Jason Springs has been tackling the greatest threats to modern healthcare for the past 15 years. His first startup was bought in a deal valued at over $400M, and he’s now on his second and even larger venture.
During our interview on the Dealmakers Podcast, Jason Springs shared his take on building teams to scale big and meaningful businesses, and how he got hooked on startups, became a full cycle founder, and raised tens of millions of dollars for his healthcare technology ventures.
Getting Hooked on Startups & Funding Your Learning
Jason Springs has lived on both coasts of the US and has a unique breadth of perspective from coming from a small town in South Carolina to now living and working in California’s Silicon Valley.
His family worked in and experienced the most critical parts of our healthcare system, and this experience has pushed him for over a decade as he innovates and builds companies creating new solutions and advances in this space himself.
Right out of university, he managed to land his first job with Lockheed Martin, the big aerospace company making planes, satellites, and software. He was put into a division which was really a startup inside of this big and respected organization.
They were creating a new business, connecting aircraft owners with services and parts. This meant building data systems and a new supply chain, as well as traveling to almost every continent on earth to pitch business customers in a highly regulated market. One where you can’t afford to make mistakes.
Lockheed Martin also ran a federally funded research lab, Sandia National Labs in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Jason volunteered to go. He found himself in what was essentially a big venture capital pitching event. He immediately knew that this is what he wanted to do with his life. There was no going back from this moment.
He set his heart on creating something new and impactful for the world and building a big business with it.
Still, he knew that he needed two things:
- More financial and business management experience
- Business partners
He saw going back to school to get his MBA as an attractive way to get funding to learn these things and meet others. This took him to Cornell Business School where he ended up meeting his cofounders.
Startup Fundraising: You Only Need One “Yes”
After several years of working together, Jason and his initial cofounders and Ph.D. students Leonardo Teixeira and Diego Rey came up with their healthcare technology idea. One that would help patients and could be fundable by VCs.
They started GeneWEAVE in an economic period much like post-COVID 2020. Raising money was more challenging around 2008. So, they decided to go to the places where there was a good ecosystem for healthcare investment. Boston and Silicon Valley are two of them. One of the founders had family in the Bay Area, so Jason ended up crashing on the couch until they could raise some money.
Still, he says they went through at least 50-70 investor pitches before getting a single term sheet.
Springs says GeneWEAVE, a medical diagnostics company set out to “make diagnostic tests, get them approved by the FDA, and sell them to hospitals.” Specifically, they were targeting bacteria detection, and rapidly identifying what treatments should be used to help individual patients.
It was still a new area at the time. The economy was rough, and this space had proven tough for VCs to make money in. They had a green team, with no industry experience, and new, unproven technology, which they were trying to build for notoriously tough hospital clients.
Still, after about 300 variations of their pitch deck, they got that term sheet. Jason says he learned that you just need to land that one yes. Once you have that, you can build from there. He says that getting there is about listening to the questions you get from each investor on the way, understanding their perspective, and delivering confidence to them.
Perhaps most importantly, he learned that instead of just throwing things at the wall, it is far wiser and more productive to seek out the investors who are already doing your type of deal, in your space. Then optimizing for their own financing cycle and geo location.
Through their Series B round Jason’s first startup raised $25M. In 2014 the CDC and WHO announced the problem they were solving as “the greatest threat to modern healthcare.” By 2015 they were acquired by Roche for $425M.
Storytelling is everything which is something that Jason was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) where the most critical slides are highlighted.
Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.
Once an Entrepreneur, Always an Entrepreneur
Once you start in entrepreneurship, it just lights this fire in you. One that doesn’t let you rest. During his time working with Roche, Jason found an even larger problem to solve in this space. One that he describes as 10x to 100x bigger.
His second startup Endpoint Health is all about bringing personalized care to physicians, hospitals and their sickest patients. That includes helping those needing critical care for sepsis and respiratory issues, like those caused by COVID-19.
In essence, the company is on a mission to bring life-saving targeted therapies to patients with critical illness such as sepsis and acute respiratory distress syndrome.
The company has already secured $12 million in funding from investors, including Mayfield, AME Cloud Ventures, Wireframe Ventures, and Y Combinator.
Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:
- Jason’s approach to team building and hiring
- Structuring a team to build a business that scales
- Optimizing and navigating the process of selling your company
- The future of personalized and precision medicine
- The most valuable things to focus on in your business
- This founder’s top advice for other entrepreneurs