Ronald Pion, M.D., has been on both sides of the venture capital equation, first as an accomplished physician entrepreneur and now as healthcare advisor to Lido Capital Holdings, an Irvine, Calif., financial consulting firm that finds investors for emerging companies.
"People are looking for humongous returns on their money if they're available, or they're looking for solutions," says Pion, an OB/GYN who has spent his career looking for new ways to involve patients in the care process.
There is a formula for physicians to get the attention of a healthcare-attuned VC, he says. "Any investor who understands that there are problems with medicine and sees a passionate entrepreneur will get interested."
Pion himself had a passion about the power of telecommunications in healthcare and got funding for the Hospital Satellite Network to deliver television programs to healthcare workers and patients. Later, he founded Medical Telecommunications Associates and MDtel.com, a physician/patient Web portal for home care and long-term care.
Now, he says, "My interest is in a company that raises the bar on quality."
"I get excited about companies that are small," he explains. "I only look at companies that offer better outcomes for patients someday, better evidence-based literature someday," something that "looks outside the hospital into patients' homes."
Not every good concept needs to become a business, Pion says. Often, he recommends that clients market their intellectual property instead of finding someone to bankroll a new enterprise.
"I think too many people start companies rather than license an idea," Pion says. "Don't start a company if you have an idea but don't know where you want to go with it."