Healthcare is incredibly diverse — in leadership, teams and patient populations. Everywhere you look in hospitals there are staff and patients from different backgrounds.
But as soon as I walked into my first meetings as a healthtech investor I noticed a stark difference. Both on the investor and founder sides of the table: it is predominately white, male and straight. This is especially true in deep tech, a field in which we do a lot of deals. This is an industry for which you need an elite education (PhD, post-doc, MD etc) and therefore a lot of people are often excluded from this pathway through no fault of their own.
Solutions used in healthcare need to consider the needs of patients from all walks of life, so we need to encourage a greater diversity of thoughts during the inception and funding of these products.
Having a diverse team enhances outcomes and helps question the status-quo. Have you ever asked why are most stock photos of doctors are always old men? Why are the datasets that we train AI models on mainly focused on Caucasian people? Why are digital assistants more often female than male? Why do medical dermatology pictures often omit to show skin lesions on darker skin? Unconscious biases are everywhere and having a diverse team is a useful way to challenge our view of the world.
The saying, “You can’t be what you don’t see” might be a quote worthy of an Instagram influencer but importantly it is true and strikes to the heart of diversity. If you were the first in your family to go to university or if you’re female, LGBT or from an ethnic minority and you don’t see people like yourself in founder teams or in VC teams, you might not believe you can do it. At Crista Galli Ventures we are keen to ask the question: How do we increase diversity in healthtech from both a founder and investor perspective? I am asking this of ourselves too as only a few portfolio companies have non-white or non-male founders. Representation and visibility of under-represented founders is imperative and we will back-up our commitment to creating a more inclusive healthtech industry with capital.
To this end, we have launched Crista Galli LABS.
Crista Galli LABS is a separate investing strand that enables Crista Galli Ventures to invest in pre-seed companies that would otherwise be ‘too early’ for Crista Galli Ventures. At least 50% of the startups that receive Crista Galli LABS investment will be led by outstanding founders from under-represented backgrounds. These companies will receive investment, mentoring and coaching from our team on how to build and scale their company. The goal is to address the imbalance in later-stage healthtech and to help founders from diverse backgrounds go on to raise later-stage funding.