I was first introduced to Brave Care co-founder Darius Monsef (AKA “Bubs”) at the end of 2018 prior to their pre-seed raise. We were connected through family, as we like to say (via an Indicator Venture Partner and Founder, Greg Isenberg — founder of Islands, recently acquired by WeWork). We also worked closely with Indicator Venture Partner Zack Onisko in diligence (Zack was head of Growth at Creative Market while Bubs was co-founder and CEO).
When we first spoke, it was early. Very early. I later found out that we were the first institutional investor to ‘officially’ get pitched. I remember exactly where I was when I first heard that pitch, (eating Tacos post surf session in Cardiff by the Sea). Perhaps it was the taste of the delicious food or perhaps I was still reeling from the epic surf session. I’m not sure. All I know is that the call just ‘felt’ really good. I remember calling one of my partners right after telling him “we were going to do this!” He ingratiated me as he often does with an all-purpose “sounds great!”
What followed was something we experience often; a dilemma driven by a desire to ‘get in early’ while also making sure that there was enough traction to build a meaningful POV in diligence. That’s typically how it goes with seed. You need to invest before it’s obvious. That means taking a lot of leaps of faith, and it also means being able to get a ‘feel’ for something before it’s actually ‘a thing.’
While I’d love to tell you that we jumped right in, that’s actually not the case. The fund passed on the deal but I ended up investing as an angel.* I took the leap of faith personally because I truly believed in the founder, and I believed that while there was still a LOT to figure out, Bubs (and his co-founder Corey and their early team) were the ones to do it. While Bubs is an entrepreneur, he is first and foremost a parent. In fact, it was his journey as a parent that led him to first discover what would later become Brave Care (he was a client following his son’s accident at the playground, more here).
It was certainly early. Back then, they weren’t even called Brave Care. Pacific Crest Children’s Pediatrics (a mouthful I know) wasn’t even a start-up (at least not by Silicon Valley’s standard). Rather it was a single practice pediatric clinic that was run by (no surprise) a pediatrician. This is part of what I loved; this business wasn’t founded by a hot young tech kid coming out of MIT that read an article on how children’s healthcare needs to be improved. Instead, it was conceived by an actual doctor (pediatrician no less) that saw a problem with the limited options that families have for pediatric resources. Tech had nothing to do with it, he simply wanted to provide better care. Meanwhile, it was the kernel for something big.
Again, Pacific Crest Pediatrics wasn’t exactly big when we first saw it, but it certainly had big potential. In the 9 months that followed we witnessed an incredibly impressive transformation. We watched Bubs (and his co-founder Corey) build an incredible team, craft a unique and compelling brand and most importantly, transform a single unit practice into a smart, innovative ecosystem model that made a ton of sense and was highly differentiated from existing solutions.
Without delving too far into the business, the Brave Care model combines the best of Urgent Care, Primary Care and Telehealth/Telemedicine. What’s unique is the way that they combine the services, and the way in which they are deployed in market (more on that soon!).
Simply put, Brave Care’s mission is to provide better healthcare for kids. What defines better? Easy, affordable, quality care. These things sound simple, especially for a country like the United States. Astonishingly this doesn’t exist in a highly accessible fashion. When most kids get sick or injured and they need to see a doctor immediately, they end up in the emergency room. It’s not a pleasant experience to say the least. Wait times are typically multiple hours, the care quality isn’t always as good as it could be, and the environment is less that optimal for children. All of this for an average price of $1,500 per visit (I’ve heard many horror stories about bills in excess of $10k). Meanwhile, of the ~30M+ annual pediatric emergency room visits almost 97% were treat and release visits. In other words, the vast majority of those cases could have been handled by Brave Care in a more efficient manner, (less expensive for both provider and patient, less traumatic for kids and a generally better outcome all around).
Efficiency is what Indicator is all about. With Brave Care, we see an opportunity to bring efficiencies to the massive market of pediatric healthcare and we couldn’t be more excited to be backing this incredible team whose already built the foundation for what we believe will provide tremendous improvements, accessibility and quality of care for kids, (more on the latest round from Techcrunch here).
*As a side note, Indicator General Partners are able to invest in companies outside of the fund via direct angel investments. However, should the fund decide to invest at a later date and/or subsequent round the partner is required to sell their position to the fund at cost.