Healthcare Innovation: an Investor’s Perspective. Digital Health Interviews: Anish Shindore
We are in Andorra, and our team is super excited about this interview. Our today’s guest is Anish Shindore — Founder & Managing Partner at GSD Health.
Anish Shindore: 13+ years in Health, Digital Commercialization, and Digital Therapeutics within Big Pharma. Sales & Marketing is his core strength for driving the adoption of new tech trends for top-line or bottom-line impact. Executed 30+ Bio-Pharma partnerships, co-developments, collaborations; & investments with HealthTech companies. Angel investor, Mentor & Board Member of multiple startups & deeply involved with European digital health regulation and reimbursement that motivated him to start GSD Health.
Anish Shindore: “I’m not a native healthcare person. I started my career in human resources on the commercial side, mainly in product development. I would say I’m one of the first guinea pigs in Pharma to hire someone from outside the industry to head up an area, which in 2011 was digital. Slowly I realized what it meant from a commercialization perspective, and then I got into digital medicines. For the last 13 years, my background has been made from working with companies trying to see if we can bring the science and the technology parts together in order to better manage and detect from a care perspective what would be the pathway. I have had the luxury of working in some very nice companies and interesting projects as well.”
What helps Anish today? The experience of looking at HealthTech from a Pharma perspective on how it can be implemented and brought; how a startup needs to go, accommodate and position itself, and how all of that meets certain ends. So that is basically the story behind GSD, which is Shindore’s current baby that he’s trying to grow. It helps him a lot in bringing these two stories together and helping out startups and the overall healthcare industry.
Anish calls GSD Health “something that came out of fun, frustration, and aspiration to do something for the community”: “When you’re learning something new every day, meeting new people who have amazing ideas, it is about fun. The frustration came during the pandemic. I was heading up Digital Therapeutics at Sanofi. One of the things that I felt almost handcuffed was having such a really nice title, and such good responsibility at a pharmaceutical company level I felt like I was not able to do anything. It was like “what can you do at the grassroots level to actually make an impact in society?”. But if you are able to work with startups, and deliver solutions that actually fit within a patient journey today, you can actually enhance people’s life quite a lot. When you invest yourself in startups and some of them actually are successful, then the success will come to us as well. That’s the model that we’ve set with GSC: a high-risk high-reward one. If they succeed, we succeed; if they don’t succeed, we don’t succeed. So that’s the story behind GSD Health, it’s been cooking for many years. I share the credit of the name of the company with Eugene (Eugene Borukhovich — note), my brother. It was one of our Friday lunches, where we were like “what do we call this?”. There are so many consulting and advisory companies out there, but there’s none actually focused on getting done, just rolling the sleeves up and getting to it, and that’s where GSD, “getting shit done”, came from.”
Continuing the topic of Borukhovich, Shindore is an investor in YourCoach, its idea, and the marketplace that was planned to be created: “I see Marina and Eugene just kicking butt everywhere they go. I think the opportunity they’re working on, the gap which is in the system today, the need to have health coaches, and the combination of the founding team with the market is great! As an investor, I’m happy with the way they are going, but more than as an investor I’m happy as a friend: for any startup, it is very hard to stop going downhill and start going uphill. I think they’ve been very successful in doing that as well. Kudos to those guys on it.”
Shindore’s individual purpose as an investor is to create some sort of impact on health: “I look into what the market space is, whether they have understood the market space, what the founding team is, what exactly the dynamics in the team is, what they want to build and what is their approach to actually become a commercial success. If they haven’t thought about that, it’s like a no-go since the onset. One last thing I look into is the value that I can provide them: is there any guidance that I can give them based on my background and other experiences? It’s a combination of many things and there’s the whole chemistry: if it clicks, then you go deeper, if it doesn’t click, then you have to struggle in order to get any information out and give any information as well. Chemistry is also very important.”
In GSD there is a portfolio of eight companies. Shindore’s personal investment they’ve done with his wife is about seven investments, and all of them came through a network. So is there a chance to see a new VC fund? “I don’t have that much VC experience to actually understand what it means to take the money and invest it correctly. That is hopefully in the next two-three years we’ll develop that experience. Hopefully, we’ll have a person as a part of GSD who’s really focused laser sharp on the VC aspect. I know you’re watching this video and you know who you are. Once that is done I think there needs to be a natural progression that we would potentially create. But this is aspirational thinking for me right now.”
Since we visited Andorra, we couldn’t help but inquire about the ecosystem for digital health startups in the country. Last year its government started a program which is called “Living Lab”. In such a way it wants to invite startups from other countries to use Andorra as a test build: “It’s like almost 100 countries represented within one population group. It’s a good sample size to actually come in and test your solution out. It’s a centralized system, so it’s very easy to get access to people over here. I’m involved in some of the work that’s going on. So startupers from other countries come over here for a couple of years, do really good stuff at a grassroots level, make sure things are implemented, and then go out. That kind of system would be very helpful.”
From Shindore’s point of view, now is the best time to invest in startups: “Out of the seven ones that we’ve invested in, five have happened in the last seven months. The reason being the valuations of the companies are going down quite a bit. They have to make a much higher effort in a very early stage to prove the point of their solution, their technology, what their commercial model is, and get some deal sign to convince a lot of people outside, so the ask is much higher than what it was in 2021. From a maturity perspective, the startup is now exposed to many things that they usually go on a series B financial route or a mid-series. If you as an investor have that even in pre-series, they are derisking everything for yourself before you invest. For me, this is where the gems are that you have to keep an eye on. You can get a higher percentage for low money right now. That’s the trend in terms of investments I would see. In terms of solutions themselves, if you look at it within digital health, I think digital therapeutics are here to stay. At a certain point in time, this is going to unlock, and there’s going to be a big realization of it. We could have a drug plus a technology that can help in a much more comprehensive treatment of an individual. Remote patient monitoring is going to be more and more critical. I’m hoping that more and more Pharma, BioTech, and drug companies start realizing it and making it a part of their core business.”
Traditionally, at the end of the interview, our guest gave some recommendations for startup founders in digital health: “One of the things that I would say is be very truthful to what your solution is. Within digital health, there are a lot of spaces that you can play on and you don’t need the same amount of funding to come through. Be very wise in terms of what are you proposing, how much are you asking and what’re you delivering. You need to have a balance and the right expectation on that. At GSD, when looking at startups, we usually check the startup has 6 key pillars as part of it: science, technology, team, business model, commercialization strategy, and regulation. These six need to work in some sort of balance and are very critical from our perspective at least from GSD for a startup to be successful. If there’s a gap in one of the pillars, it doesn’t mean that you should shut down your business. You’ll find the right expertise externally and see how that can be covered. These couple of recommendations are key to success and avoiding failure.”
Our previous episode was with Andreas Tamberg: Grants as an Alternative to VC Money in Digital Health
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