Startup Health’s reputation for providing continuous mentorship, networking, and financial support has made it an ideal partner for some of today’s fastest-growing healthtech companies, including unicorns like CityBlock, Devoted Health, Virta, and Quit Genius.
Co-founders Steven Krein and Unity Stoakes have built a community of more than 700 founders and invested in over 380 healthtech companies, collectively valued at $25B. Startup Health’s new Moonshots Impact Rolling Fund provides $100k in funding to as many as 15 early-stage startups each quarter that apply to be part of the program.
Members of Startup Health’s portfolio, referred to as “health transformers,” are working to solve some of the most pressing healthcare issues today, including curing cancer and Alzheimer’s, extending human longevity, and delivering quality care to billions of underserved people.
“Our portfolio companies are working on what we call ‘health moonshots,’” explains Stoakes, who serves as the fund’s president and managing partner. “The term is a callback to the Apollo 11 moon mission, which required nearly 400k individuals to work together over 10 years to achieve a singular goal. Similarly, Startup Health brings together a new generation of healthtech innovators and provides a collaborative approach to make it faster and easier to transform the health and wellbeing of our planet.”
Stoakes recently chatted with AngelList about Startup Health’s investment thesis, collaborative platform, and the keys to healthtech investing.
Matthew: How does Startup Health get access to great deals?
Unity: After 10 years of helping healthtech companies go from seed to IPO, we’ve developed a formula for what they need to be successful and codified how to scale what we call the “Health Transformer Mindset” (more on this shortly) to build moonshot companies.
It’s not just capital that’s needed to grow. It’s also networks of experts and partners to validate the founders’ idea and business model. It's customer introductions, access to specialized talent, and media and promotion that can help the company rise above the noise and communicate its mission.
The StartUp Health platform supports founders on all these fronts, from inception to IPO. It’s a unique value-add based on our own team’s experience building successful enterprises. This approach attracts the world’s best founders and co-investors, who also believe in the need to break down the legacy healthcare silos.
Matthew: What is the value-add of having Startup Health on your cap table?
Unity: Each company we invest in receives access to the following:
- Monthly peer-support forums.
- Entrepreneurial coaching sessions.
- On-demand reviews of incoming financing and M&A term sheets.
- Monthly virtual demo days attended by health innovation stakeholders.
- A digital and print broadcast network creating daily stories of progress, news, and financings.
- Ongoing member events and community gatherings.
- Exclusive interactive sessions with industry experts, CEOs, and investors.
- $250,000+ in free and discounted services from industry vendors.
Matthew: How do you choose who to accept into the Startup Health program?
Unity: We have a structured process for reviewing and vetting founders and making investment decisions. It’s called the Health Transformer Mindset Scorecard. When we meet with a founding team, we assess eight aspects of their mindset to determine if they’d be a good fit for Startup Health and if Startup Health would be a good fit for them.
When we do the assessment, we look beyond the business model and product innovation to assess the founder's long-term commitment, the supportive relationships they surround themselves with, their ambition, their self-awareness, and their coachability. Perhaps most importantly, we look at their healthy habits to see if they are “batteries included.” We ask, “do they add energy to a room when they walk in or drain it?” It’s usually one or the other, and it makes all the difference.
We use this process because we believe it can help determine future success and systematize the diligence process in a way that drives our double-bottom-line approach of building successful companies while also pushing to achieve health moonshots.
Matthew: How does a Rolling Fund align with Startup Health’s goals?
Unity: We have portfolio companies in need of growth capital every quarter, so having access to an ongoing, growing pool of capital becomes invaluable to supporting our entrepreneurs. The Rolling Fund has allowed us to significantly increase the amount of capital we raise and the speed with which we can raise it.
In turn, we're able to make more new investments and follow-on in our growing portfolio over time. Additionally, we can democratize access to health innovation for many more investors.
Matthew: What advice would you give to investors looking into healthtech?
Unity: The healthtech sector is undergoing massive disruption, thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic. Billions of dollars are currently flowing into this market, which is helping make the impossible possible. The most obvious example of this is the rapid development of multiple viable COVID-19 vaccines.
But that should be considered the exception to the rule.
Healthtech is a long-term journey. It takes perseverance and staying power to be successful. Those that can stand the test of time can make a tremendous impact and tap into this global opportunity.
Health is like climate change in that it impacts everyone on this planet. Investors that have that long-term mindset can see a healthy financial gain and play a role in increasing the health and wellbeing of humanity.