Laura, a Senior Venture Capital Analyst for Healthworx, joined the team in August 2022. Learn more about her background, what she's most excited to work on, and why she joined the team.
Q: Tell us a bit about your background. How did you make it to Healthworx?
A: I was born and raised in Colombia. I came to the U.S. to pursue my undergrad degree at The George Washington University in DC. I earned my bachelor's in economics and international affairs with a concentration in Latin America. From the beginning, I knew I wanted to be at an organization that made a tangible change in the world, which is why I decided to join The World Bank Group after graduating from college.
Growing up in a family of physician entrepreneurs, I had a lot of exposure to the opportunities and challenges surrounding innovating in the healthcare field from an early age. Our dinner conversations were often centered on discussions of the impact healthcare professionals have on their patients’ lives and the incredible difficulties some of their patients had to go through to access care.
Even though I knew I did not want to be a doctor myself, I was always enamored with healthcare innovation. Having learned the powerful vehicle for change that tech can be at the World Bank, I decided to merge my interests in tech, healthcare, and innovation and explore opportunities at this intersection, one of which was with the Venture Capital team at Healthworx.
Q: Why did you choose to work at Healthworx and which experiences were important in your journey here?
A: While I was getting my MBA and MS in Information Systems at the University of Maryland, I made sure all the experiences I had were healthcare focused, including my time with the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps program. That summer, I learned a lot about the healthcare space, best practices on market research, and the path to building a solution that customers actually want or need.
At the same time, my husband was in medical school, and we found ourselves speaking about very similar topics to the ones I had with my family back home. We wanted to share these conversations with other people interested in the field and decided to start a podcast, Health TechTalks, where we speak with innovators at the intersection of healthcare, business, and tech.
I chose to work at Healthworx for three main reasons. First, being the corporate venture and corporate development arm of Carefirst BlueCross BlueShield allows the team and portfolio companies to have access to subject matter experts on the payer and provider side (thanks to their partnership with LifeBridge Health). Second, Healthworx’s strategic presence in the DMV and Baltimore provides them access not only to a diverse population but also geographic proximity to prominent health regulating agencies such as CMS, HHS, and the FDA. This proximity will be helpful as Healthworx seeks to stay at the cutting edge of healthcare innovation. And finally, I was excited to work with the people at Healthworx. Every person I met was extremely smart and industrious, and they also cared deeply about making a positive impact on people’s lives. That spoke volumes to me of the culture at Healthworx, and I knew I wanted to be a part of it.
Q: How do you think your passion and excitement for entrepreneurship and experience with startups lends itself to this role on the other side doing venture capital?
A: My experience in startups in the healthcare industry really helps me understand aspects like financial incentives and viability of business models, which are all key when assessing new players that want to effect change.
Through our podcast, I’ve had the pleasure of building relationships with very impressive founders and really getting to know the level of effort these founders put into their companies in order to succeed. I also recognize that these founders are people who gave up job security in order to pursue an idea they think can revolutionize people’s lives. Being aware of that, coupled with the knowledge I've been able to gain over the past few years, is going be important in building that rapport with the startups in our portfolio and supporting them going forward. It will also serve as a vital asset when identifying new opportunities and knowing what a successful team looks like in terms of grit, passion, and talent
Q: Do you have advice for startups seeking funding in healthcare?
A: The healthcare industry is very different from other industries because whatever you put in the hands of patients, providers or payers can be life changing. Founders pursuing entrepreneurship in healthcare must be extra careful with the solutions they put out because their impact on people's lives can be monumental, and this should not be taken lightly. Investors have become increasingly aware of this and showing a high level of awareness and responsibility is a must.
Q: How does being a woman of color and an immigrant inform how you approach your work?
A: As a Latina, I know what it's like to be part of a group that speaks a different language, and I have seen the impact that cultural and language barriers have when one seeks care. I believe this gives me a unique perspective on the solutions that are being built and how they will impact not only the Latinx community but also other groups of people that historically have not been considered when building these solutions.
Q: On your LinkedIn, you call yourself a health tech enthusiast. Can you tell us what that means to you?
A: The rate at which technology has been used as a vehicle for digital transformation in the healthcare field has been slow compared to other industries. In part, because of the complex nature of healthcare and its highly regulated environment. I am an enthusiast because I believe we are entering a particular era in healthcare technology where we’re truly unlocking the potential that the industry has been exploring for the past decade, and I think the advances and breakthrough innovations that we are starting to see are only the start of a truly generational change in how we use digital tools to help us diagnose, treat, and care for individuals.
Q: How can someone best connect with you?