My Letter to you Dear Entrepreneur…..

Putting the c in Science – Commercialization, Community and Capital

I am very much looking forward to my up and coming talk at the 2017 ON Helix conference. As an early stage investor, I especially enjoy opportunities to talk with and learn from life science innovators. You see, for me, science is quite personal.

My talk at the conference will focus on the three c’s of science: Commercialization, Community and Capital. This blog will give you a sample of what I look forward to discussing with the conference attendees. For me, these speaking opportunities keep me connected to innovation and markets – it is what I hear and learn, much more than what I have to say, that makes the travel and time worth every bit of it.

I recognize that you – dear entrepreneur – may not realize just how personal the decision to deploy capital can be for me, the early stage investor. Just as your entrepreneur’s passion connects you to your innovation, your customers’ needs, and your business, it is my passion that connects me to my investments and the innovations that each is driving to market.

My portfolio is made up of a combination of companies that make me feel like I am doing something meaningful with my money and contributing to something that has real value to society. This is especially true of my life science investments, many of which are seeking solutions for patients, doctors, and health care providers in previously underserved markets.

As an investor I have choices. I could invest in much safer things like public companies, real estate, or even shoes.  But my early stage, private company investing is personal. It is as much a statement of who I am as anything else I do.

Why should you the entrepreneur want to understand this? Because it is what makes us – you and I, dear entrepreneur – more alike than you might realize. And this alikeness, should you and I take the time to fully develop an understanding and appreciation of it, can be a powerful tool for your company and the opportunities you are pursuing.

We both want to change the world – for the better. We both want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. And we both have a tolerance for the risk associated with these desires. These are all things that can create a solid foundation for our relationship – you as an entrepreneur and me as investor. And if we both commit to taking the time to listen to each other, before we commit to each other, these bonds can sustain us through the highs and lows of the startup journey. In my experience, if this foundation is strong, these aligned interests can even endure through the absolute failure of a business and carry us through together to your next innovation and my next investment.

Of equal importance is what makes us different. I have found that the most successful investor-entrepreneur relationships are also built on a clear understanding of what each can uniquely bring to the table. I chose you because of the unique opportunity that your innovation presents to me as it relates to my desire to change the world. I chose you because I believe in your innovation and I believe in you as the entrepreneur who will get it into the hands of the market. Equally, you, dear entrepreneur, should choose me for the opportunity I bring to your innovation.  Of course I bring the obvious capital. But if you choose me well, I can bring so much more.

I am surrounded by smart, experienced people who may just be your first or next customers, your trusted advisor, your next hire, your market analyst, your next investor. Once you learn how the innovation economy works, you will see that 6 degrees of separation is more like 2 or 3 in this slice of the economy and the possibilities of who I might be able to help you reach are limitless. This is my community and this is what I can bring to bear if, and only if, we have taken the time to listen to each other, articulate the full potential of your innovation in the market, and identify how together we can unleash the full power of this network.

You see, for life science entrepreneurs, it takes a unique combination of ability to commercialize, ability to engage a community, and an ability to raise capital that is aligned with your innovation.

As I said at the start of this post, I very much look forward to hearing the thoughts of the innovators at the ON Helix conference. I see the day as yet another opportunity for us to identify how we can together build greater understanding between entrepreneurs, investors, and markets so that the fruits of the lab can make it into the waiting hands of the patient.

Written by Sharon Vosmek, CEO, Astia