EP40 Helping Create a Lasting Impact on Society by Supporting Innovative FoundersCheckable Health
If you're a first-time founder of a startup, then you know how hard and complicated it can be to secure capital and get your business going. From hiring the perfect staff to filing legal documents and strategizing, most entrepreneurs lack a good source of support for understanding topics like these.
One new fund offering this type of guidance is Tundra Ventures, and one of its managing partners, Adam Choe, is on this episode of The Persevere Podcast. Adam has been coaching entrepreneurs and investing in startups using proven methods to build ultimate success. Listen to Choe as he shares how Tundra Ventures is filling in the gaps of early-stage investing, finding passionate investments, and helping investors in the most volatile stage of the startup process. Choe shares his knowledge on how to ride the bumps along the road to a startup.
Adam also discusses with Patty Post of Checkable the shift to customer-centric values in healthcare and the frustrations of investing in the healthcare market. Tune in to learn more about Tundra Ventures and hear Adam and Patty's hopes for the future of healthcare innovation!
Topics discussed in this episode:
- What makes Tundra Ventures unique
- Mistakes Patty made in the beginning of her startup
- What Adam looks for in a founder
- Writing the first check
- What industries is Tundra focusing on?
- Tundra’s early investments
- Adam’s history with Patty
- Making changes in the healthcare field
- Problems with investments in healthcare
- What Adam has learned from starting a fund
Connect with Persevere Podcast:
Find Patty Post:
This episode was Post Produced by Podcast Boutique http://podcastboutique.com
0:00:03.1 S2: Welcome to the Persevere Podcast powered by Checkable Medical and hosted by Patty Post, a female founder, entrepreneur, wife, and mother of three doing all of the things. The strength to persevere in business is powered by passion, grit, and hard work. The Persevere Podcast is for entrepreneurs and business leaders who set out to innovate and change the world with their ideas. Whether it's fundraising your startup, product development, marketing, branding or scaling your existing business, this podcast is for you. We'll discuss everything it takes to persevere and build the business you've always dreamed of.
0:00:44.6 S1: Let's make it happen. Welcome to the Persevere Podcast. We help founders create awesome products and help you not run out of money. Hello, I'm Patty Post, founder and CEO of Checkable Health. And I started this podcast because I was experiencing loneliness and solitude as a solo founder. And I literally had no one to turn to. And I also couldn't find relevant content that founders of high-tech startups really needed. So like the true entrepreneur that I am, I decided to do it myself. And thus was born the Persevere Podcast. So if you're new to this podcast, I love to interview entrepreneurs and hear about their stories of how they built their business. I love to hear how they persevered through those challenging times and the lessons that they learned. If this is the first time that you're listening, or if you're a regular guest, I would really appreciate a five-star rating as well as subscribing to this podcast. And I hope you're inspired by this story and let's get into it. Adam Choe, I'm so glad to see you.
0:01:56.1 S2: Yeah, likewise. I think we were talking about earlier, it's probably been close to two-plus years since we've had a chance to chat and you've done a lot in the last two years. So, excited to catch up.
0:02:07.6 S1: And I see you on LinkedIn. I mean, like, I feel like that's all my friends from Minneapolis. I just keep up with you guys on LinkedIn.
0:02:15.8 S2: Yeah, you know, I think I spent about a year and a half living under a rock during COVID, building the company, had some family health stuff that took care of too. And when I came back to start Tundra Ventures with Danielle and Amanda, I decided that I needed to get my online presence back online. So I've been doing a little bit there. A primary goal I think is just to build network for people, you know, help leverage my network for others and vice versa. So excited to kind of start rolling more content out on LinkedIn about startups.
0:02:50.7 S1: Oh, and we need it. I feel like it's an underrepresented market that people aren't talking about startup life enough. And it's, we talk about like, mid-cap and strategics. And but when it's talking about the scrappy stuff, the hard stuff, it's a little passed over. So is that what, tell me about Tundra Ventures. What's your, why'd you start it and what are you guys looking at with it?
0:03:16.6 S2: Yeah, I think for the three of us, we've always felt as though that there's so much untapped potential from a founder perspective, but also from a geography perspective and also from an end-user perspective. And so when we came to start the fund, that's kind of where we wanted to focus our attentions. So we're an early-stage fund. We invest when your aunts, uncles, friends, relatives might want to invest, but we also want to be there to provide accelerator guidance and coaching. So the three of us all have startup accelerator backgrounds. We've been running accelerator cohorts for the last five-plus years. And so it's not just the check that we're writing, we're trying to support founders at the early stage. Patty, as you probably can imagine and have experienced yourself and you've probably seen founders, 80% of the issues that founders come across are universal founder problems, not necessarily specific problems to any one given industry. And so a lot of the messy stuff about early company creation is just kind of playing the part and the table stakes of it all. And I think that's where Tundra really shines from helping you with your hiring, helping you with your legal docs, helping you with strategy, helping you with introductions, that kind of stuff.
0:04:34.1 S2: So that's kind of how we started. We felt there was still a pretty big gap in that sector of early, early-stage investing. There's a lot of early-stage investors, but I think not at the stage that we want to play at.
0:04:49.2 S1: Not early enough. And that's when a lot of ideas end up fizzling out and everyone thinks they'll get to revenue really fast, but then you hit bumps in the road and who do you talk to when those bumps in the road happen? It's not a lot of people that have this experience of the... I always thought that, or I still think the legalities that come with a startup are the most risky and they throw you so far off track if you get it wrong. But you can't always talk to an attorney, they're expensive. So tell us about that when you... What is it like setting up the cap table? What kind of things are you helping them navigate?
0:05:29.0 S2: Yeah, so we're very fortunate in the sense that first and foremost, Amanda is an attorney and she focuses on early-stage businesses. So I think that's a huge benefit that we offer founders is the ability to ask somebody that isn't going to charge you billable hours. We're not in a position to give straight legal advice directly into the company, but what we can do is help advise them, give them 80% of an answer. So they only need to go to their formal attorney for the last 20%. So what might've taken two hours of time, maybe they can get an answer in a 15-minute billable session instead of a two-hour billable session, right? Because attorneys charge in 15-minute increments. So you want to make sure you're using your dollars wisely. I think second of all, all three of us have been in the weeds of building our own organizations and so have gone through a lot of those legal hurdles personally. So whether it's our own personal experiences or maybe we already have a rough outline of a document that they can use as a foundation or the fact that I think collectively we worked with over a hundred companies in an accelerator model and we've just seen a lot of different issues come up that founders might not be aware of or realize that are on the horizon for them.
0:06:43.1 S2: So maybe even helping them avoid some of those potential pitfalls before they come up.
0:06:47.9 S1: If you listen to my first five episodes of the Persevere Podcast, it is all about this kind of stuff because I couldn't access any of these resources and I made so many mistakes and not to say I'm not going to make mistakes in the future, but it's like, I specifically remember an attorney talking to me about a vesting schedule and how important it is to have a vesting schedule for, I'm the founder and if I'm going to have anyone come in, I need to first have that agreement set up and we know what the terms are. And I was like, oh, whatever. This is such a great relationship. It's going to last forever. And it turns out like seven months later, here I am, no vesting schedule and I just gave 5% of my company upfront. And what was I thinking? Now I look back, I'm like, who was that girl? Why didn't she listen when the attorney was telling her that there needs to be a vesting schedule? But sometimes we have so much, you and I both are dreamers, right? And we're like, it's okay, let's just get it done. We're optimists. And is this just us or do other founders have these types of things?
0:08:01.4 S2: Yeah. So I definitely do think it's the optimistic side where you don't really want to focus on the what could go wrong aspects of running a business, which is why I think having an attorney that can highlight those things for you is important. You also want to find an attorney that's realistic too, right? You could find an attorney that tells you all the doomsday scenarios and you'd be paralyzed by fear and never get anything done. But the really, really good attorneys are the ones that can interpret in the gray area. But to your point, I do think a lot of founders go through this and it's for probably a few reasons. One being, you don't know that there's something you need to be worried about, so you don't worry about it, right? It's like the ignorance aspect of being a young kid. You don't know that the pot is hot, so you touch it and you burn yourself, right? But I also think from the aspect of there's only so much time in a day, there's only so much attention span in the human brain. And oftentimes some of these things that end up becoming big issues just get pushed down the priority list.
0:09:00.8 S2: And so what you might be concerned about in terms of equity and cap tables is probably like a top-ten issue for you, but it's probably number eight or nine on your priority list because you're trying to raise money, you're trying to find customers, you're working on R&D, you're hiring. And so I can see why these things kind of sneak up on people over time is because it is important to them, but other priorities take over. So I don't think it's something that any founder is immune to, which is why I think a lot of investors are very much drawn to second-time founders, right? Because they know they're going to get a premium on that founder because they've made those mistakes and hopefully aren't going to make those same mistakes the second time around.
0:09:38.5 S1: So you being on a founder's cap table when they, if you're going to be cutting early checks, what a great thing for other investors coming in to see Tundra Ventures on their cap table because of the accelerator, because of you are founders yourselves, and because Amanda is an attorney. That's so cool, Adam. Congratulations.
0:10:02.7 S2: Yeah. Well, we're in the process of proving that this model works and that this team can succeed. I think we have the perfect blend of optimism, skepticism, and pragmatism on the team. Amanda jokes and says she's there to kind of tamper my fire when I get over excited and make promises that maybe I shouldn't be making. Danielle is also very much an optimist and can see the best in everything and has huge visions for the future. And then I try my best to be even keeled, but I've always been founder-first. And I think the three of us have always been founder-first. And that really does shine through when we get to meet potential investments. Some of the biggest things that potential LPs ask us is, what's your track record? How are you competitive against other investors? And what value are you bringing in? Fundamentally, we just feel as though that we're so empathetic to the founders that it's hard to put a definition on the value we bring. But founder to founder, you kind of just understand when you meet someone that speaks your language.
0:11:08.4 S1: Oh, yeah. It's like kindred spirits, right?
0:11:11.9 S2: Yeah. I think I ask a different set of questions in a first-time meeting than maybe like a more downstream investor might ask. I'm less concerned about metrics in that first meeting. I'm more concerned about, could we work together for 10 years? So tell me you're excited. Tell me that you're working on something that's impactful. And tell me that you're going to wake up every day and when you ask yourself, the first question I always ask myself when I did Yonder was, is this really what I want to do for the next five, 10 years? And it always came back yes, right? Now obviously, COVID played a part in sidelining that dream. But up until during the pre-pandemic building of the company, that was always the first question I asked myself. Is this what I want to do? And it came back yes. And I think it's very not easy, but it's very important to discern that level of passion and commitment from an early-stage founder if you're an early-stage investor.
0:12:09.4 S1: Do you think that from an early-stage investor, do you want your founders to be 100% committed to the company?
0:12:17.5 S2: You mean from a time perspective of not having a second job or whatever like that? Yeah. That's a very tough one, right? Because I think oftentimes, your ability to commit full time comes from a place of privilege. You have the foundation in place where you can take a risk very quickly. I don't think that's the most logical scenario in today's day and age. There's too much uncertainty. There's too much that's not in your control. It's expensive to just survive. And so I believe that there should be 100% at least passion or at least commitment to commit in the future. But would I invest in a founder that isn't fully committed? Probably not. Would I invest my time in a founder that's not fully committed yet? Absolutely. With the intent that when they are ready to jump, we'd be one of the first people to consider investing in them at that time. I do think that's fair. If you're going to take on venture capital dollars, you should jump full time. But until that point, I think it's fair for you to say, look, I'm not ready to make that commitment. So if I'm meeting a founder and they say, I work at a big box Fortune 500 to pay my bills and bootstrap, I totally get it.
0:13:30.5 S2: I did the same thing. I worked at Generator as a managing director, and then I worked nights and weekends and holidays on the startup. That makes complete sense to me. It's a rational perspective because the part they don't talk about in the headlines from the glamorous hustle culture stuff from startup life is it's easy to tell someone else to jump. It's a lot harder when it's yourself doing it. And financial security, if that means you work a day job, so you have the security, so you're not stressed about how you're going to survive, that might be the difference between you moving a company forward incrementally, as opposed to just completely giving up on it because you were just too stressed and said, I can't do this. So every situation is different. But I think to answer your question, making a long answer longer is if I met a founder and they were still at a nine-to-five, that's not a detriment. But I think they need to understand how to answer that question about what their plan is. Having a plan is different than saying, I'm not sure. There's two different ways to approach that.
0:14:30.4 S2: So every person will have a different answer, but I think it's not a deal breaker.
0:14:36.0 S1: Yeah. On your product roadmap, you can even say at this point, I'm going to raise this amount of money and then I'm going to go full time. I'm going to have skin in the game, put my own money in, whatever that is. But to answer that question, you need to be thought out of it. I'm not going to work my corporate job this whole time and then expect to exit the company. I always thought once I took on other people's money, I'm like, okay, this is real. I've got to give the commitment 100% because I'm taking that angel round, friends and family money. And they don't want to just support a lifestyle or just support R&D that's going to go nowhere. They want to see this come to fruition. Right?
0:15:23.7 S2: Right. Right. I think that's a fair compromise. The moment you're taking other people's money, you're making an official promise and you have a fiduciary responsibility to try to fulfill whatever you promised them with that. Again, nothing's stopping you. But the space is so small that if you don't do it and people think that you were disingenuous, you probably don't get to do it again. It's very self-regulating. Someone once asked me, aren't you concerned about this? And I say, well, yeah, there's always inherent risk when you invest in somebody. But that's why you make a lot of bets as a VC at our stage and the portfolio construction that we have, because we know that some of them aren't going to work out the way we envisioned them. But at the same time, those founders need to realize that it's a small world and word travels fast. So it's self-regulating in a lot of ways, which is important because you don't want a bunch of people running around making false promises, taking money and then creating a bunch of…leaving lasting bad taste in people's mouths. Maybe it's the first-time angel investor. And so part of what we're doing is we're trying to be that first stage gate for other angels.
0:16:33.7 S2: We can tell them, we've done a lot of due diligence. We've met this founder multiple times. We feel good about it. We're going to invest, signal and tell them that maybe they want to do a $10,000 investment, but they weren't sure where they wanted to put it. And so this is just another resource hopefully for the Midwest in terms of there's another early-stage investment fund that's willing to put checks out at the stage where companies are still figuring out who they actually are potentially.
0:17:01.0 S1: So what size checks are you going to be expecting to write?
0:17:04.4 S2: Yeah, most likely the first checks that we'll write is $100,000, but also the round size that we're pursuing in terms of investment deals are most likely going to be people raising $300,000 to maybe $700,000. It could be a pretty big chunk of that raise, or it could be just the follow on. If we were to lead around, we probably offer 150 to 250. But the real goal that we have is placing 35 to 40 investments out there and then really trying to figure out which of those we want to double and triple down on in terms of follow-on investment. So getting the best of both worlds, one being we want to act as an angel investor would, where they have a lot of shots on goal, but also getting a little bit of the perks of maybe a more downstream investor would get of being able to invest in companies that are more fleshed out. And the added benefit for us being if we know they're more fleshed out because we've been working with those founders for 12, 18, 24 months, we're even more comfortable placing that extra capital to work in that company.
0:18:03.2 S1: And that's not to say that the other 30 companies don't warrant it. But oftentimes, as you know, timing is everything. When we have capital to invest and they're ready to take investment plays a big part in that, too. So it's a moving target. But we feel as though this gives us the best opportunity to do two things, support early-stage high-potential opportunities, but also give our investors the best chance at an ROI, risk investing in the most volatile stage of startups. Yes, it is volatile. Well, we both come from healthcare. Are you primarily focused on healthcare or are you going across the board investing?
0:18:45.4 S2: So the three of us bring different skill sets. Amanda has more of a CPG background. Obviously for me, it's health. And then the background that we all feel very good about is tech broadly speaking. So that's kind of the three verticals we play in. I would say my focus is going to be on the healthcare side. We're probably avoiding Class II and Class III medical devices from the perspective of we're not going to go and lead due diligence on a Class II or III med device. Now if an investor group that we know or an investor that we know is leading around or is interested in a deal and they put it in front of us, we'll consider it. But we're not going out there signaling to the market if you're Class II or III come to us first. We might be a good strategic follow-on investment, but definitely not one in that regard. But everything else in health is fair game. And the same goes for pharma. We probably won't touch pharma because we just don't have the skills or the checkbook size to really make an impact there. And so everything else, healthcare, SaaS, wellness, mental health, Class I, all that stuff is on the table.
0:19:49.4 S2: Very cool. So digital health. Sure. Are you going to go to VIVE next year? I don't know if I have too many major conferences on my calendar yet. I kind of want to use this, I guess technically next year is really our first big year of just being able to write checks and focus on recruitment. But I'm definitely open to considering it. If you've got good recommendations on it, I'll check it out.
0:20:15.9 S1: Yeah. Okay. So we should do it and then let's do a founders meetup. Okay. Because I think it's a great conference. It's the same group that puts on HLTH. Okay. And it's digital health focused. So for me, it wasn't as relevant in terms of it was more like hospital IT and SaaS that I'm not direct to consumer, but I think it's still on the same, I'm regulated with HIPAA. There's a lot of really rich information that I was able to take from it and great connections. There's great investment community and startups that go there.
0:20:54.7 S2: Got it. So that's kind of my list of things to explore this weekend. Yes.
0:20:59.7 S1: So have you made your first investment?
0:21:02.9 S2: So we've been very fortunate to have an early group of limited partners that gave us their investment all upfront at the very beginning. So it allowed us to warehouse our capital and make investments while we were fundraising. So the catch-22 of early-emerging manager funds is you're based on your track record and that track record unlocks investment in a lot of ways. And so if you don't have a traditional venture capital background, you don't have the track record. And so it's like what comes first, chicken or the egg? In a similar way, we went out there and said, we don't have a portfolio of investments. So our earliest investors gave us their money so we could then go out and source five deals. So we've done eight deals so far. So basically we raise money and invest in parallel. So raise a little bit of money, deploy, raise a little bit of money, deploy. Hopefully soon in the not-too-distant future, we have enough dry powder where we can focus more just 100% on startup sourcing and then less time on chasing down potential investors. But this first 12 months, we knew that this was going to be pursuing both aspects of the fund at the same time.
0:22:19.8 S2: So we made eight investments. Of those eight, one's healthcare, three are fintech, one's in the gaming sector. And then, oh man, a couple of them are just one CPG and then another CPG company that we're currently in the final stages of due diligence with. So I've been busy, but it's been fun. So we're hopeful that we can get to nine or 10 investments by the end of this year and then turn into the new year, close some more investors and then go from there to just see what kind of startups are here in our backyard. Backyard being Midwest, of course, and then coast to coast to somehow founders seem to find our random investment fund somehow. I don't know, they have an innate sixth sense of who's got money to deploy.
0:23:07.4 S1: That is, well, yeah, I mean, you sniff it out, you see one LinkedIn post and you're like, I'm going after that. I gotta introduce myself to those guys. Well, I'm so proud of you. Congratulations. That's really, really a big thing. You are like making a difference in people's lives and changing the world as we know it by now going on the investment side.
0:23:30.4 S2: I think, shout out to you, I think we met back when I was at the University of Minnesota's Innovation Fellows Program. Similar to Stanford's program for people that don't know. Stanford has a bio-design program. The U of M here in Minnesota also has a similar program where they cram four to eight individuals in a basement at one of the university buildings and they tell you to go work on problems in healthcare. And you were one of the speakers, I think, during that. And ever since then, even during my time at Generator, you've been so helpful and it made it very clear seeing how you operated that, how important that work was early on in my startup career. So I appreciate you being a part of that. I was excited to jump on Frank's podcast earlier this month and now jumping on yours. It's kind of like a reunion tour in a lot of ways. So I'm excited to see where Checkable goes into the future, especially with the way the world is today. So I think you're at the right place, right time. So I'm super excited to see you on store shelves everywhere, if that's the route you're going, I'm not even sure these days.
0:24:38.1 S2: Oh yeah, we're October 2023. That's my national retail pursuit. That's when we want to get out there. So I'm tracking with you on that, Adam. Well when it's out there, let me know because I know plenty of people with little ones and maybe I got little ones in my future.
0:24:54.6 S1: By the time your product's on the shelf, who knows? But point being, I think people want to spend less time at the hospitals and the primary cares and more time at home with their loved ones. So I think it's the right move to make. So it's super exciting. Totally. We did a, I appreciate you saying that, we did a survey of 502 respondents and 78% of them were like, yes, I would buy this. They were enthusiastic. I mean, it was much bigger, we had a ton of questions, but the other piece, the number-one reason why they don't want to go into the clinic is exposure.
0:25:30.1 S2: And then it comes to convenience and then price, which I was very surprised about because I think that all comes from COVID. You don't want to be exposed to more diseases and bacterial viral infections. Yeah. When my mom was going through her treatment, one of the biggest eye-opening experiences for me was I acted as her primary caregiver and just the amount of time we spent sitting and waiting around for updates, to talk to the nurse or the doctor, or waiting for the drugs to be ready or them running behind from a prior visit, the hours added up. If I were to go back and think about all the different visits, I'd say, well, over 40 hours just waiting around. And I think while your primary reason that people in your survey probably told you was exposure, I guarantee you if they were sitting in that room, they probably would be rolling their eyes about how long they're waiting around for service. Yeah. And you think about a traffic jam, right? Studies are that if you got rid of 20% of cars, you'd get rid of 80% of traffic. I think that's the rule of thumb.
0:26:35.1 S2: Now imagine the same scenario in a clinical setting where you remove 10 extra ear-infection visits a week or a day. I don't know how many come in, but point being, it frees up the doctor and the nurses and the clinic's time to focus on more pressing issues. Not that an ear infection isn't pressing, but oftentimes it's more about getting diagnosed and validated and then getting the medication, right? Or the plan of a recovery. So I can see this model being way more impactful in terms of efficiencies for clinical settings too. So I'm sure you've already explored that. But when I learned about what you were doing, that made a lot of sense. And then it really got hammered home when I became a caregiver in the system for the last...
0:27:18.2 S2: It's been more than a year since she's been done with her stuff. But for that year and a half time period where I was helping her from day to day. So I think there's a huge opportunity right around the corner for you all. Thank you. Unfortunately, I think healthcare has not taken the amount of time that they need to on the user experience of healthcare. And they have not made it customer centric at all. Which, I mean, when you go to school to be a doctor and a nurse or a clinician, of course you're going to be immersed in your trade, right? I mean, think of it as a trade, as a carpenter, a plumber. That's why I think healthcare is so broken. It's so painful. And it's people like us that got to make it better. That's why I loved your technology about going to the dentist. I thought it was very... Anything like that, that we can make it a better experience. And you as a primary care provider, I think there's a lot of opportunity to improve that experience as well. Whether it's medication or treatment management or appointment management. I mean, there's a company called Orphe that's a telemedicine company, but they are translating.
0:28:32.3 S1: And so what he was doing, he was a primary caregiver for his mother and it was, she had ovarian cancer. And he had to translate some very intimate details to his mother and there weren't translators in the health system that spoke Arabic. And I mean, just thinking of that experience would be almost crippling, right? Like, I don't want to do this, but I have to. He came up and then he birthed a company, Orphe, because of that. And I think there's a... From entrepreneurs listening to this that have an idea to make healthcare better, Tundra Ventures is the group to talk to. You speak that language. Yeah. I think I have that pessimistic view on large, bloated, lazy operations. I always like to throw shade at large corporations and whatnot, just because it's fun.
0:29:37.4 S2: And secondarily, I think it's important for people to speak out about those types of things too. But I do think there's hope, right? I think as younger innovators step up to the plate, they are starting to question why things are done a certain way. And the easiest answer is it hasn't changed because people are still making money off of it, right? And so why change a system that's broken? People are profiting off of it, right? Yeah. But I do think that as customers change their preferences, as information becomes more readily available, and as technology unlocks more services that aren't stage gated, there's a huge opportunity to make customers of health a reality, right? Give the power back to the individuals to determine how their care is given to them. Not necessarily a diagnosis and treatment. But maybe I don't want to go see that doctor. Maybe I want to go see this one instead. Or maybe I want to do an at-home test to verify or double check. So I think we're at an inflection point in the next five to 10 years, that’s optimistically. Probably more like 10 or 20 years because healthcare moves slowly, where I see these younger generations of innovators and people that are joining in these larger positions of power that can make an influence where maybe Checkable is the first step instead of a step that needs to be taken by a parent on their own, right?
0:30:56.5 S2: Because money talks, right? There will be a day where you'll be able to say in a white paper, we saved the system this much money. We saved the homes this much money. The government should provide this or corporations should provide this for their parents, right? So that's the future I'm hoping for on the healthcare side, is a lot more democratic approach to getting care in a more fair way, in a way where it's focused on the most important part of it, which is the people.
0:31:22.9 S1: The frustrating thing with healthcare investment is like traction in the market when you are going out for investment. And I think it's in technology, like, oh, I don't see any traction in the market. Well, it's really hard to work with payers. It's really hard to work with health systems. Like traction in the market is just getting a pilot. Like let me just get this pilot and then I can get this pilot and then I can continue to work on my platform and add these features and benefits. And then I'm going to continue to introduce my product to the payers. And I see a lot of companies not do well because they're not getting traction fast enough.
0:32:05.2 S2: But then from the investment side, they're not writing checks because they're not getting traction fast enough. And it's like such a conundrum. That's where Tundra would come in, right? Like, okay, we're going to write your first check. Let's get what we can in a hundred thousand. Yeah. So that's a very complex issue, right? I think first and foremost, we spoke about translation, right? As an issue from a caregiver to a patient perspective. I think there's a translation issue between how larger operations speak and operate and how founders speak and operate. And the disconnect there isn't necessarily because they don't have the same goals in mind, but their understanding of how to reach those goals are not aligned, right? So there's something that can be done from the middle, but I think it's rare to have somebody or some group of people that have seen it from both sides of the table that can speak it, right? And look, don't get me wrong. I'm no expert at anything. I know just enough and I've experienced just enough to be annoying. And so my hope is that I've built enough trusts and relationships on both sides to kind of just play mediator in a way.
0:33:13.1 S2: Some of our largest check writers that are going to come across the finish line are going to come from the healthcare side. We want to continue to build and nurture and foster relationships where I think trust is the huge part, right? Founders don't trust large check writers and large check writers don't trust founders for different reasons. Founders think that large groups are going to steal their ideas. Large check writers think that founders are going to fail, right? Those are two different reasons for why they don't like working with each other. There's a way to change that narrative, but it takes time, but it also takes successful case studies, right? So the hope is that we invest in some really good opportunities, coach those companies up so they're not feral cats, so they're domesticated and trained so they can come in and live a nice prosperous life, playing within the system that currently exists while they try to make impact for the system that we want it to be in the future. Yeah. That's funny. Hey, you're so smart, Adam. I know. I just love it. I don't know if I'd go that far, but I appreciate the vote of confidence.
0:34:14.7 S2: So I think what we need to do..so I have a meeting with Frank and then Jenny Summers from Emerging Prairie. And I saw Frank at the MedTech conference a couple of weeks ago.
0:34:25.1 S2: I'm like, I need you to come up to Fargo because we've got some good technologies here. We've got money here. And I put this out to the world last summer with Jenny and I'm like, I can't pull off. We're just firing up the clinical sites again. I can't pull off anything other than what's happening with the company. But now I think what we could do is put something together, have entrepreneurs come to Fargo. And because we have this great startup culture here too with Emerging Prairie and then get Medical Alley and then the Bread & Butter Ventures. Is that what that is? Yeah. Is that Mary Groves? So them, and then we could get Groove, Tundra, State Bank of North Dakota, Development Fund. You got Generator in town now, too. We got Generator now. So I want to make it happen where we get people from around the country. I just met an awesome entrepreneur, Smriti [Zaneveld]. Sorry, Smriti, that I totally botched your name right there. But she's doing this cool technology that... So she's a little further down. She just raised 10 million, but so smart. And it's instead of an animal model or instead of just going into a procedure blind, she's creating a material that is replicated to the skin, a replica to the tumor.
0:35:56.1 S1: And it's like using a 3D model that they can actually take the scalpel through and practice their surgery. A lot of like Oso VR, Justin Broad's company, but it's actually physical, not VR. So I've already talked to her. I'm like, you need to come here because you could be on a panel.
0:36:18.0 S2: So I'm already curating it and I think we should do it. Yeah. Frank and I can road trip. Exactly. Or maybe we can find one of my... I've got a couple of investors down there. They've got planes. So maybe we could have them fly you up. Sounds good. Sounds good. Yeah. Well, that sounds like a fun time. Honestly, I'm really looking forward to plugging more into North Dakota. And like I said, from door to door, I think it's like three and a half hours to North Dakota and then maybe four, four and a half to get to Madison. And in that corridor for myself personally, I want to do more to meet the founders that are overlooked or maybe not even looking for VC, but should definitely look for it. So super exciting to hear about what you're looking at there and seeing there, but also obviously what you're working on yourself too is cool. So yeah, keep me posted. Happy to do all that stuff. That sounds fun. So let's stop it here. And one thing, just give us some, keep persevering. I always end with, okay, did you learn something in this process of setting up a fund?
0:37:28.4 S1: What would you do differently or even in your past life with your founding stories? Give us some advice. What have you done wrong? What would you do differently, but keep on going? Oh, I've done a lot of things wrong. I think that's okay. So I guess my advice comes from that. Making mistakes is okay, but you have to learn from them.
0:37:50.3 S2: You shouldn't make the same mistake twice. So arguably I've probably gotten further in life from making a lot of mistakes and learning from them. So wallow in your own misery for a little bit, give yourself that grace, but really use it as an opportunity to get better from it. I've sent stupid emails. I've made stupid claims. I've over promised, under delivered, missed deadlines. I've done it all. I've burned out, but through it all, come out the other side of it with a little bit better understanding of how to avoid that the next time around. And soon you'll find yourself feeling pretty confident about your abilities to execute on almost anything. And I think you can't rush it. I've always said it's a marathon and not a sprint, even though you feel like you're running a hundred miles an hour at any given time. So from the perseverance perspective, I guess it's that. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. I think the biggest mistake you can make is not trying at all. Yes. Oh, that's so good.
0:38:44.8 S2: People are so scared of risk and that they're going to fail. It's like, go after it, dude. You're going to do... Yeah, you might fall on your face, but you'll get back up. Yeah. I think so. I guess that's it, right? You'll live to fight another day. Yeah. So how should we follow Tundra? Yeah. So easiest way, if you want to connect is just adam@TundraVC.com. Our website is www.tundravc.com. Yeah. That's probably the easiest. I'm not hard to find. If you typed in Tundra Ventures, you'll probably find one of us at the top of the list on the Google search. So a pretty easily accessible fund. We want to be that way, right? We don't want to be a mysterious landing page without any contact information. The last thing I want to do is overlook an investment that was sitting in my inbox that I ignored or missed that turns into the next billion-dollar opportunity. My goal is to talk to everybody, even if it's not a good fit.
0:39:43.3 S1: I love it. And you're such a great guy to talk to. And so, great guy to get to know, email Adam. And you're a great mentor too. So I would say if you're an early-stage founder and you aren't even raising money yet, Adam is very approachable. If you couldn't tell in this interview.
0:40:03.0 S2: Oh, Patty, you're too kind. But likewise, I think I was sad to see you leave the Minneapolis market. But I know that the North Dakota market has definitely benefited immensely from having you in their city and their geography now. So our loss is their extreme gain.
0:40:21.9 S1: Thank you. I fit in good here. I fit in good in Minneapolis, too. They feel very similar, to be honest with you.
0:40:30.6 S2: All good people in the Midwest. So any of those investors, think about investing in the Midwest first and then go to your coast. We have a lot of options here. Agreed. Well, thank you so much for having me on. I really appreciate it. Thank you, Adam. It was great. Well, that was just a fantastic episode. If you want to be an early adopter and you love the Persevere Podcast, I really encourage you to come over to LinkedIn. I created a group where we can continue the conversation of these podcast episodes. But also let's create community. Let's connect with one another, whether you're raising money, whether you're scaling your business, whether you want to throw out a business idea, business model, come over there and let's talk about it. Look it up as the Persevere Podcast LinkedIn group. I want to say thank you to the Checkable Health podcast production crew and to the Grow the Show editing team that makes all of this happen for this wonderful audience and for me. Of course, thank you to all of the guests that have been on the Persevere Podcast. Thank you so much for tuning in. Until next time, you keep on persevering in business.
0:41:49.7 S2: Thank you for listening to the Persevere Podcast powered by Checkable Medical. Head over to perseverepodcast.com for notes, links and additional resources from today's show. To continue hearing insights and gaining knowledge from those persevering, succeeding and making their dream a reality, be sure to subscribe to your favorite podcast app. Now go make it happen.
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