Office Hours: I co-lead the life sciences practice at Phoenix Venture Partners and am a board director at a $26 billion healthcare organization. I’m Christina Jenkins.Featured

Hi everyone! I’m Christina Jenkins, MD, and I’ve dedicated my professional career to improving health and well-being at maximum scale. I am a venture partner at Phoenix Venture Partners, where I co-lead the life science practice and invest in startups that change the way we diagnose, monitor and treat health conditions. I am also a venture partner at Portfolia, focusing on active aging, longevity, and femtech investments. In addition to investing, I am a board director at Independence Health Group, a $26 billion organization serving over 7 million people across 26 US states. I was previously Executive VP at Lucania Partners, a healthcare advisory group, and founding CEO at OneCity Health, an organization built to change care delivery for 1M New Yorkers. I have a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Purdue and an MD from Northwestern. Ask me anything about investing, healthcare, being on boards, and more!
Thanks so much for joining us @CJinNYC!Elphas – please ask @CJinNYC your questions before Friday, April 9th. @CJinNYC may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
I'm working on a healthcare tech startup to optimize the medical specialist referral processes and reducing appointment no-show rates. Can I get your feedback on my idea and my approach to the problem?
Hi Christina - appreciate you doing this!What qualities do you typically screen for when deciding which companies to invest in (i.e. founder personality, sales metrics, etc.)?And also how much do you advise or support teams post-investing?For context, I work at dev/design firm that builds software specifically for companies in digital health, wellness, and HCIT. Wondering how I can help set up our startup clients for success (from both a tech and VC referral standpoint).
Hi @CJinNYC, thanks for doing this AMA!I'm also a physician, doing academic medicine. Also a founder, building a company from technology I'm creating through my research. Specifically I'm helping telehealth doctors resolve their patients problems with AI point of care tests done on a patient's cellphone. This can increase patient convenience, and decrease costs of an in person encounter that involves a POC test.I'm curious about that transition from clinical medicine to industry, and particularly venture investing. How did you build your CV, or gain experience and credentials that would position you for that role? Any career strategies I should keep in mind if I were to explore an advisory role for an investment firm?Thank you!
Thanks for your question, Therese! Although my path to industry was informed by a pre-med career as an analyst with GE Healthcare, I think the search is the same: how to put business and medicine together in a way that is fulfilling and aligned with personal values and professional interests. From what I am reading, you are already building a nice base of experience: by founding a company, I surmise you know how to convey the value of what you’re building (you just named the Triple Aim), you know how to prioritize competing demands, and you likely are achieving results on limited capital. These things put you on a good path to invest in and operate startups. The additional skillset you may consider – particularly if you want to be part of the investing team (“lead deals”) in later-stage startups instead of advising – is understanding financials. One option to do that is an MBA, and only you can weigh that value (or, opportunity cost of stepping away for a few years). Certificate programs (B-schools, Coursera), volunteering for strategic initiatives in your hospital, and angel investing groups (there are many out there that have educational models), for example, will help you get more comfortable with understanding how a business grows viably. At this stage, my sense is that investment firms will want you to advise/consult with them for diligence, or understanding the merits of a potential investment (is the market sizeable, the product and clinical development credible, etc). Good luck to you!
Thanks so much! Very sound advice. I’m in my last class of a MBA ✅ will definitely keep on the lookout for advising/due diligence roles.
Wow, what an accomplished career so far! We are fundraising and building traction to take our airport assistance platform to the next level. Any tips on co- marketing with other companies? We offer value for any travel related companies who want to offer a better travel experience for their customers. We’re looking for a way to help potential partners to see our value. ✈️
Thank you for your time Dr. Jenkins. I'd like to get involved in venture capital and identifying new strategic opportunities for investment. Is this something that can be done through partnerships? If so, what might that partnership look like (consulting, referrals, etc.). What do venture firms look for in the people they partner/work with? What would be my first steps in pursing involvement with a venture firm?For reference, (or if anyone else has ideas for me) I have a PhD in genomics and experience in the development of software for scientific big data analysis. I've also done mentorship for startups in the agtech and biotech space and currently do fractional COO work for businesses ready to grow strategically. Looking forward to hearing your talk!
Thanks for your question, Yael. You seem to have a really rich base of experience to offer. You’re right that one time-efficient option for becoming involved with a firm/fund is through an advisory or consulting arrangement. I suggest taking time to crystallize your own personal value proposition (why are you compelling?), then research the market for the types of firms that would welcome your expertise. For the former: what is it that you love about genomics and software development that you do better than anyone else? What company stage energizes you? Do you prefer spending your time on the earliest seedling of an idea, or in helping growth-stage companies? Once you've confirmed those things, map out the firms that invest in that sector and stage. I suggest using your network for introductions – the investors in the startups for whom you did great work, for example – and schedule some get-to-know you time through which you can build a trusted relationship. Good luck!
Hello Christina @CJinNYC!I am glad there is someone like you seeking to improve healthcare!My first consulting gig was with a HIPAA compliance SaaS company, this opened my eyes to how many founders do not know about doing business with healthcare systems. When it comes to startups learning about the industry, beyond joining an accelerator or such, what are the communities, slack groups or podcasts I can recommend to the many who need to learn about how the business side healthcare works ?While I have started sharing related resources about selling into healthcare on Youtube, I am just one person and I am open to refer to other quality resources who talk about the business of healthcare.
Hi Dr. Jenkins @CJinNYC,How do you think COVID19 has changed investor funding in the healthcare technology field in the next year, 5 years, and 10 years?Cheers.Lucy
Lucy, thanks for your question! I am sure you appreciate the sentiment that context and timing are everything: I am proud to lead investments for Portfolia, which recently invested in Everlywell, a female-led at-home lab testing company now valued at >$2B. Circulating on Twitter is a many-years-ago rejection email from another investment firm, and you know what? Their assessment had validity, at the time. I give that example because COVID has changed the landscape for what’s investable in healthcare. Sticking with the Everlywell example, consumer-focused and at-home care technologies (lab testing, remote patient monitoring, etc) are more attractive for venture investment than ever. For brevity’s sake on a Friday afternoon, I will give one more example. The pandemic reminded us of the power of the government in innovation: for decades, the utility of telemedine/virtual care in improving access to care has been known, and now reimbursement is actually enabling provide technology adoption. I am looking forward to what the next 5- to 10- will look like, and at this pace of change, we’ll have to get used to leading innovation while managing its unintended consequences, simultaneously.
Hi @CJinNYC! I'd love to ask you about being on boards. I am setting an intention around joining a board this year (local non-profit or more formally advising startups beyond my consulting work), but without prior board experience, I'm not sure how to position myself. How do you suggest those of us who are interested in joining boards, but don't yet have that experience, approach those early conversations? Thank you!
Hi, Becca! Thanks for your question. This is a great time for you to prepare yourself to serve on a board, and you’re right that the first one is the hardest! You might look into the many reputable organizations now focused on board placements for women. Often there are low- or no-cost webinars that will help stimulate thought and may also help you find new friends on the same quest.When you say “early conversation,” do you mean that you know that a board is looking for great candidates and you’d like to approach? If so, one suggestion is to think about your own value proposition (what makes you a compelling board candidate), then line that up with what the company might need from governance perspective. You mention non-profits and startups, and they typically need similar things: strategic perspective, network for fundraising or product/service sales, and specific expertise in finance/accounting, HR, or subject matter expertise within the company's domain. So, in my view, an initial conversation is about “fit” (so be yourself and realize you are also considering spending lots of time with the group). While you are taking that first step, listen alot and highlight your expertise. Most importantly, I'd demonstrate ability to stay on the right side of the governance-management divide, ease in navigating conflicting stakeholders, and the readiness to assume fiduciary duty. Good luck!
Thanks so much for this awesome response, @CJinNYC! I really appreciate it! And yes, re: early conversation.
Thanks for your time, Dr. Jenkins!As someone with an MBA and has <10 years of working experience, I'm interested in serving on a board of a non-profit. I've seen a lot of articles and posts about joining a for-profit (private or public) board, but what advice do you have to share about joining non-profit boards?
Hi Anon! I think you might have hit send before submitting your question :-)
👋🏾 Dr. Jenkins! Thanks for being here. Tasheema here from Premedly. I have 2 ?s Hope it’s okay.1.) As a startup founder, when should I start thinking about putting together a board for my company? 2.) Any advice for selling to hospital systems and medical practices, specifically employee training programs? Thanks in advance for your insight 🙏🏾
Hi, Tasheema! Congratulations on what you’re building. My advice is to begin building a board as early as you start bringing investors onto your cap table, and to take the process very seriously so you get the diverse mix of expertise and viewpoints to help your company succeed. The right board will buoy you while fulfilling duties of corporate governance. A misaligned or poorly-composed board can drain your energy and your company. A terrific book that might help you think through the recruitment and effective management of boards is Brad Feld’s “Startup Boards.” As for selling into providers, I wish I had better news: the sales cycle for hospital systems is a long one, particularly if Premedly requires capital expenditure. It’s probably worse, now, given the financial hits providers have taken in setting of COVID. My suggestions are to have advisors help you navigate to the decisionmakers, and to make sure you can quickly demonstrate Premedly’s value, financial and otherwise.
Thank you Dr. Jenkins! I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions...extremely helpful!!! Take care,Tasheema
Thank you for taking my question. As a Black woman is developing a tech platform. Funding is a big issue. Everyone is funding underserved female, but it is almost impossible to actually get the funding in reality.What funds would you recommend for Black female founders seeking pre seed funding to develop technology?
Congratulations on what you’re building, JobEquality! I know what you mean about the lopsidedness in venture funding: it’s hard for everyone, and less than 1% of venture funding goes to Black and Latina women.May ask a sincere first question, as I don’t know your company’s stage of development? Are you sure it’s venture funding that you need? There are alternative sources of funding that you could explore (small business loans, women- or minority-focused grants, etc.) while keeping all your ownership. If you are ready to trade ownership for funding and the “plus” of startup expertise and network, then I’d suggest focusing on investors who are both expert in your sector AND are demonstrably interested in the underrepresented. Since you specified VCs who focus on Black people, I just googled “black venture capital” and several aggregated lists came up, including AfroTech’s list, Harlem Capital’s list, and several others. Newer models like Republic’s and Portfolia’s (Rising America Fund) are also good ideas to start. Good luck!
Thank you so much for taking the time to respond. I will look into minority focused grants.