Kissing frogs along the way

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by Nancy Linenkugel


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How many fairy-tale princesses faced ugly situations that just needed a touch of love to be transformed? For sure, there was the princess in "The Frog Prince." There was also the princess in "Beauty and the Beast." In both fairy tales, the princess had to take a risk before she got to her prize.

That analogy came to mind when I recently heard a guest speaker talk about being a venture capitalist for medical innovations. The presenter has surrounded himself with a cadre of investors who could make dreams come true for a start-up company or who could dash hopes by turning down the opportunity to provide early funding. Picture a health care "Shark Tank" experience.

How does a venture capitalist's organization decide in which start-up to invest? Health care innovations and breakthroughs have higher standards of consideration beyond the usual business model plan. Health care innovations and devices affect people's lives.

The presenter shared real-life examples about investing his group did in start-up ventures that conked out in a few years. While one needs to take the long view to give an innovation time to be used and make a difference, investors are also looking for a return on their investment. The presenter also shared several success stories when the investors' crystal ball worked.

"I don't know how we were successful in many instances," he said. "Of course, we want to get it right all the time and make an investing decision that not only helps get the venture going but also helps people's health and people's lives. But we make errors now and then. I just hope we learn from our mistakes."

[Nancy Linenkugel is a Sylvania Franciscan sister and chair of the department of Health Services Administration at Xavier University, Cincinnati.]