VC Corner Q+A: Graham Brown

Graham Brown is a Partner at Lerer Hippeau. He came from SoftBank Capital, where he focused on early stage investments in mobile and web companies, with a particular interest in marketplaces. Graham previously worked as an associate at Polaris Partners and helped lead digital strategy at preventive health company Life Line Screening. He studied economics and philosophy at Colby College and later earned his MBA from Columbia Business School.

Please enjoy this Q+A with Graham Brown.

Q&A:

What is your / your fund’s mission?

We are an early-stage venture capital firm with a focus on New York. We seek to identify and invest in entrepreneurs building category-defining brands across industries.

What is one thing you are excited about right now?

We love big, technology resistant markets with broken customer experiences. Nowhere is this more acute at the moment than in healthcare. While healthcare spending is approaching 20% of GDP and consumers are shouldering more and more of the economic burden, the category has remained slow to evolve and technology adoption lags. With some of these trends in mind, I’m particularly excited about patient-centric healthcare technology and the opportunity in general around the consumerization of healthcare. Consumers are increasingly discerning about where they go for care and their expectations are much higher. Companies that better align industry incentives and improve access to quality care, transparency and overall experience are in a unique position to capture market share.

Who is one founder you think we should watch?

Related to consumer empowerment in healthcare, Allon Bloch and team are building something special at K Health.

What are 3 top qualities of every great leader?

  1. Communication/Empathy
  2. Grit
  3. Courage

What and when was your very first investment? What struck you about them?

My first seed investment was Uniform Teeth in 2016. The team had a unique perspective on how to provide a better customer experience in orthodontics at a lower price and with excellent results. In a world where consumers are increasingly selective about where they go for care, Uniform’s customer-centric approach and technology-enabled experience really stood out. The efficiencies they gain through technology creates a really compelling economic model, and their customers are so ecstatic with the product that they generate a ton of referrals. This word-of-mouth element is something we consistently see across our successful consumer businesses.

What is one question you ask yourself before investing in a company?

What’s the key insight and, if true, how does this lead to massive value creation?

What is one thing every founder should ask themselves before walking into a meeting with a potential investor?

What is the specific goal I want to achieve with this meeting?

What do you think should be in a CEO’s top 3 company priorities?

  1. Hiring and aligning team around mission
  2. Managing cash and runway
  3. Setting strategic direction

Favorite business book, blog or podcast?

Shoe Dog

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?

Spending time with my wife and dog outdoors. We’re big into hiking, skiing and other activities that tend to take us away from the city when we’re not working. I find it’s so important to have balance. Having grown up in NH, this helps me get back to my roots.

Who is one leader you admire?

Jeff Bezos

What is one piece of advice you’d give every founder?

Focus. A lack of focus is one of the most common reasons we see startups fail. Also, be super selective from whom you take advice.

How can startups reach you?

Startups interested in an opportunity to pitch Lerer Hippeau can apply here.