Meet Kent Lehr, head of UnityPoint Health Ventures

Steven Loeb · June 17, 2019 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/4e2b

Lehr is VP of strategy and business development at UnityPoint Health

Venture capital used to be a cottage industry, with very few investing in tomorrow's products and services. Oh, how times have changed!

While there are more startups than ever, there's also more money chasing them. In this series, we look at the new (or relatively new) VCs in the early stages: seed and Series A.

But just who are these funds and venture capitalists that run them? What kinds of investments do they like making, and how do they see themselves in the VC landscape?

We're highlighting key members of the community to find out.

Kent Lehr is VP of strategy and business development at UnityPoint Health Ventures, where he leads the company's new Innovation Fund

Lehr became Vice President of Strategy and Business Development for UnityPoint Health in January 2017. In this role, he leads the formation and deployment of system strategy, growth, innovation, business development and project management efforts. Kent previously led the strategy and business development for UPH’s Ambulatory Enterprise, driving synergy between system and clinic efforts. Lehr is a fellow in the Health Management Academy and was recognized as a Rising Star in Healthcare in 2017 by Becker’s Hospital Review.

He began his career at UnityPoint Health in 2010 as an Administrative Fellow. Prior to joining the organization, he completed his bachelor’s in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Cornell College, and then his master’s of health administration and a masters of business administration at the University of Iowa.

VatorNews: What is your investment philosophy or methodology?

Kent Lehr: Through intentional partnerships, we’ll pair our clinical and operational leaders with industry entrepreneurs to learn the best ways to test and scale solutions that seek to lower the cost of health care, as well as help people live a healthy life. This allows us to dramatically accelerate the growth of our portfolio companies. Most importantly, it positions UnityPoint Health to identify the health care solutions our people want—and need.

VN: What are your categories of interest?

KL: We invest in digital health, medical devices, therapeutics spaces and healthcare services.

VN: What's the big macro trend you're betting on?

KL: Healthcare continues to be fertile ground for disruption in pursuit of easier, more personal solutions for patients and providers. We also think greater value and digital and technology proliferation supporting care delivery will go a long way.

VN: What is the size of your current fund and how many investments do you typically make in a year?

KL: Our current fund is $100 million. We don’t have a set number of investments, but if the opportunities are right, we expect to be making three to seven investments annually.

VN: What stage/series do you invest in and how much is that in dollar amount for you?

KL: We invest in A and B rounds and we typically do $1 to $5 million per investment.

VN: What kind of traction does a startup need for you to invest? Do you have any specific numbers?

KL: It really depends on the size of the raise and category it is in. For example, a series A for a digital company looks a lot different than a series B for a medical device company.

VN: What other signals do you look for? Team, product, macro market?

KL: We ask ourselves three questions. One, do we believe in and trust the management team? Two, do we believe in and trust their product/service such that we will use it? Three, do we believe we can help them develop and validate their product/service such that others will find it valuable? Our answers to these play an important role in determining whether or not a company is the right fit.

VN: What do you think about valuations these days? What's a typical Seed pre-money valuation and Series A?

KL: Valuations today are all over the board. For us, it really depends on the size of the raise and category it is in. For example, a series A for a digital company looks a lot different than a series B for a medical device company.

VN: There are many venture funds out there today, how do you differentiate yourself to limited partners?

KL: We’re committed to investing in ideas and partners that provide an easier, more personal experience for our patients and providers. We bring more than funding to the table. We bring a healthcare platform that includes the full continuum of services, across three states and millions of patients’ interactions annually. We can help develop and validate products and services for companies looking to scale their solutions. This is intangible value others cannot deliver.

VN: Venture is a two-way street, where investors also have to pitch themselves. How do you differentiate your fund to entrepreneurs?

KL: We’re committed to investing in ideas and partners that provide an easier, more personal experience for our patients and providers. We bring more than funding to the table. We bring a healthcare platform that includes the full continuum of services, across three states and millions of patients’ interactions annually. We can help develop and validate products and services for companies looking to scale their solutions. This is intangible value others cannot deliver.

VN: What are some of the investments you’ve made that you're super excited about? Why did you want to invest in those companies?

KL: Although we only just recently launched our fund, I’m happy to report we’ve been making great progress thus far. We plan to announce our first few investments soon. Stay tuned!

VN: What are some lessons you learned?

KL: Even though we just recently launched, we’re thrilled about the growth and progress thus far. We have more work to do, but we’re excited about what the future holds and are passionate about identifying the health care solutions our people want—and need.

VN: What excites you the most about your position as VC?

KL: What excites me most is beyond VC; it’s the platform we are building within an integrated delivery system that can bring the best of external solutions and pair them with our internal teams and ideas to drive demonstrable improvements for the patients and consumers we serve. We are strategically identifying companies based on their products, services and leadership expertise to work with to improve how we interface with consumers, take care of patients, create a better all-around experience. The VC piece is simply a vehicle for us to do that important work.

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