Longevity Network
  • Feb 07, 2017
  • Investor Spotlight

Investor Spotlight: Lisa Suennen, Venture Valkyrie

Investor Spotlight: Lisa Suennen, Venture Valkyrie

Lisa Suennen is the founder and managing partner at Venture Valkyrie Consulting, founded in 2013.  The company provides business advisory services to large corporations, not-for-profit institutions, and venture capital and private equity firms in the healthcare field. Her advisory work focuses on both corporate venture capital and general market and partnership strategy to help clients capitalize on the significant opportunities presented by today’s evolving healthcare system. In particular she focuses on the intersections of health IT, healthcare services and medical technology and where these come together in digital health.  Lisa is also a member of the faculty at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, where she teaches classes on venture capital and the changing healthcare economy.  Previously, Lisa spent 15 years as a Partner at Psilos Group, and before that, Lisa helped build Merit Behavioral Care.

Lisa writes a widely read blog on healthcare and healthcare investing at www.venturevalkyrie.com.   She published her first book in 2013: Tech Tonics, Can Passionate Entrepreneurs Heal Healthcare with Technology, coauthored with Dr. David Shaywitz.  Together they also host a popular podcast, also called Tech Tonics, focused on the people and passion at the intersection of technology and health.

We spoke to Lisa about the opportunity she sees in the 50+ market.

Longevity Network: Tell us about your role at Venture Valkyrie, LLC?

Lisa Suennen: I work with venture funds, particularly corporate strategic funds to help them advance their healthcare investment strategy.  I also work with large companies to help them formulate and implement digital health strategy, particularly where they seek to advance beyond the device/pill.  Lastly, I am an advisor to several venture funds and teach healthcare venture capital at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business.

LN: From an investor standpoint, why is the 50+ population an important one?

LS: For one thing it is the fastest growing population in the country and also the group with the most wealth. When you combine that with the fact that this segment also has the greatest healthcare needs, the size of the market opportunity is apparent.  The trick is to remember that “people over 50” is not a singular population, but many different kinds of people with different needs.  It is essential to really understand the market segmentation and how to get to the target segment of the market effectively.  Few companies have through this through well for the 50+ opportunity.

LN: What do you look for in a startup/company? How do you like to be pitched? 

LS: I look for the usual things – great management, great idea – but also for things that are new and not oversaturated in the market.  No one wants to invest in the 20th version of the same thing.  I also look for unique product or operational aspects that make it hard for others to compete, as well as for a very good understanding of market segmentation and how to approach the market.  Most importantly, in healthcare, I look for things that align the financial incentives of patients, payers and providers, as I believe that alignment is present in the most successful endeavors.

LN: What excites you most about the health technology market?

LS: There is so much opportunity still to grow and do this well.  So much of healthcare IT has been incremental, starting with the awful systems we had and making them slightly better.  There is a great opportunity to take denovo approaches and consumer-marketing know-how to improve patient experience, provider experience and overall outcome.  Just the elimination of waste and error is a $1 trillion opportunity.

LN: What are some common misconceptions or mistakes you see companies or investors make in this space?

LS: Too often entrepreneurs think that consumers will pay out of pocket for healthcare products.  This is rarely true.  Consumers expect insurance to pay for healthcare products and services and they do not typically make long-term investments in their own health.  It’s unfortunate but true.  The other mistake is assuming that a long-term ROI period will be good enough for someone to justify buying a product.  By and large payers and provider systems want to see ROI within a year or less – if the payback is avoiding clinical problems 3-5 years out, you are probably going to lose.

LN: What do you see as the biggest growth opportunities in the 50+ economy? Is there an area of the market that really isn’t being covered?

LS: There is great opportunity at the intersection of health and finance.  These two areas are so intrinsically intertwined as we age and we need better ways to manage our assets to pay for health, better insurance products to cover us in these scenarios, better knowledge to make choices, products that reduce fraud and elder abuse and new approaches to combine life/health insurance to make it more useful and valuable.  We also need products and services that enable us to improve the end of life experience for people and bring choice and dignity back to the process.  There are nascent efforts at this but we have a long way to go.

To learn more about Lisa and Venture Valkyrie, visit venturevalkyrie.com and follow her on Twitter.

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