Corbin Petro has already raised close to $100M to fund her startup venture that is changing the US healthcare system.
On the Dealmakers Show Petro shared how she switched from the public to private sector, and has been pushing for change in healthcare in the United States. Including rethinking substance abuse and mental health services. Plus, how to raise money from strategic investors, and restructuring your board.
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Sports & Medicine
Corbin Petro grew up in the Midwest. Being born in Ohio, she says that she gained an early appreciation for different types of people and how they interacted with the world. She describes it as laying an early foundation for a career of service through healthcare.
Petro was an athlete in school. With distance running taking her to college. Which really took her on a path of extensive learning in the healthcare space.
Obviously there have been many analogies between sports and business. Especially when it comes to marathons and startups.
Corbin recognizes that she definitely has that competitive streak. Though also really feels that it was learning the work ethic and to put in the hard work that has kept her going today. From her studies to getting through all of the challenges of a startup.
She attended Yale, then Wharton for her MBA. She is also an advisor to the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.
After school she put in some stints in consulting and investment banking. All of these roles she notes were centered around the healthcare industry.
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During this period Corbin says that she was able to see and experience all of the different components of the healthcare sector, and how the system fits together. An important part of the journey if you aspire to innovate and create change in this space.
This brought together her understanding of the complexities, including how pharma, payers, providers, and medical device companies interact. As well as the technology is used, and data can be used to improve care.
Seeing the flaws and challenges she was inspired to get involved and have an impact.
Realigning Incentives In The Healthcare System
Corbin became the COO of Medicaid for the state of Massachusetts.
Medicaid is the government program focusing on delivering health insurance for lower income Americans. Of which there were 1.3M under her watch and jurisdiction there.
In this role she helped create new programs, as well as worked on implementing the Affordable Care Act.
Corbin says that she was really inspired to move into the pirate sector to put new payment models into action that incentivize providers in a better way.
Her first venture into this was by joining Benevera Health. This was a commercial payer, made up of a joint venture between four hospitals.
Another business was spun out of that to focus on supporting the payers and providers through going out to meet patients and discover their needs outside of a clinical setting. They went to patient’s homes and saw all of the housing, transportation, and food security issues. Problems that ultimately impact the healthcare system and their own health.
This work provided deeper insights into the lives of patients, and many of the underlying issues or root causes which keep them coming back to the hospital and emergency room. Especially things like mental health and addiction, which may not show up in the data being looked at.
Noting that no one was doing anything about these non-clinical components and whole person health led Corbin Petro to launch her own startup to tackle it, Eleanor Health.
Corbin found her cofounder and clinical partner, as she worked on the business model and finance side of this new venture.
Together the two of them dug in to find the right path and design something that worked to solve these problems.
Eleanor Health is an at home medical model, working on whole person care. Specifically for those with mental health needs and substance abuse disorders.
Not an easy task, as they had to sell the health insurance companies who would pay for the service, while trying to improve care directed towards the actual patients. A feat made even more difficult as they had to start out trying to sell a concept, without having the hard data to prove it worked. Which meant a lot of prospects saying no, and telling them to come back later when they had more proof. Leaving them needing some serious capital to execute and prove the clinical model in the real world.
You can certainly imagine that they faced some of the same challenges in trying to raise early capital. The catch 22 situation of needing proof to get investors convinced, but needing the capital to get that proof.
Still, they have already raised $85M, through a Series C round, led by General Catalyst. With their earliest investor being Townhall Ventures.
Eleanor Health has also attracted strategic investors along the way. Though her top advice for other entrepreneurs is not only to consider bootstrapping longer, and being more careful about thinking through who you are putting on your cap table, and how they will interact on your board, but being sure that you have commercial contracts signed and in place, before taking money from strategics.
Storytelling is everything which is something that Corbin Petro 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.
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Eleanor Health has also attracted strategic investors along the way. Though her top advice for other entrepreneurs is not only to consider bootstrapping longer and being more careful about thinking through who you are putting on your cap table, and how they will interact on your board but being sure that you have commercial contracts signed and in place, before taking money from strategics.
Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:
- Restructuring boards to make them more diverse
- How big Eleanor Health is today
- Three things to look for in the right investors