Q&A with Trinity’s newest EIR, Dr. Cameron Sepah

What did you do before joining Trinity Ventures as an Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR)?

I’m trained as a clinical psychologist specializing in behavioral medicine, which is the behavioral treatment of medical conditions. For numerous medical conditions, such as obesity, diabetes, insomnia, and chronic pain, the “first-line” and most effective treatments are often behavioral.

Part-time, I serve as a clinical professor of psychiatry at UCSF Medical School. I teach the equivalent of 24th grade (psychiatrists in their last year of training), so I joke that I have the most manageable teaching job in the world. I also maintain a private executive coaching practice where I work with CEOs and VCs to enhance their individual well-being — and in turn their organization’s well-being.

Full-time, I have been a serial entrepreneur. I was a founding team member at Omada Health, where I ran the Clinical Innovation team. We shaped the behavioral design of the product and published several research papers showing the Omada program produces clinically-significant reductions in body weight and A1c (blood sugar). Most meaningfully, I trained and supervised over 100 coaches who helped 100,000 patients lose more than 1 million pounds to cut their risk of diabetes in half.

After Omada, I was Founder and CEO of Actualize, which creates science-based foods, including a ketogenic meal replacement that makes behavioral compliance to a keto diet a breeze. I have been fortunate to transition my career from a clinician-scientist to a health care technology executive. It is incredibly gratifying to build scalable products that can improve the health and well-being of so many people.

What are you hoping to get out of this experience as an EIR at Trinity?

I have had the privilege of working with several incredibly smart doctor/professors-turned-venture-capitalists, including Tony Chou from The Vertical Group, Jon Root from USVP, Vijay Pande from Andreessen Horowitz, and Robert Mittendorf from Norwest Venture Partners. They were professional role models for me, helping me envision the evolution of my career from a clinician (who delivers treatments) to a professor (who designs treatments) to an operator (who creates companies that disseminate treatments) to an investor (who identifies and develops such companies).

I wanted to be an EIR at Trinity Ventures to deepen my understanding of what it’s like to be on the other side of the table and to learn the ropes of the venture industry as I transition into a full-time investor. Trinity has made a few health-related investments — Care.com, Bulletproof , Cyrus Biotechnology — and I’m excited to help partners like Dan Scholnick explore other health tech investment opportunities.

What types of companies are you interested in exploring?

I’ve worked in and am interested in both consumer and enterprise companies, but I’m focusing right now on health tech, which spans everything from consumer health and wellness/CPG to deep tech innovations in R&D, diagnostics, and therapeutics. Health tech innovations can impact the health care, biotech, life sciences, and pharma industries. I’m developing theses around the most significant opportunities, since I believe the field is finally achieving the “slope of enlightenment” in terms of the Gartner hype cycle.

Image courtesy of Journey Sales

What have you learned so far as an EIR?

As an entrepreneur, I pitched investors for everything from Seed to Series D rounds of financing. When you pitch, you don’t get to see what happens behind the closed doors of partner meetings. Being an EIR has exposed me to the process of deliberating and deciding on a deal from the investor’s persective, which I’ve come to see as a blend of art and science.

Because of the incredible team at Trinity, I’ve realized how much of venture capital is really human capital. VCs have been described as “Chief Psychologists,” tasked with finding the best entrepreneurs, convincing them to work with you, and coaching them towards success. I have been impressed by how deeply the Trinity team embraces that approach. Even when we pass on a deal, we respond quickly and provide transparent reasons for our decision, often accompanied by a humble acknowledgement that we could be wrong and what evidence could disprove our hypothesis. Trinity is also incredibly supportive of its network. Anyone who has worked with Trinity feels like family and I feel fortunate to have become part of it.

What else should people know about you?

I strive to lead a values-driven life and even teach values-based therapy at UCSF. As a clinician, I believe in being a positive role model by practicing what I preach: I try to eat a low-carb diet, powerlift regularly, practice sleep hygiene, manage stress with humor, and cultivate relationships with kindness. I believe that people who are well themselves inevitably spread that well-being to their families, friends, colleagues, and communities. Prioritizing your own health and well-being is ultimately an altruistic act for the world.

So when I work with entrepreneurs, I strive to add value beyond just the standard capital and operational advice. I leverage my clinical expertise to help entrepreneurs more effectively manage their own psychology (to optimize their well-being and productivity) and the psychology of others (their board, team, customers, and public). Entrepreneurship can feel such like a Sisyphean task of rolling a boulder uphill, that having a coach “in your corner” can be an incredible amplifier of continuous improvement. Thus,

My professional mission is to “empower entrepreneurs with coaching and capital to develop thriving people and products.”

If you are an entrepreneur or investor and resonate with that mission, feel free to say hello at cameron@trinityventures.com.