Reena Jadhav interviews Ambar Bhattacharyya (Managing Director, Maverick Ventures) at SplashX Invent Health Behavioral and mental health at HP
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[00:01] REENA JADHAV: Hey everyone, its Reena Jadhav here, founder of health bootcamps hanging out at HP for these splashX invent health conference and I’m chatting here with Ambar Bhattacharyya who is a partner at maverick, welcome.
[00:13] AMBAR BHATTACHARYYA: Thank you so much I’m so excited to be here.
[00:15] REENA JADHAV: So what is maverick doing, why are you interested in mental health?
[00:19] AMBAR BHATTACHARYYA: You know, maverick were investment vehicles, we have that hedge fund as well as a venture fund of about four million dollar vehicle, we invest half of that in healthcare mostly in digital health this was a little bit of biotech as well, we are excited to be here mental health is a big focus area for us. We’ve been investors in companies such as One Medical and City Block, the value of your very primary care focused in bonding to mental health as well you know, to the core parts that had been ignored in the health system for far too long. We made some direct investments in mental health behavior whole tech companies like Olympics health and I’m excited to be here to talk about more what we’ve done but also the realities to learn from others here to because this is a real a real need for us as a society and the sector to deal with this problem.
[01:05] REENA JADHAV: So what kind of companies do you invest in? What’s your portfolio look like?
[01:09] AMBAR BHATTACHARYYA: Yeah you know we’re mostly early stage investors, so think of us as series A through series C you know we’d like to get an early kind of 5 to 20 million dollars investment checks, be on the board and be helpful. We like to be there as an entrepreneur thinking is that his or her idea helping them get to market, helping them understand what the customer needs are and then helping them succeed in that and that’s the state we like being in.
[01:37] REENA JADHAV: And there’s a lot of companies in that stage right now looking for funding, so how do you distinguish in this is more for you entrepreneurs out there that are going alright, I’m I the right company for maverick. What is that check list look like? So do you need to have customers; do you need to have a product that works or MVP stage? Talk a little bit about what that did to what does that check list look like?
[02:01] AMBAR BHATTACHARYYA: Yeah, I think there it’s different for different stages, so if you think of the C stage is a really early investments were a person or team with an idea I think what we’re looking for is some sort of spike you know, and by spike I means some different through passion or story that is their motivation enough you know unusual way or some sort of idea that hasn’t been tried before and sounds a little odder out there but you know we love the fact that they want to spend their time energy life on flipping that card and seeing if it’s real. I think as we go later stage you know to venture state I think we’re looking to see evidence that that flip is working right that can mean seeing patients, or customers or revenue in the bank or distribution, any of this things some of our clinical company have the safety data so things in that round, so it changes as the company goes on.
[02:57] REENA JADHAV: And what is the due diligence process look like, so do they come meet with a partner first or an associate? Walk us a little bit through the process?
[03:05] AMBAR BHATTACHARYYA: Yeah, you know for most healthcare companies to meet with three of us as partners, to meet with one of us, you know we will go and do a meeting with this diligence as appropriate depending with the stage at some point in time we meet all three of us and you know, because we are a small team we can do that in a very fast basis right! And I think that speed we have because of our size lets us get to know companies faster an entrepreneurs faster; which we think it’s an advantage in terms of working with people.
[03:37] REENA JADHAV: What are you looking for?
[03:39] AMBAR BHATTACHARYYA: I think what we are looking for in healthcare industry is one, you know and what is most important here is we are making sure that they are really solving a problem for patients and the community at large. You think like companies like City Block which is focused on the Medicate population, its underserved there hasn’t been much innovation there and the private sector and even the government sector; we are taking a primary care model wrapping round with social determinacy[inaudible] with home health all into one to try to care for this community hasn’t been cared for before; so that situation we are looking for an idea that hasn’t been tried and can scale you know, if you look at just the number of medicate patients are members in the US that we are launching in Brooklyn is our first clinic. Even if Brooklyn and New York as a whole there is numerous recipients, you can imagine the idea scale very fast and we’d like to see that too.
[04:36] REENA JADHAV: Yeah, absolutely. Let’s flip around the conversation a little bit. You have invested in some companies, what are you seeing being the biggest challenges that your CEO’s are facing in executing today?
[04:48] AMBAR BHATTACHARYYA: I think you know, in healthcare in particular I think one of the biggest challenges is go to market, how do you actually go through the sale cycle, if you are selling to a care provider, those are long you know, not one or two months to six to nine months; how do you get enough feed back there you know, in a fast fashion when you compare to technology where the product market cycle are you know sometimes weeks you can iterate on your product faster and I think healthcare because of the slow pace of the sale cycle, slower pace of the product innovation cycle to. And so that where we are really focusing our teams on trying to get this cycle faster even if the sale cycle is slower how do we make our product cycle faster so that you can actually win in the long-term.
[05:35] REENA JADHAV: That I think go to market has been where most companies just fall of the cliff. They are just not able to achieve that conversion. Is pricing a factor at all?
[05:44] AMBAR BHATTACHARYYA: You know what nice thing in healthcare we have seen at the pricing appetite from pairs and providers, Pham companies, self insurance employers, we think the pricing appetite is very [inaudible] so that hasn’t been the issue, and the other issue hasn’t sure you know, once you are in there, you are in there. How do you get the decision makers lined up in a way they can make get to a yes and infuriate you faster, and those are two challenges that we are seeing.
[06:13] REENA JADHAV: And where have you been surprised and delighted with the results like what’s actually working and this is trying again to get the entrepreneurs from sense of you know, from the battle field, where is the opportunity?
[06:26] AMBAR BHATTACHARYYA: I think one really contrails idea that we have seen really play out in a couple of our companies is going direct to consumer and this is something most healthcare investors say don’t try, consumers don’t pay for anything and patients don’t pay for anything, insurance companies too, we have seen in our portfolio companies and also actually outside of it growing appetite for consumers to start paying for health and wellness; so you think of things like One Medical where there is annual subscription fee, things like Kim’s where you pay directly for pharmacy outside the insurance firm, things like headspace or where you are paying for meditation and wellness activities anything in the diet, exercise [inaudible] even an equal round people are really you know awareness and wellness and I think you can measure it I think with meditation there is a measurement aspect to it, the same with your health dieting broadly speaking. So I think that’s what has change [inaudible] I think more about this direct consumer models what you have really been popeyed on before now we are at this stage where people are really paying for that.
[07:33] REENA JADHAV: Could you talk a little about what is the profile of that consumer because it’s not everybody. There is the group of people that are happy going around spending money on things like [inaudible] describe a little of that profile. What’s the age group?
[07:47] AMBAR BHATTACHARYYA: Yeah, it’s really a distribution again, I think of things like headspace or com, one thing suited as for the younger population things of that sort but I think the flip side of it which is again growth of high deduction health plan, peoples deductible and companies are in the thousands of dollars so it’s a huge component. So you are starting to see families pay for it, a lot of moms, a lot of people with kids, parents, that’s what we are starting to see in the more and more… yeah!
[08:23] REENA JADHAV: We are starting to see the moms, the female buyers, wonderful. Any parting advises for an entrepreneur the healthcare space, what are the one or two tips for them?
[08:31] AMBAR BHATTACHARYYA: You know the two things that I say is iterate fast, you know, I was meeting with an entrepreneurs today and they have been for four years building a product that they thought will go and be amazing and they had not yet talked to a single customer in four years, they still exist so my one piece of advice to them was, this is amazing theoretically but really go out there and talk more, that’s one piece of advice and two is press pricing as fast as you can because if you in healthcare for the most part there is upside to whatever pricing you think is there. So I recommend those two things.
[09:06] REENA JADHAV: Wonderful!
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