The Mix Tape: Ep. 7 — Women in Life Science Venture Capital

As the life science industry grows, the call for diversity in its venture capital grows too. In this episode, Mix Talent's KC McAllister talks with Sevy Kraner, co-founder of Pontem Capital, the only woman-owned and -operated, Midwest-focused healthcare venture capital firm.

Transcription

Unison-
Welcome to The Mix Tape.

Valerie McCandlish:

I’m Valerie.

Natalie Taylor:

And I’m Natalie.

Valerie McCandlish:

We’re so glad to have you back once again for this week’s episode. I think every week, I always like to share a little bit about mix if I can. And one of the things that we like to do here is really highlight when our teammates are doing well. We use a Slack channel to share kudos for everybody. It’s just been popping lately. I love to see everything, that everybody’s doing well. It’s, we use it for great communication with our candidates, for exciting things that are happening with our clients, for our personal achievements, professional and everything in between.

Natalie Taylor:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). I agree, Val, it’s so cool when Slack starts getting a bunch of notifications, and everybody’s giving each other a high five. But one that was really cool that I saw recently, that actually relates really well to this episode was, we heard from one of our clients who just had an all-company meeting. And they shared with us that on the meeting, they noticed so much representation, that they’re seeing company-wide of female scientists.

Natalie Taylor:

And they said that, their meeting was on Zoom, and they could see right there on the screen, how many scientists that were present, and so many of them were female. And I think that, that’s so cool to see our recruiting efforts come into play there. And our efforts to diversify our research and development team had been so successful, and was recognized by the client. I thought it was really cool.

Valerie McCandlish:

Definitely, Natalie, that was one of my more favorite moments that I’ve seen recently, too. And I think it really highlights just how proud we are of the work that we’re doing, because it is such an emphasis for us in general, is to be inclusive and equitable when we are hiring. And I think that’s a nice segue for what we’re going to be talking about today. And we’re going to get a great intro from K.C..

Natalie Taylor:

So with that, we will kick it over to K.C., to introduce Sevy Kraner, and discuss women in life science venture capital.

K.C. McAllister:

When it comes to venture capital and life science, you expect to see names like Flagship, ARCH and Bain, investing in places like Cambridge, San Francisco and Manhattan. While states like California, New York and Massachusetts continue to lead the nation in venture investments, the Midwest saw a dramatic growth in 2019 and 2020. Iowa, Ohio and Minnesota saw some of the highest year-over-year increases in VC assets under management. And with an abundance of global corporations and research universities leading innovation in biological and life sciences, the Midwest is consistently listed as an area to watch for healthcare venture capital opportunities.

K.C. McAllister:

But geography is not the only way VC is expanding. According to PitchBook, venture capital funding for female founded or co-founded companies in the United States has nearly doubled over the past decade, reaching a record of 19.4 billion in 2019. However, despite this growth, companies founded by female entrepreneurs still make up only a small percentage of VC deal count and struggle to raise as much as their male founded counterparts.

K.C. McAllister:

This may be because in 2021, VC is still primarily a male dominated industry, with more than 90% of venture capital leaders being men. Our guest today is breaking the mold as a female founder of a Columbus, Ohio based healthcare venture firm. Sevy Kraner, co-founder and managing partner of Pontem Capital, is here to talk about how she is leveraging her experience and expertise to make an impact on healthcare innovation, and expand opportunities for entrepreneurs in the region. Sevy, welcome to The Mix Tape.

Sevy Kraner:

Thank you so much, K.C.. What a great intro and a perfect setup for hopefully what we can accomplish today. And thank you so much for having me as your guest speaker today.

K.C. McAllister:

Oh, so excited to have you here. Thanks so much. So to begin, for our listeners, Sevy, that may not know who you are. If you could tell us a little bit about your journey, how did you get to Pontem Capital?

Sevy Kraner:

I would love to. Maybe I’ll start kind of from the beginning. So I’m from Columbus, Ohio, grew up here, and always loved healthcare. I’ve always been passionate about patient impact. Got a family of lots of doctors. So I’ve kind of had maybe that firsthand experience of what it means to provide care for patients. Started my journey in Columbus, ultimately went to school down at Vanderbilt, Nashville, Tennessee. And maybe actually kind of even framing, I left Ohio. I was like, oh, I’m not going to come back. I’m going to go to the East Coast. I’m going to be in the center of… as you mentioned, the center of healthcare.

Sevy Kraner:

And went to school in Nashville, was econ and neuroscience major. Was there and then I said, all right, I’m going to go up to New York. And I joined Jefferies & Company, which is an investment bank. I was part of their healthcare group, with offices in both New York, Nashville, L.A., and Boston at the time.

K.C. McAllister:

And let me ask you this, how many women were at Jefferies when you were there?

Sevy Kraner:

Actually, this is fascinating. My managing director was in Nashville, and she was my boss and hired on. So it was definitely a male dominated industry, but what a great role model she was for me as a female managing director, the head of the group, and of amazing reputation. So also maybe I guess kind of it was when I joined the team, it was feeling comfortable knowing that she understood kind of that woman perspective, and it is a male dominated industry, so-

K.C. McAllister:

That’s great. What a great example [crosstalk 00:05:24] started off-

Sevy Kraner:

Yeah, it was a great example, right? I went to New York, was at Jefferies, and learned so much from kind of everything. From deal, due diligence, mergers and acquisitions, took a company public, very entrepreneurial, very get your hands dirty and figure it out, amazing. From there, I guess my perspective was, I would love to jump into something that has more patient impact.

Sevy Kraner:

So I joined Forest Laboratories, which is now part of Allergan, so Big Pharma. And I was responsible for running branded product life cycle. So everything from commercial launching of a product, to end of life cycle management, everything from pricing and contracting. And even coming up with some of the names for the branded products. Loved that job, loved the team. Again, entrepreneurial, felt super patient impact, and just an amazing healthcare experience. Maybe I’ll add a personal touch into this. So while I’m in New York, I meet my husband. And we met in New York, but we grew up a mile away from each other.

K.C. McAllister:

Oh wow.

Sevy Kraner:

So he also was in investment banking at the time, in this little industry called commercial mortgage backed securities. So we get married and the market’s crashing in 2008, and he lost his job. So three months in, he’s unemployed. I’m like, “Wow, I married a winner. This is awesome.” And New York being so expensive, we got to figure out somewhere else to live. The markets are obviously not going to be great for a while. So we moved back to Columbus. I commuted for about a year. At the time, we’re like, oh, we want to have a family, and our families were in Ohio.

Sevy Kraner:

So I ended up saying I don’t want to be commuting to New York every week, although I loved the job. And I met my current business partner, Aaron Pitts, who was at Cardinal Health at the time, and invited me to join the radiopharmaceutical team and help with… as they build out their radiopharmaceutical, help with commercial and identifying new products to bring into the Cardinal Health business.

Sevy Kraner:

So joined Cardinal Health, spent five years there, commercializing business development strategy, and then I joined JobsOhio in its early days. I joined JobsOhio as an opportunity really to kind of network across the state. I loved Cardinal Health, but I was like, you know what? Maybe getting back into something super entrepreneurial, scale up company, I just had no visibility to anything that was in Ohio. So jumped into JobsOhio, and as an opportunity to network, having zero economic development experience, and really fell in love with the mission.

Sevy Kraner:

So if you think about Ohio and the institutes that we’re blessed with that are in our backyard, Cleveland Clinic, Case Western, University Hospitals, Ohio State, Nationwide Children’s, Cincinnati Children’s, UC… I mean, these are like top care providers in the world, top five. And I saw one, maybe a great examples of companies spinning out from these institutions, but ultimately getting capitalized elsewhere and growing up. And felt that there was a real opportunity at JobsOhio to use that platform to help anchor the very things that are being born here, and helping them grow here. And things like infrastructure, access to venture capital, entrepreneurial and talent, things that Ohio actually doesn’t have a great infrastructure set up for.

Sevy Kraner:

So it’s kind of how I got to Pontem Capital. At JobsOhio, Aaron and I led the Innovation Strategy and the Healthcare Strategy, and we founded the Innovation Districts. So there’s one up in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. And then we founded the venture arm of JobsOhio, which was really to push money into early stage companies, ultimately creating a funnel of opportunities of big companies that JobsOhio would ultimately help grow here.

Sevy Kraner:

So that’s kind of how we got to today. And today I’m here to talk about Pontem Capital, and that’s my journey. So it’s kind of all over the place, but learned everything from finance, marketing, big deal structure at Jefferies. And again, I love kind of I guess maybe the experience at JobsOhio, of meeting some of the most amazing entrepreneurs, amazing researchers and their stories, their technologies they’re ultimately trying to bring to the healthcare economy and patients. So super excited about kind of what we’re doing today.

K.C. McAllister:

That’s great. And clearly, you have a unique journey and background that positions you well for the work that you were looking to do now at Pontem. For our listeners that don’t know, I’m just going to take a quick step back though. Sevy, if you could explain what JobsOhio is.

Sevy Kraner:

Yeah. So JobsOhio is the economic development organization for the State of Ohio. It was privatized when Kasich was governor. And basically the thought was, if Ohio is going to be the best across these sectors, so that we focus on nine sectors, and we’re going to have… And it’s all about job growth, capital investment in the state, we should hire industry veterans, industry executives that have relationships across the country in the sector of, whether it’s automotive, healthcare, agriculture, or IT. And use those industry executives to help create a strategy for Ohio to be better positioned across those nine very diverse sectors.

Sevy Kraner:

So healthcare is a little bit different. We’re blessed with, like I said, some of the great research institutes. We also have amazing companies like Cardinal Health, Steris, Gojo. And there’s maybe this gap of, well, early stage. And maybe this is also prevalent in IT as well. Early stage companies in healthcare and IT, are the major source of job growth in the US. And their funding is different than big companies with Job Creation Tax Credit, they’re early, they’re more risky.

Sevy Kraner:

So we tried to align, how do we create a incentive structure that is more appropriate for higher risk type companies? And knowing that we create a lot of that stuff, we’re just not trapping it. They ultimately get acquired or have capital sources that sit on the coast. And as a result, entrepreneurs that have five, six people, end up moving to places where they’re getting 10, 15, $20 million raises. And those scale up opportunities then move to places like California and in Boston.

Sevy Kraner:

JobsOhio, the strategy was let’s create a full continuum to help healthcare and IT companies that are founded in Ohio, that have reasons to be in Ohio, have access to capital. So that we can scale them, so they’re the next big job creators in the state.

K.C. McAllister:

And they stay in Ohio.

Sevy Kraner:

Yeah. And JobsOhio is the economic development organization which provides incentives to companies to create jobs and invest in Ohio.

K.C. McAllister:

Okay. And a bit unique from the standpoint of, it’s not a government agency.

Sevy Kraner:

No, it’s private. Yep.

K.C. McAllister:

But definitely supported by-

Sevy Kraner:

So we work with the state. So any type of Job Creation Tax Credits, obviously we work with the state to get sign off and approval on all of those projects. And again, it all benefits the state as Ohio becomes more diverse across nine sectors, job creation and opportunities like that.

K.C. McAllister:

Okay. Thank you for that. So again, that brings us to today. So what is Pontem Capital?

Sevy Kraner:

Yeah. So Pontem Capital is a company that we founded on June 1. It is a 100% healthcare venture firm, Midwest-focused, female owned. So our goal is to raise 50 to a $100 million. And again, given the experience that we saw at JobsOhio and our prior careers in healthcare, there is such an ample opportunity of companies spin out of IP, that is not just Ohio, but really the lower Midwest. So we’ve expanded our network to UPMC, up in Ann Arbor, University of Michigan, Michigan State, and Indiana. They have the same dynamic of not having a lot of capital, and anyone city may be too small.

Sevy Kraner:

So our whole portfolio is, let’s look at the Midwest as a whole, and be just healthcare, we’ll be broadly across healthcare. And one might position this as a triple impact. So financial ROI, of course, we’re a venture capital firm, we have to produce returns for LPs, I think we can absolutely do that.

Sevy Kraner:

The second one would be regional impact. So again, our goal, our long term vision is, we bear a lot of the original IP and company formation here in the Midwest. We have a really hard time keeping it, because companies need access to capital. So providing a more vibrant jobs for the Midwest, and a more innovative brand. Because we know it all starts here and exists here, and how can we highlight that?

Sevy Kraner:

And then the third impact is social. So maybe there’s a couple of ways to bifurcate kind of the social impact. First one being healthcare, we’re passionate about impacting patient lives. Want to make sure that we’re investing in companies that have that same motivator of how does this improve care? How does this improve a patient life? How does this improve, whether it’s cost operations of our healthcare system? And then the other social impact, which I’m super passionate about is changing a metric.

Sevy Kraner:

So 10% of women run venture capital today, that’s actually grown a ton. That’s still a awful number that needs to change. And we’re passionate about changing that 10% metric in being a woman-owned firm. So there’s another social impact. And maybe I’ll just add on this too, is that, I have three young daughters, so proud to be a role model for my daughters, and show them that they can do everything from running a healthcare company, to running a venture fund. So whatever is in kind of their wheelhouse, trying to provide, be a great role model for them, and create opportunities for other women.

K.C. McAllister:

Absolutely, love it. Well, and as we talked about, right?

Sevy Kraner:

Yeah.

K.C. McAllister:

So you were first experienced there at Jefferies, you were afforded that opportunity.

Sevy Kraner:

I was.

K.C. McAllister:

And so now it’s a chance for you. So specifically on the female leadership front, Sevy, how do you see that manifesting, right? How do you start to move that metric through the work that you’re doing with Pontem?

Sevy Kraner:

Yeah. So I think there’s a couple of things. I think first, maybe I guess if I reflect on… We spun this off, June 1, we’ve been at it for four months, and amazing experience. Like I said, the people that we’ve been networked into, the relationships that we’ve developed, all fantastic. There is a hurdle though of venture capital, or changing metrics like being a 10%. In that, the system is set up where that companies and LPs, other limited partners don’t want to invest in first or second funds.

Sevy Kraner:

So in this era of inclusion and diversity, being an emerging manager is super difficult to actually penetrate and make that change. Given, like I said, the system is set up where, hey, as a corporation, we love what you’re doing. Come back to us on your third fund. So there’s this kind of catch-22 of, well, if you’re wanting to support female emerging manager and help change this metric, we have to get past this is first, second, third fund. And look at credentials, history, backgrounds, skills, relationships as other indicators.

Sevy Kraner:

I think the other thing, which we’re not specifically targeting female entrepreneurs. But there is this self selection process of, hey, having a venture owned by a woman, there’s a relationship that maybe, hey, I attract naturally more female founded companies because we talk different, we act different. And like you said, my first experience at Jefferies was, I had a great role model, my boss was a female. And she’s the one who hired me. And there was this level of, hey, she’s got my back, she’s done this, she’s led by example.

Sevy Kraner:

So we hope like I said, that we’re creating this funnel of opportunities to support diversity, not just women either. Just across of, we’re open minded, we’re looking to change statistics, and look at the best deals. And hopefully like I said, having a female as being at the helm of Pontem Capital would allow us to see more diverse entrepreneurs.

K.C. McAllister:

That’s great. Love it. So again, only four months here as you and Aaron are starting, and going around and having a lot of these conversations, introducing Pontem Capital to some of the different players in the region. Sevy, what has been the response so far?

Sevy Kraner:

Like I said, I think we’ve done a great job of building Ohio relationships, given our JobsOhio roles, Cardinal Health is based here in Columbus, Ohio. I think the expanding to places like Pittsburgh, Ann Arbor, or Indianapolis, overwhelming need, overwhelming recognition for, wow, we love to partner with Pontem Capital when you guys get your fund raised. It’s definitely a shared dynamic across kind of the lower Midwest of powerhouses.

Sevy Kraner:

When you think about it, I mean, University of Michigan, UPMC, Cleveland Clinic, Mayo. I mean, these are all in the Midwest, and complete response of happy to include Pontem as potential funder, access to deal flow, would love for you guys to be part of a strong syndicate. So again, I think we’re targeting an area that sees the need and values partnerships, values the fact that we’re here walking the streets, have the deep relationships.

Sevy Kraner:

I mean, Columbus is great. It’s three hours from all of those great places. I think the other thing like I said, would be just the networks. So literally meeting people that maybe would’ve never crossed our paths before, and having this open-door relationship of, here’s a deal that I’m seeing, or here’s something coming down the pipe. Or, an entrepreneur reaching out, being like, I’d love to share what I’m doing. So that’s maybe what motivates me.

Sevy Kraner:

I think the other thing that’s super interesting, it is, we’ve got two people that have been helping us either stand up Pontem Capital, advising us on deal flow, and really just connecting us to their network and global brands. Toby Cosgrove, the former CEO of the Cleveland Clinic has been instrumental in helping us kind of get to where we’re at. Rich Ferrari, he went to Ashland University, he’s now out on the West Coast and has a fund, has taken four medtech companies public, wealth of experience.

Sevy Kraner:

And he’s like, “I would love to help out, and advise you guys on making the best deals and, you know, standing up your organization.” So just the willingness to help has been amazing. Like I said, it’s been a fantastic experience. I mean, everything, too, from setting up your business, getting a checking account, finding office space, and things that I guess I would’ve just never really thought about, but it’s a ton of work founding a startup. It’s been great, an amazing learning experience and happy to be here.

K.C. McAllister:

Oh, that’s so exciting. So when you talk about somebody like Toby Cosgrove, who is such a big brand name. Not just in Ohio, but to your point, really nationally and globally, for that fact, based on the great work he did up at the Cleveland Clinic. What was it about what you guys were doing that got him excited?

Sevy Kraner:

I think it’s a couple of things. I think it’s focusing on the Midwest. Obviously, he’s a huge brand like I said, across all of healthcare. By giving back to Cleveland, and giving back to the Midwest, supporting a woman-owned entity. Helping us find deal flow, connecting us to thought leaders that are going to be able to provide real time feedback on some companies that we’re launching. It’s a different model, right? It’s, we’re here, we’re in the Midwest, and we’re committed to the Midwest. And he’s got deep relationships and big, big venture capital firms on the coast. So I think he saw this as a super unique opportunity.

K.C. McAllister:

What a huge compliment, to you, to Aaron, and to the work that you guys are doing. So we’ve talked about the different institutions, right?

Sevy Kraner:

Yeah.

K.C. McAllister:

They are, again, top five in the world. And oftentimes both from a research standpoint, as well as the medicine itself. When you look at the opportunities coming out of these kinds of institutions, historically, is there a case study? Is there an example of one that kind of highlights why this work is so important?

Sevy Kraner:

Yeah. So maybe I’ll start with I think AveXis, it is maybe one of the greatest case studies that we’ve had visibility to, and really kind of how we put in motion the Innovation Districts at JobsOhio, the Growth Capital Fund at JobsOhio, and ultimately why we’re founding Pontem Capital. AveXis was a gene therapy company that was a spin out at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. And it is a gene therapy for babies that are born with SMA. So babies that can’t hold their head up straight. And often these kids are given a death sentence by the time they’re 12 or 18 months old.

Sevy Kraner:

This gene therapy that was founded by the researcher down at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio state, is a injection that ultimately would allow a baby to go on and live a normal life. The IP started here, the researchers were founded here. We had some seed funding in the beginning. Ultimately, Columbus, Ohio at the time, and this is about five years ago, did not have any type of capital that would help this company scale, grow, continue on its clinical trials and research.

Sevy Kraner:

We didn’t have some of the infrastructure like wet lab space that allows for an entrepreneur to do their research in a non-academic setting. So ultimately, this company exited Ohio, went to places like San Diego, Chicago, it was founded elsewhere, and grew to… I mean, I want to say they probably have more than 800 jobs now. They got acquired by Novartis for $9 billion. And none of that is left in Columbus, Ohio, which again, is where this great IP is founded and the impact to patients.

Sevy Kraner:

Like I said, I think there’s stories that highlight the work that Nationwide Children’s has done, and the Ohio State has done, but AveXis is a great example of a company that literally is providing life-saving treatments. At the time, there hasn’t been ways to help fuel those types of companies in Ohio, they have to be capitalized elsewhere and ultimately leave.

Sevy Kraner:

So that’s an example of a company that we were close with, we followed, and kind of got us to, wow, there’s a huge need. And that’s one example of many. So I think there’s biotech companies which obviously take a ton of capital, which our 50 to a $100 million at Pontem isn’t going to nearly be enough. But there is medical devices that get acquired by Boston Scientific, and J&J, and exported out. There’s health IT companies that, again, go to the coast because there’s more talent or there’s a network.

Sevy Kraner:

So again, we’re trying to create an opportunity and capital source to help those companies get further along here in the Midwest, so that when a company acquires them, or when there’s a big exit, there’s a 100 or 200 people here, and it’s harder to move. And the company’s more developed and got deep, deep roots here in Ohio or the Midwest. So that’s an example of wow, just game changing. So I mean, their impact on pediatrics, it’s families that are impacted, it’s just amazing it started here.

K.C. McAllister:

It’s a cure.

Sevy Kraner:

It’s a cure.

K.C. McAllister:

Right?

Sevy Kraner:

Yeah. It’s a [crosstalk 00:25:51].

K.C. McAllister:

So you go from a death sentence to a potential cure.

Sevy Kraner:

I mean, that’s here, it started here.

K.C. McAllister:

Yes, right. But it was the one that got away from an economic development [crosstalk 00:26:00].

Sevy Kraner:

Yeah. I mean, there’s a bunch that got away. And again, we’re not looking to trap any of these types of companies.

K.C. McAllister:

Certainly.

Sevy Kraner:

We’re looking to help scale them quicker, and provide an additional capital source so that they can have places like Ohio, and Indiana, and Michigan as places to call home.

K.C. McAllister:

No, that’s great. Well, another guest on one of our episodes, Sevy, was Eddie Pauline, who is the… I think you know, the new CEO and president of BioOhio. And he was talking about similarly kind of this moment in time that, a lot of the players… And he’s obviously speaking about Ohio, but it sounds like it’s also applicable to the Midwest, have had this aha moment, right?

Sevy Kraner:

Yep.

K.C. McAllister:

This recognition of, gosh, we’re doing all this great work. Let’s create an opportunity through an ecosystem, through support, through infrastructure, through investment, right? He specifically mentioned you-

Sevy Kraner:

Oh good.

K.C. McAllister:

… and the work that you’re doing at Pontem to create that opportunity where businesses can thrive.

Sevy Kraner:

For sure. And I think-

K.C. McAllister:

And they can choose to do so here.

Sevy Kraner:

It’s great. I think Eddie, again, he’s just taken the reins at BioOhio, and obviously in a wonderful organization that would support everything that we’re ultimately trying to do. So I think there is, I think you’re right. There is this moment of time where we clearly… The Midwest is blessed with these amazing assets. I think there’s a recognition of, wow, the world is growing. Healthcare is super important, even in downturns, and recessions, and COVID, healthcare continues to grow. I think venture capital and healthcare has outpaced IT for the first time ever-

K.C. McAllister:

Yes.

Sevy Kraner:

… over the last couple of quarters. So there’s a ton of tailwinds here. There’s a unique opportunity. Like I said, Aaron and I are blessed that we have these deep, deep relationships across the Midwest, to see deals, have access to entrepreneurs. And like I said, with Eddie, again, supporting kind of the Ohio region, it seems like everything’s aligning to create a great opportunity, and help fuel some of these companies that start here, and have life saving objectives.

K.C. McAllister:

No, that’s fantastic.

Sevy Kraner:

So it’s amazing.

K.C. McAllister:

Yeah. Well, and I know last year on the healthcare life science sector, there were 81 IPOs.

Sevy Kraner:

Yeah.

K.C. McAllister:

In the middle of COVID, which is kind of incredible. And this year is set to outpace that. So there’s definitely a lot of capital being infused into the industry. A lot of eyes on it, given the profile.

Sevy Kraner:

And I think COVID, I mean, it obviously highlighted that systems needs to change. It needs to change quickly. And in times where telehealth is super important, digital. I mean, it’s created I think like you said, an opportunity that there’s tailwinds, and they’re growing, and health is so important. Healthcare is so important, and access for everyone is super important. So how do we create a system that can provide the best care equally, amongst multiple people and have real life saving impact?

K.C. McAllister:

And do so efficiently.

Sevy Kraner:

And efficiently, yes.

K.C. McAllister:

Which has not always been the case.

Sevy Kraner:

At a better cost.

K.C. McAllister:

Right. All of those things.

Sevy Kraner:

I mean, that’s a hard thing to solve, but it’s also the great things about entrepreneurs, and early-stage companies that have a vision, and have an opportunity or a solution. And making sure that all those solutions don’t just happen in places like California. And they happen here, and making sure that we can help those opportunities come to life.

K.C. McAllister:

That’s great. That’s great. So four months in, we talked about the positive. Have there been any challenges so far?

Sevy Kraner:

Yeah, we’re a startup, so obviously there’s challenges with like I said, finding… We need a banking account, and we need access to legal documents, and office space, and insurance. I mean, these are all things that maybe as working for bigger companies, I’ve always taken for granted of navigating that type of stuff. It’s a time suck, but it’s like… I mean, like I said, it’s, wow, there’s a lot of things. Aaron and I are self-funding this, so it’s like, wow, this stuff is really expensive and whatnot. So I think there’s that element.

Sevy Kraner:

I think the other element which I had addressed earlier of, there’s this system that’s set up of big institutions, right? 50, a $100 million checks. So our goal is to raise 50 to a $100 million. So when you’re carving off smaller, it’s… You hear the story of, it takes me the same amount of due diligence to write a $5 million check as a $100 million check. So, sorry, you’re too small.

K.C. McAllister:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sevy Kraner:

And then there’s the flip side of, well, you’re an emerging manager, so $50 million is super ambitious and come back to us when you’re at a 100 or at a 150. Like I said, there’s a system that we’re committed to changing and impacting, and providing opportunities. And like I said, we’re trying to activate our own institutions of, hey, you send your money to the coast to have others run it. We’re trying to create an opportunity here to send your money into someone that’s committed to the Midwest, and fueling opportunities in the Midwest, which should benefit everybody.

Sevy Kraner:

So we’re looking for LPs that align with our triple impact, financial ROI, regional ROI, and social ROI, and we’ll get there. So I think overall, like I said, it’s startup hurdles and learning as we go. We’ve changed our strategy a couple of times. But having two people, it can be super nimble and quick to respond, get the feedback and go from there. So yeah, it’s been a learning experience for sure.

K.C. McAllister:

Absolutely. Well, and you are obviously incredibly impressive, Sevy.

Sevy Kraner:

Oh, thank you.

K.C. McAllister:

So if we’re going to bet on somebody to make this work, it’s going to be you, right?

Sevy Kraner:

Yeah, I appreciate it. I’m excited [crosstalk 00:31:44].

K.C. McAllister:

And definitely as a female leader in healthcare, we want you to succeed.

Sevy Kraner:

Oh, thank you so much. I appreciate those kind words. And like I said, I think, yeah, it’ll be a challenge, we’ll get there, and it’s exciting. And there’s so many like I said, moving parts of things that are changing here in the Midwest, and opportunities continue. Like examples of individuals that are successful in creating this flywheel of entrepreneurialism, and capital raising, and healthcare. So it’s exciting.

K.C. McAllister:

It is exciting. So any closing thoughts that you want to leave with our listeners today?

Sevy Kraner:

No. I think I kind of really talked about it. Like I said, I feel like I’m blessed in my career, having experience from multi-hundred million dollar M&A and IPOs. And having that New York experience in Big Pharma, to JobsOhio and having this great connectivity in Cardinal Health. Blessed to work with Aaron 12 years. I mean, having a startup, like you’ve got to know the person that you’re working with. And I think there’s so much opportunity. Like I said, I’m so motivated by these entrepreneurs, researchers, individuals that are committed to change and sharing their stories.

Sevy Kraner:

Maybe as a little side note, Pontem means bridge in Latin. So really, I think one of our underlying missions is bridging those inspired investors to these inspired inventors, the people that create this stuff, and that want to change the world. And making sure there’s this continuity of these people exist, they’re willing to put in some hard work. And connecting them to a capital source and sharing their stories and the impact that they can make on healthcare. So those are my closing thoughts.

K.C. McAllister:

Oh, I love it. I love it. Well, before we let you go, there’s a couple of questions we do ask all of our guests. So the first one, Sevy, is what is the best or your favorite interview question that you’ve ever been asked or asked?

Sevy Kraner:

A question that I always like to ask, which really has nothing to do with generally a job that I’m hiring for is, if you had any superpower, what would it be and why? It is interesting because everything from being invisible to flying. And then you get some really insightful superpower. I just think it’s interesting. I have three young kids, too, so we talk about superpowers a lot. But that’s an interview question that I think requires a little bit of reflection.

K.C. McAllister:

And what’s yours? What would be your superpower?

Sevy Kraner:

So my superpower is, I think it would be amazing to take a day in the life of someone else’s shoes. And experience their culture, experience what they see from their perspective. Anyone, like men, female, diversity, people across the world, people that have different insights. And literally just living and feeling the way that they would feel on a day-to-day. I think it’s just such an opening-eye perspective. I don’t know, that would be-

K.C. McAllister:

Very cool.

Sevy Kraner:

Yeah. That would be my superpower.

K.C. McAllister:

Very cool. Oh, I love it. Well, I’m sure there’s some other ones that you probably have in there already. Well, good. And then the other question is obviously it wouldn’t be The Mix Tape if we didn’t have a playlist. So what is the song that we should have on our playlist from you?

Sevy Kraner:

So the song that I love right now, and again, there’s… I mean, I love music.

K.C. McAllister:

Me too.

Sevy Kraner:

So I could pick a thousand different ones. The song that I really love right now for a couple of reasons is Colors by Black Pumas.

K.C. McAllister:

Sure.

Sevy Kraner:

It’s a new song, but I went to their concert recently. It was like the first one since I think I’ve been to while during COVID. Got to meet the lead singer, which was fantastic.

K.C. McAllister:

Oh wow.

Sevy Kraner:

But it’s such an upbeat song. And I don’t know, I just feel like in this time of the last 18 months of change and whatnot, it just… Like I said, it lifts me up and just makes you appreciate everything around. I think the other thing too, which is, Aaron and I… I have a very distinct memory. Aaron and I were driving to Athens, Ohio, it was probably last summer. Beautiful day, we were going to meet with a company that we had just invested in at JobsOhio. And we were talking about the great things that we had just accomplished, the Innovation Districts, creating the Growth Capital Fund, and in the background… And we’d maybe started talking about, “Man, we could do this on our own, or there’s such an opportunity here to invest more within healthcare. Could we ever activate our own network to invest in us, to focus on healthcare?”

Sevy Kraner:

So maybe the first inklings of Pontem Capital. And this song was in on the background, I was like, “Oh, I love this song. We were talking about that.” So I don’t know, maybe just a culmination situational, but-

K.C. McAllister:

Absolutely.

Sevy Kraner:

… I think it’s a fantastic song, and it always gets me excited and motivated.

K.C. McAllister:

Kind of your anthem, huh?

Sevy Kraner:

Yeah. But right now, like I said, I changed, but I love that song.

K.C. McAllister:

Right. We’ll ask you again. Well, we’ll have to have you back in a year or so, and you can tell us where Pontem has gone. But-

Sevy Kraner:

I would love to.

K.C. McAllister:

… thank you, Sevy, for being here today. Again, our guest was Sevy Kraner, managing partner at Pontem Capital, a female-owned Midwest based healthcare focused venture firm. So thank you again, Sevy.

Sevy Kraner:

Thank you so much for having me, K.C..

K.C. McAllister:

And best of luck.

Sevy Kraner:

Awesome. Thank you.

K.C. McAllister:

Thank you.

Natalie Taylor:

Thank you to Sevy and K.C. for a great episode. And for shedding light on the fact that female founded venture capital companies have nearly doubled in the past decade. But even in 2021, that is only 10%. So that’s a pretty remarkable statistic. I love that she is striving to not only build an impressive career, but is also striving to be a role model for her three daughters.

Valerie McCandlish:

Those are great takeaways, Natalie. And some additional perspective that I thought was really remarkable was that, in 2020, there were 81 total IPOs. And then at the time of this recording, Sevy had mentioned that we were already on track to outpace the number of IPOs for this year. So I’m so interested to see how we wrap up 2021 with that official total. But in terms of that success, it’s just really amazing that for the first time ever, healthcare is actually outpacing IT. So I think with women like Sevy leading the charge and creating more entrepreneurial diversity, it’s so motivating to see the future of healthcare and venture capital.

Natalie Taylor:

That’s really well said, Val. And I really like this episode as a follow-up to Eddie’s episode with K.C., from BioOhio. Because it really reiterates the importance of the great work being done here in the Midwest, and specifically in Ohio, there’s such great potential. And it’s so exciting to see people like Sevy, who think the same way. She’s just leading the way.

Valerie McCandlish:

Also, I just have to add, I love Sevy’s song choice, Colors by Black Pumas because that’s such an amazing song, I love that. And if you think about the drive from Columbus down to Athens, which is so beautiful, if you’ve ever made it before. Hearing that song on that drive is perfect. And how special for her to remember that as a time to be with her business partner, and traveling to go down to see a client. And with that, we’d love to remind you that you can find this song and others on The Mix Tape playlist, which is on Spotify. And we would love for you to continue to like and subscribe to The Mix Tape Podcast. As always, thanks for being in the mix, we’ll see you next week.

 

Subscribe

Scroll to Top