An Interview with Thomas Hawes, BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners

Tom Hawes serves on the Board of Directors of AbleTo, Octave Bio, Oncology Analytics, Patientco, Upward Health, and Verata as well as board observer for HeartFlow, Healthify, Phreesia, and Thrive Science. He was formerly on the Board of InVivoLink, Nexidia, and Wellspring Healthcare. Before joining Sandbox, Tom matched at Yale School of Medicine for residency and completed his first year of medical training at Greenwich Hospital. Read his full bio.

Interview with Thomas Hawes, BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners

Q: What were the key investment criteria that led you to invest in the clinical diagnostics startups in your portfolio?

A: We look for companies that can help improve the quality of care that is delivered while ideally creating a better individual experience and driving the overall cost of care down. We like to invest in companies that are close to, or have received regulatory approval and that are looking to work with the BlueCross BlueShield plans and providers in their networks.

Q: 2019 is on track for record number of health care startup deals. You have been investing for over ten years. How has the market changed over that period?

A: Simply put, volume. The amount of capital and the number of individuals and teams working on solving challenges in the healthcare industry has grown incredibly quickly. Given the cost to develop new technology continues to decrease, the appetite for new and better ways to care for people is increasing, and the amount of capital available for healthcare entrepreneurs is at an all-time high, there has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur than now.

Q: What advice can you give an entrepreneur working on a lab service or a technology startup?

A: First, consider how the new technology or service will not only solve the initial problem that you are trying to solve, but think through and quantify the clinical and economic downstream effects of introducing the new product or service. This can help clarify whether or not the innovation is worth pursuing and who will realize the value created by the innovation. Second, as the value proposition for the new product or service is refined, look for potential partners that can help get the product to market. The healthcare industry is great but it is difficult to drive change without help from some of the players in the market (i.e. providers, payers, pharma, etc.).