Founders and executives of startup and early-stage healthcare companies seeking funding historically were limited to appeals to Venture Capital firms, Angels, and bootstrapping – struggling to survive by internal growth alone. In many cases, the founders resort to selling their businesses for values well below their potential. Fortunately, their options have increased due to
1. The Emergence of the Impact Investor
The economic devastation from the coronavirus and its evolving variants is a once-in-a-lifetime event that super-charged the nascent trend of individuals and institutions to invest in ventures intended to improve the quality of life. The dollar value of “impact investing” – experienced “remarkable growth over the past ten years, reaching $2.1 trillion in 2020, according to the International Finance Corporation (IFC).[i] Impact investments are investments made to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact with a financial return. The bottom line is that impact investors look to help a business or organization complete a project, develop a new life-saving treatment, or do something positive to benefit society.
2. Exposure of Venture Capital Myths
For years, companies seeking funds avoided the tag of “social responsibility,” afraid that investors would avoid any company whose profit objective is compromised by non-financial returns. Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman ridiculed the idea that business has a “social conscience” and asserted that businessmen who believed such ideas were “unwitting puppets of the intellectual forces that have been undermining the basis of a free society these past decades.” [ii] Consequently, company leaders and investors unwittingly accepted
- Myth #1 that impact investing produces lower financial returns that take years to materialize. A report by McKinsey & Company in 2018 found that investments in socially beneficial organizations produced returns comparable or exceeding those dedicated to profits only. Furthermore, the median holding period before exit (IPO or M&A) was about the same as conventional VC investments.
- Myth #2 – An article in the 1998 Harvard Business Review[iii] challenged the belief that VC funding is the underlying force of invention and innovation in economic systems, finding that only a tiny percentage of VC capital (6%) invested in startups or research and development. A VC’s investment focus is on companies that have proven success and need funds for scaling.
Doing Well by Doing Good
Healthcare — where success is measured in improvements in disease progression and quality of life – is the focus of my firm. We promote Impact investing because the strategy provides an avenue in which people can do well by doing good, i.e., buying the securities of companies that positively affect the health of themselves, their families, and others. From the discovery of bacteria to the first artificial organs, significant medical discoveries have extended the quality and length of humans’ lives. Take a look at some of my clients and how they’re positively impacting the world of health and medicine.
- EyeMarker: developer of non-invasive assessment and tracking devices for traumatic brain injury (TBI) improving the speed, accuracy, and consistency of concussion detection and diagnosis.
- Facible: developer of revolutionary biodiagnostics technology for infectious disease which simplifies the diagnostic testing process while increasing the accuracy of results, empowering patients to better understand their personal health and the quality of products treating their wellness.
- HealthySole: disrupting the infection prevention market with ultraviolet shoe sanitizer technology clinically proven to kill 99.99% of infections, contaminations, and pathogens in only 8 seconds.
- Kurve Therapeutics: provider of compact liquid drug delivery devices significantly enhancing the efficacy and safety of formulations treating Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s LBD, and ALS.
- McGinley Orthopedics: manufacturer of orthopedic surgical devices employing cutting-edge sensing and navigation technology reducing surgical time and cost while improving patient outcomes.
- Medical 21: reshaping the future of cardiac bypass surgery with an artificial graft which eliminates the harvesting of blood vessels, significantly decreasing procedure time and cost as well as the risk of infection, scarring, and pain for patients.
The recently updated JOBS Act of 2017[iv] offers founders of healthcare companies an alternative channel for fundraising to running the gauntlet of impersonal VC managers focused solely on extraordinary growth as quickly as possible. Using a Regulation A+ offering in place of venture capital allows company management to target those investors who believe in the company’s objectives and want to support them. For healthcare companies, the potential investors include the
- doctors who work in the company’s field and know first-hand the impact your solution could have,
- patients who have been affected and their family members and friends, and
- people who support the non-profit organizations around those you help diagnose/treat.
Founders of healthcare companies will find a wide variety of investors eager to help them reach their objectives, according to the Global Impact Investing Network 2020 Annual Impact Investor Survey.[v] Their research estimates the current market size at $715 billion, attracting a wide variety of individual and institutional investors:
- Fund Managers
- Development finance institutions
- Diversified financial institutions/banks
- Private foundations
- Pension funds and insurance companies
- Family Offices
- Individual investors
- Religious institutions
Rather than having one or more VC shareholders anxious to make a profit and move on to the next deal, Regulation A+ offers access to thousands of potential advocates – a legitimate community of people with a shared sense of purpose — for your business.
A Reg A+ offering allows investors to contribute to life-saving research, clinical trials, or tools and technology to assist victims in returning to everyday life, possibly within their families. For example, small biotechs are more likely to invest in research, spending up to 60% of their revenue on R&D.[vi] They account for up to 80% of the total pharmaceutical development pipeline in 2018,[vii] making small companies the driving force behind innovative new therapies, and 64% of all new drugs approved by the FDA in 2018 originated from small pharma.
Founders seeking new funding should ask, “Do I want a group of shareholders that focus solely on my bottom lines or investors who care about our company’s objectives for the full community – patients as well as shareholders?” The question is especially pertinent since an alternative process is available with less hassle, cost, and time. We believe that Regulation A+ offerings should be in the toolbox of every founder, owner, CFO, and Treasurer in the United States. Their use provides excellent upside potential with little downside risk.
[i] Gregory, N. and Volk, A. (2020) GROWING IMPACT New Insights into the Practice of Impact Investing. International Finance Corporation. (June 2020) Access through https://www.ifc.org/wps/wcm/connect/8b8a0e92-6a8d-4df5-9db4-c888888b464e/2020-Growing-Impact.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CVID=naZESt9
[ii] Friedman, M. (1970) A Friedman doctrine‐- The Social Responsibility Of Business Is to Increase Its Profits. New York Times. (September 13, 1970) Accessed through https://www.nytimes.com/1970/09/13/archives/a-friedman-doctrine-the-social-responsibility-of-business-is-to.html
[iii] Zider, B.(1998) How Venture Capital Works. Harvard Business Review. (November-December, 1998) Access through https://hbr.org/1998/11/how-venture-capital-works
[iv] Littman, N. (2021) Healthcare-Focused Impact Investing: Another Way To Invest For Change. Forbes Magazine. (April 28, 2020) Access through https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesfinancecouncil/2021/04/28/healthcare-focused-impact-investing-another-way-to-invest-for-change/?sh=3f4c7f501e5c
[v] Staff. (2021) WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT IMPACT INVESTING. Global Impact Investing Network. (August 25, 2021) Access through https://thegiin.org/impact-investing/need-to-know/
[vi] Coskun, M. (2020) How is R&D spending affecting Biotech company growth? Data-Driven Investor. (May 11, 2020) Access through https://www.datadriveninvestor.com/2020/05/11/how-is-rd-spending-affecting-biotech-company-growth/#
[vii] Kurji, N. (2019) The Future of Pharma: The Role Of Biotech Companies. Forbes Magazine. (May 29, 2019) Access through https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2019/05/29/the-future-of-pharma-the-role-of-biotech-companies/?sh=43d88c5f6bb3