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10 Questions w/ Pavan Choksi — Partner @ Arkitekt Ventures

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Pavan Choksi

Pavan Choksi is a Partner @ Arkitekt Ventures, an early-stage venture fund with a mission to improve and advance human health. At Arkitekt, he specializes in backing founders working on disruptive models of healthcare delivery, digital health platforms and applications of frontier technologies such as neurotech, bio-engineering, quantum & AI to medicine.

Pavan brings deep healthcare operating expertise in business development and commercialization strategy as he led enterprise business development at Capsule, a digital pharmacy unicorn startup that has raised over $570M of capital to date. Previously, he was co-founder & VP of Business Development of Rx.Health, a venture-backed Mount Sinai Health System company.

As an active member of the digital health ecosystem, he has served on the Strategic Advisory Boards of the Digital Medicine Society, Digital Therapeutics Alliance, NODE Health, and Old Silver VC.

We sat down with Pavan Choksi to ask his viewpoints on everything from top founder portfolio traits, seeking mentorship, to advice on preparing for fundraising…

1

What are the top 3 common traits of founders in your portfolio?

“Obsessed, Tenacious, Humble.”

2

How does your investment criteria change in a recessionary environment?

“I believe it takes an even higher level of conviction from a founder to take the risk and start a company in a recessionary environment. So my criteria doesn’t change much — I continue investing in the best founders that are building businesses with solid business models that can have a massive impact on healthcare.”

3

How has your worldview evolved since you first started your VC career?

“I would say I’m much more optimistic! A career in VC forces you to ask yourself — what if this idea works? On a daily basis I get exposed to new approaches to make healthcare or medicine better and I’m so fortunate that I get to spend my time with founders that make me ask questions to imagine a future where they realize their vision: What if this care delivery model can help kids access better mental health treatment? What if this technology helps discover a new cancer drug?”

4

Outside of operating experience & higher education, what is one seemingly random thing you look for in a founder’s background?

“I want to hear about their obsession with solving problems. They don’t have to be at all related to their current company — I care much more about what they did to solve the problem and how far they were willing to go.”

5

Outside of investing, what is one seemingly random activity that helps make you a better VC?

“Traveling, especially outside the US and EU to get exposure to different societal and mental models.”

6

What has been the most helpful piece of advice you received throughout your career as a venture capitalist?

“‘Don’t lose sight of the forest for a leaf’ — when assessing an opportunity there is always another question you’ll want to ask but always focusing on the bigger picture has made me a better investor and partner to founders.”

7

As an early stage investor, we often pick companies whose directions change. Can you talk about pivoting vs. staying the course?

“No company today is doing exactly what they thought they would be doing when they put together their first investor deck. A great founder knows when it’s time to reiterate on a product and when it’s time to completely change direction.”

8

As a founder building something new in the world, you are often in need of knowledge you don’t possess. How would you recommend founders go about seeking mentorship?

“Surround yourself with mentors that can help support you in your development from a founder to a CEO. Your employees are not going to tell you what you can improve on. Make sure your mentors balance that out with objective, direct and honest feedback to ensure you scale in your role as the business grows.”

9

How does your evaluation process change when it comes to backing first-time vs. repeat founders?

“The overall evaluation process stays pretty consistent. For first-time founders there’s a level of execution risk because they’re going from 0 to 1. For repeat founders there’s a level of execution risk introduced by biases formed from their prior experiences. In either scenario, founders knowing and acknowledging what they don’t know with a plan to address those gaps is a strong signal.”

10

How do you advise founders in your portfolio to prepare ahead of time for future fundraises?

“Identify what you and your company need help with beyond capital well in advance of the raise and build your target list with that in mind. Leverage your existing investors to get candid feedback on the best partners for the next round and start to build relationships with high-value investors early. Ideally, you’ve already built relationships with your next round potential leads well in advance of kicking off a fundraise.”

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❤️ Thanks Andrew Yashar for your help in putting this together :)

Alix Ventures, by way of BIOS Community, is providing this content for general information purposes only. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by Alix Ventures, BIOS Community, or its affiliates. The views expressed by guests are their own and their appearance on the program does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. Views and opinions expressed by Alix Ventures employees are those of the employees and do not necessarily reflect the view of Alix Ventures, BIOS Community, affiliates, and content sponsors.

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