Google Venture's life sciences team keeps second jobs -- and it helps them make better investments

Krishna highres (2) (2)GVGV general partner Krishna Yeshwant

Dr. Krishna Yeshwant has a lot on his plate.

In addition to practicing internal medicine, Yeshwant is a general partner at GV (formerly Google Ventures), where he leads the Life Sciences team. His team has invested in companies like 23andMe, Foundation Medicine, and Flatiron Health.

And Yeshwant’s not the only one on his team that’s active in his field. Another team member works as a researcher at Harvard, another is a professor at Dartmouth, and one is also a physician.

It wasn’t necessarily a conscious choice to hire in people who still had another job, but they soon realised that as life science investors, they could take advantage of the observations they made at their other gigs.

“You need to be in the field to see how it’s evolving,” Yeshwant said. “In the investor role, you make an investment, then you don’t know what happens for five years, seven years, 10 years, and so you can often ‘drink your own Kool-aid.'” Because Yeshwant’s with patients frequently, he can’t be all that removed. “In the end, it’s always a good reminder that this stuff has to get to a patient to be in any way meaningful,” he said.

One example of a time when Yeshwant took his experience in the doctor’s office and applied it to an investment was Quartet Health, a New York-based behavioural health startup. Yeshwant had noticed that patients were coming in with physical health complaints, such as a rash or joint pain, but there often wasn’t enough time to address some of the mental conditions that could be playing a role in these physical problems.

“We often don’t talk about the underlying depression, the anxiety, the issues that actually ultimately affect all those other conditions,” he said. GV spent years looking for companies that could tackle that before coming across Quartet.

It’s also informed what he’s on the look-out for in future investments, including adherence, or making sure patients take their prescribed medication, and physician burnout.

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