Investor War Stories: A Health App Goes Awry

Ryan Black
MARCH 06, 2018


Like it or not, venture capital is the lifeblood of the health IT industry. Sometimes investments go well, sometimes they do not.

At the annual HIMSS meeting this year in Las Vegas, Healthcare Analytics News™ is asking venture capitalists to tell us some of their “war stories” from the investment field. In this first installment, 7wire Ventures co-founder Lee Shapiro detailed a time where a patient engagement app took a left turn and ended up becoming a vegan restaurant finder.

Lee Shapiro: A Health App Goes Awry

One of the things you learn about how you make a small fortune in venture is that you start with a large fortune and then you make bad decisions about your investments.

So as the old joke goes, we found a company that we invested in, and we met with the founding team and it was a group of really young and energetic entrepreneurs and they told us what it was they wanted to accomplish, and we went in and we met with them we saw the team.

They said “This is what we're going to go build,” and we came back to meet with them again about a month or 2 later and they were so excited to show us what they built. And it was totally different than what they said they were going to build.

They came to this conclusion, they said, “Well, you know, people really need this very interesting restaurant finder and we think that that could be really good for their health.” And we said, “Well, it's wonderful that you think that you can help give people guidance on where they can go to eat, but like, what we were going to do was something that was going to better connect individuals to understand a little bit more about their health.”
 
They said, “Let us go back to work on it,” and then they came back again and said, “We took what you said and we really heard you we really listened. And so what we decided to do was focus narrowly on certain types of restaurants, and so now we're going to go to the market, we're going to see if anybody's looking for vegan restaurants wherever they are.”

So we said, “You know what, this sounds like a wonderful idea for you to pursue. How much money is left in the bank account? Let's make a distribution and let's shake hands as friends, you should really go off and pursue this.”

For all I know they're still out there developing. We lost a little bit of money, but at least we didn't keep funding and try to convince them to do something different.

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