counting on clinicians recommending this? In that case, are you actively working with the clinicians to get them to recommend?
Kerry Rupp: Interestingly, both business models are available for both businesses. If I take the watch, traditionally the other types of devices in the space were clearly targeted to seniors who were in a place in their life where they were not going to care anymore. It was sold through dealer networks. That market is still available to UnaliWear.
You can imagine that this watch is also opening up a much younger demographic. Let’s say the 70 and up who are still active and maybe playing golf and tennis and doing things, but want that security of being able to connect to a call center if they hurt their head. All of a sudden, there’s a whole new audience that could be reached. That audience needs to be reached in a different way, because they’re not at that later stage working with the nursing home.
There’s a direct to consumer element whether that’s Facebook ads or other kinds of methodologies. The company is pursuing both of those angles to get those different parts of the demographics of the market. BrainCheck started not only through sports teams in schools but also to parents directly. There is an app available. We’ve done some really successful tests around going direct to consumers.
What’s pretty exciting now is clinicians are using it in their offices because it’s a recommendation from the American Neurological Association this year. Not only are the doctors sometimes recommending it to their patients to do at home, they are often executing the tasks in their waiting room or with their technicians in the office. A patient can then continue to do regular tests at their leisure on their iPhone app. There is that mix of direct to consumer and the clinical pathway.
Sramana Mitra: That’s very encouraging actually. What trends are you seeing in your deal flow?
Kerry Rupp: One of the things that has been pretty marked and not surprising is, while we are focusing on healthcare and gender-diverse teams, the volume of deals that are related to women’s health whether that’s fertility, menopause, pregnancy, post-pregnancy, STD is low. We think that’s partly due to the fact that the venture capital industry has very few women in decision making positions. The data ranges depending on what study you look at. It’s pretty clear that there’s less single-digits venture capital who are women.
There’s strong correlative data that shows that women are more likely to invest in women-led teams. I think it was HBR that did a study that showed that venture capital funds with more women in senior leadership are twice as likely to invest in women founders and three times more likely to invest in women CEOs.
Certainly, they also understand these topics like breast pumps and how archaic the technology is today or the lack of options for menopause. The women who have tried to innovate in this area before have faced some pretty strong hurdles to fundraising. We’re seeing a lot of things in that sector. There hasn’t been a lot of innovation in that sector in a long time. We also see a lot of healthcare companies that are trying to figure out what the pathway is whether they’re an insurance product that helps the insurers.
You’ve got hospital systems that are focused similarly on the long-term outcomes and they’re very far down the Affordable Care Act process. You’ve got other healthcare systems that are still very much in reimbursement mode and thinking about how to make revenue from every transaction. You’ve got consumers who are starting to take more of healthcare into their own hands. Then layer on top of that the personalization of medicine where you’ve got more data about each patient.
You see companies in the health tech sector trying to find their way with the optimum business model. Usually, there are both clinical and consumer pathways. There are reasons you would start with one over the other. Trying to find the optimum market is tricky. We see companies that come to us with a B2B healthcare plan and then it becomes a B2C. Maybe they thought they’d go to insurance companies and now, they come back and we see them again and they’re going to employers. There’s just a lot of shifting around.
It’s encouraging that the companies are finding how to identify where the opportunity is. It’s hard to know what the right model is. On the sustainable consumer side, a lot of the innovations in the sustainability sector are still in the B2B infrastructure side. We’ll see things around food waste that will be at an industrial scale and not really where it’s impacting the consumer yet. It’s really niche consumers who are going to go to the effort of selecting these restaurants or these kinds of home technologies that will allow them to repurpose food in this way.
Similarly, with solar technology and other kind of energy efficiency, more of the deal flow is still on the infrastructure side and not yet trickling its way down to consumers. It may be a little early for that to be a consumer-facing market and for us to find mass adoption opportunities that are venture-scalable. We are going to a couple of shows coming up in the next few months where we’re hoping to get more exposure to more deal flow in that sector.