AS A VENTURE CAPITAL INVESTOR, YOU’RE MANAGING A PORTFOLIO OF COMPANIES THAT ARE ACTIVE IN INFECTION PREVENTION AND WELLNESS. HOW HAS THE CURRENT LANDSCAPE INFLUENCED YOUR INVESTMENT DECISIONS?
Prolog Ventures was one of the first venture capital funds to target the healthy living space as an exciting growth area. Over the last 15 months (not the last 15 weeks), we’ve been focusing specifically on infection prevention ventures in collaboration with Lonza Group Ltd, a global leader in microbial control solutions, as a corporate partner.
We aim to go miles deep, not miles wide. It’s clear that infection prevention will be a, if not the, defining characteristic of the new normal for consumers and for businesses of all stripes. For several of our portfolio companies that were viewing hospitals and health care as their initial target market—with an intention to expand into food, travel, retail, and other sectors later—the global pandemic has accelerated demand in those “later” sectors. So, many industries now need to rapidly gear up for infection prevention before they can reopen. We are interested in partnering with other large corporations that may want to collaborate on strategic venture capital investments in infection prevention specifically, and consumer wellness more generally.
YOU WORK AT THE CUSP OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP, INNOVATION, AND INVESTING. COULD YOU DESCRIBE WHAT A TYPICAL DAY AT THE FUND LOOKS LIKE?
Learning and helping. We are in the amazing position to be always on the learning end of conversations—with talented entrepreneurs, leading scientists, and industry luminaries as our teachers. We are also in the amazing position to help those talented entrepreneurs. Part of our value-add is the cross-fertilization of ideas and experiences we have accumulated from engaging with many different startups over the years (not unlike BCG consultants) to an entrepreneur who may be facing a situation for the first time. Several times a year, there is a deal to be shaped and negotiated which can dramatically change the course of people’s lives. All these parts of the job are extremely rewarding.
HAVE YOU FOUND YOURSELF PUTTING YOUR BCG SKILL SET TO WORK THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER?
Probably more often than I realize. I coach founders on how to construct their pitch decks, as BCG taught me so much about effective presentations. BCG also exposed me to data-backed strategic thinking and reinforced my comfort making decisions under uncertainty. As board members, we act like strategy consultants to the executive teams in many ways. Small startups think strategically more often than large corporations and deal with way more uncertainty, too.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR KEY TAKEAWAYS AFTER YEARS OF TRANSLATING INNOVATIVE IDEAS INTO COMMERCIALLY VIABLE BUSINESSES AND ADVISING YOUR CLIENTS ALONG THE WAY? DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH ANY BUDDING ENTREPRENEURS FROM THE EXTENDED BCG FAMILY?
This is a key takeaway I learned from BCG that translates very well into the startup world, especially where the founder believes they have invented some “platform” or “enabling technology” with many divergent applications. If you can’t say what you don’t do, you don’t have a strategy. Another clue I’d offer a budding entrepreneur is to catch yourself before saying “we don’t have any competitors.” The competitors don’t have to look like your product or have all its attributes. If you solve a problem worth solving, your potential competitors are solving it today, somehow, in some other way. They are ahead of you.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BCG MEMORY?
It would be easy to say “Q training” or “manager training,” when I got to spend time having fun, comparing notes, and learning from my peers around the world. But I also loved the close-knit case team experiences solving hard problems and working to convey sometimes complex concepts with clarity and impact. The truth is, though, that I also really loved chatting with the amazing business staff of case team assistants, graphics professionals, research librarians, and the travel team. Like family, their real support was keeping me grounded and cared-for.