Rick GibbCo-founder, Bioverge
Tell me about Bioverge.
At Bioverge, we aim to connect the general public to innovative healthcare startups by giving people the opportunity to invest in these companies. We identify promising companies and explain the company and its technology in a way that the general public can easily understand.
Once we select a company to feature on the platform, people can invest alongside Bioverge and professional co-investors for reduced investment amounts. Historically, this kind of investment opportunity has not been available to the public, even to well-off individuals. In addition to investment resources, we have a network of healthcare experts that portfolio companies can access indefinitely.
How do you select a company for the Bioverge portfolio?
We spend a lot of time on due diligence, which is highly correlated with investment returns. We take seriously our responsibility to individual Bioverge investors who do not have the scientific expertise, time, and/or resources required to make the kind of assessment we can.
We conduct a 360-degree assessment to ensure that each Bioverge selection has both (a) met our rigorous standards (b) secured funding from other professional investors. We look for founders that have sought feedback from domain experts and other stakeholders: customers, users, patients, and we ensure the founders understand the nuances and complexities of the healthcare industry.
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur? Was that a plan from the beginning?
No. I planned to attend medical school and went through the full process: prerequisites, MCAT, applications, acceptance. Ultimately, I was more interested in health care technology, where I felt the impact could be magnitudes greater.
Rice University Bioengineering (BIOE) played a major role here. The initial draw of BIOE was a melding of my interests in the human body, math, and science. The experiences I had during my time at Rice —internships, coursework, applied projects—gave me just enough exposure to know there is a vast world worth exploring.
After graduation, my exploration wasn’t linear. I talked to many different people. I tried different roles.
I began at a digital health startup, first in engineering, then in business development, where I wore many different hats. I talked with potential partners and clients, learned how to distill and present a compelling story. I saw how intellectual property (IP) was licensed from universities and how that affects a startup.
I tried to soak up all I could about the world of innovation in healthcare without really knowing what was next–just that it would open doors. The next opportunity revolved around commercializing IP from the university side and, from there, investing in early-stage technology. Co-founding Bioverge only became clear once I had seen the industry from different vantage points and felt strongly that we had a compelling insight and value to offer.
Based on your experience, what advice can you offer Rice students interested in entrepreneurship?
Don’t overprotect your idea and don’t waste time by staying indoors and continuously planning, continuously prototyping.
An idea is not necessarily where the value comes from–for an idea to become reality it takes the time, energy, perseverance, sacrifice of an entrepreneur to develop and secure funding. Ask yourself, are the people you’re talking to really going to be more committed to this idea than you?
The most value you can get for the least amount of money is going out into the world for input from professionals and others knowledgeable about the problem you’re trying to solve. These additional perspectives will make your idea better faster, and give you a read on whether you should continue to invest more time and energy in it.
For those that don’t have an idea – I would say that’s even better and the approach isn’t necessarily that different. Get out of the building and go explore industries, companies, problems that are interesting to you. It’s these added perspectives that will both guide you to the idea and make you better equipped when it comes to execution.
What qualities are most essential in an entrepreneur?
Curiosity is a really important quality. There are so many inefficiencies in the world around us that need solving. It takes someone naturally curious to ask why we do some things the way we do and if there might be a better way.
And related to that curiosity is a perpetual learning mindset. It takes asking those questions out of curiosity and then going and talking to people who have different vantage points and being open to new perspectives.
Entrepreneurship requires patience and resilience. There’s a lot of task juggling and bouncing from the highs of positive developments to the lows of new challenges or perceived stagnation. It’s truly a marathon. There will always be a thousand things to do.
But, if you are able to set clear, measurable goals, and prioritize tasks based upon which will give you the biggest value in return, you’ll be able to keep plugging away and realize the trend line is still up and to the right. Investors love that.