How Does Cancer Affect a Healthcare VC?

Yumin Choi always knew what he did mattered. Now he knows just how much.

My guest this week is Yumin Choi, Managing Director of Bain Capital Ventures Healthcare team. Yumin joined Bain’s Boston team last year after ten years culminating as a General Partner at HLM Venture Partners. At HLM he led a variety of investments across healthcare IT and services sectors, serving as board director for AbleTo, mPulse Mobile, Oceans Healthcare, Payspan (acquired by Primus Capital), Spinal Kinetics, and Vets First Choice.

Yumin has a really interesting background… born in Seoul, South Korea, lived in Japan as a child and moved to Hawaii at age 10 where he attended the Punahou School, President Obama’s alma mater. He’s an investor and mentor in several healthcare accelerators including Blueprint Health, Healthbox, Startup Health, Rock Health, and 500 Startups. Yumin serves with me on the board of the New England Venture Capital Association, and ison the board of overseers for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the oversight committee for Boston University’s Coulter Foundation. He also served as a lecturer in the Gordon Institute at Tufts University, where he taught entrepreneurial finance.

I think my conversation with Yumin about the job of being a VC is probably the most illuminating I’ve had to date, focusing on the importance of building a network, looking for patterns in the dots of what can be hundreds of near misses and good ideas below the threshold of Yes, and staying open to opportunities regardless of their source or pedigree. Our second segment, though, is about the single event that probably shaped Yumin’s views on the value of healthcare innovation more than any other… his own diagnosis with cancer at age 31, and a subsequent treatment regime that — all by itself — almost killed him.

Life is short. Enjoy it.

This is not the usual blah blah about relationships in venture, folks, try as we always do to avoid that. My conversation with Yumin was about his journey to understand why what he was doing mattered, and I was inspired by him and his story in a way I hope you will be too.

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