Much like patients and doctors have terrible experiences navigating the US sick care system, entrepreneurs struggle to find seed stage funding. As traditional VC's get bigger and bigger and are less willing and able to invest smaller amounts in higher risk early stage ventures and as companies stay private longer, the gap has been filled with a myriad of funders and platforms, such as single family offices, multi-family offices, mini-VCs, entrepreneur-investor matching sites, super angels, corporate venture groups, hospital system innovation centers and equity crowd funding sites.
Consequently, both entrepreneurs and investors are wasting a lot of time, effort and money finding the right fit. Failed startups or scale ups result and frustration abounds. Much like recently elected politicians, who,once the acceptance speech is over, start raising money for the next election cycle, entrepreneurs start raising money once they create their business entity.
There is a better way to find the right investor interested in the right domain who is willing and able to invest the appropriate amount in the right stage company for the right reasons i.e. revenue, growth or social enterprise.
- We need to educate entrepreneurs about the peculiarities and investment goals of those in the universe of early stage investors.
- We need a directory of early stage investors, including physician investors, clearly defining their interests and investment criteria with rubrics describing benchmarks.
- We need a template that entrepreneurs can use when submitting their ideas for funding to the different categories of investors.
- We need better databases and analytics to help identify which companies in which areas have been funded by which investors and investor classes.
- We need to incorporate AI into the process to help scale the vetting processes.
- We need to continue to refine the equity crowd funding regulations to make it easier for lower net worth individuals to invest in private companies and for the companies to seek follow on investments without having the burden and barriers of "messy" cap tables.
- We need to overcome the barriers that prevent ultra high net worth individuals and family offices from making their interests and availability more transparent.
- We need better platforms to match qualified appropriate companies with qualified appropriate investors.
- We need better private company markets that provide more liquidity for private company shareholders or sales of private company interests.
- We need to help entrepreneurs create a plan to reduce the costs and time required to find money.
The patient experience is painful. The entrepreneurial fundraising experience is painful. With better processes and tools, like eHarmony for entrepreneurs and investors, maybe we can help more physician entrepreneurs in fundraising pain find the capital they need to create products and services to help their patients in pain at less cost.
Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs
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