Soo Jeon never thought she had a career in healthcare, until she followed her instinct to try.
As the new co-lead for 1501 Health, we asked Soo to give us all the details on how she found her way into the healthcare industry, what excites her about 1501 Health, and the advice she has for startup founders.
Q: How did you hear about 1501 Health, and what inspired you to apply?
Searching for my next opportunity, I was certain that I wanted to work with early-stage startups and work with a team that had a holistic approach to early-stage investing.
I was very intentional about finding my “perfect fit” and after stumbling onto the Healthworx website and learning about 1501 Health through the 1501 Health program video, I was inspired by the work that co-managers Emily Durfee and Jordan Evans were accomplishing in Baltimore and beyond. This really resonated with me because healthcare has always been a personal interest of mine, and I thought it was even more significant because this work is based in Baltimore, where I grew up.
Q: Small world! What projects are you looking forward to working on for the 1501 Health team?
I'm excited to broaden our impact for our cohort companies who are challenging traditional norms in healthcare.
I’m looking forward to expanding our circle of entrepreneurs, advisors, and cabinet leads, while focusing on our big picture strategy to introduce new offerings that will add value to our founder-focused program.
Q: Are there any specific healthcare sectors that excite you?
What I appreciate about 1501 Health is that we attract a wide net of entrepreneurs who focus on a variety of solutions that all connect back to affordable, accessible care for diverse patient populations.
Personally, I'm very interested in complimentary alternative medicine, because I believe – and have found in my own life – that holistic health can have such a huge impact on how we care for our bodies. One of our previous cohort companies, WellSet , is a great example of this concept, as it offers curated on-demand holistic health classes for employees.
Q: Why do you think it's important for the venture capital space to be focused on impact versus profits?
The venture capital space shouldn’t be exclusive to investing in profits. Impact and profits can and should coexist.
Another layer to this concept is representation. Having a diversity of ideas across our entrepreneurs and investors allows us to get a 360-degree view for every community we serve.
Q: And do you feel the 1501 Health program fills the gaps in healthcare for underrepresented groups?
A thousand percent. Supporting underrepresented groups is a priority for our team.
Looking at our second round of cohort companies, the majority – 6 of 7 – are founded by women.
Q: What experiences have prepared you for this role?
Most recently, I was an Investment Fellow for the Material Change Institute, a non-profit that empowers underrepresented investors to advance their careers.
This was an amazing starting point to cultivate myself as an investor that looks further than just profits.
Before joining the Material Change Institute, I lived in Beijing, China for a few years where I founded Pangyou, a knowledge-sharing platform that helped university students all over the world improve their foreign language skills.
I never thought I had a career in healthcare innovation, but these experiences gave me insight that I could.
At 1501 Health, I’m able to continue my education in the investment world and engage with early-stage startup founders.
Q: Given your background as a founder, do you have any advice to share with entrepreneurs in healthcare?
First off, every founder should know that even just trying is unbelievable. It’s so brave, daring, and respectable to combat a huge problem. Taking a little healthy risk is necessary to succeed.
That’s why I'm in this program. To encourage entrepreneurs to continue pushing boundaries and ask daring questions, because there's potential and space for all.
Every startup founder know that every day is a new game but having the right expert and peer mentors by your side can make all the difference, much like the dynamic within the 1501 Health ecosystem.
Q: How can someone best connect with you?
You can follow me on LinkedIn, or send me an e-mail at Soo.Jeon@carefirst.com.