Investing in Healthcare Moonshots — Vinod Khosla, Khosla Ventures
Vinod Khosla, known to many as a businessman and technologist as well as the founder of Khosla Ventures, recently held a talk at the StartUp Health Festival, where he outlined his goals, ideas, his future plans, and what he attributes his success to. As both an entrepreneur and someone active in the medical field, he has a unique perspective that I believe many could profit from hearing.
For Mr. Khosla, there are two kinds of healthcare investors. There are those who want to know what billing codes are, and those who are interested in how something works with pre-existing systems. For him, money is a bonus, not the end goal. He wants to do new things with old systems, see things from a different angle and change how the system works and make it work better. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but mistakes are important to make. You learn more from mistakes than victories, since they make you ask questions you might not think of otherwise and show you what doesn’t work.
In fact, some of his favourite business partners to work were initially quite naïve about the healthcare system and how it works, which allowed them to see it from the outside and see issues those inside missed or perhaps even accepted as part of their daily life. He believes that the dream combination in a business partner is someone with passion and a lack of prejudice paired with someone with experience of how the system works and what kind of issues their startups could face, be they financial or otherwise.
He believes in the importance of new perspectives, mentioning how Youtube and Amazon forced modern media and business to change, while the old guard of NBC or Wal-Mart were more than content to rest on their laurels. Trying to do something new and radically different while working within the confines of what came before forces you to innovate. Genuine innovation has always come from outside forces and ideas.
The ability to tell stories is one of the most important skills any entrepreneur can have. You cannot convince anyone to support anything unless you have good communication skills. You cannot sell anything if you can’t tell a good story, whether it be about yourself or your company.
Finally, be aware of your finances:. If you have unlimited funds (or close to it), then you can run with that with a great degree of security. If your funds are tighter, then every $10,000 is valuable and you have to do more with less. When you’re forced to plan more carefully, then: “you’re likely to build a much better plan with less money.”
You can watch the whole thing here, which I would highly recommend.
Raji Kalra is Co-founder and CEO at Peopletail, one Canada’s fastest growing product review communities.