I’ve had two big life changes recently. I am now legally a father and we moved to the beautiful mountains.
- We finalized the adoption – In late May, we finalized Isaiah’s (3 1/2) and Ethan’s (2 1/2) adoption. We’ve been their foster parents for two years and this is the culmination of a very long path. It was one of the two happiest days of my life and an incredible experience that I’ll write about separately in the coming weeks.
- We moved – We moved to the Wood River Valley/Ketchum/Sun Valley area in Idaho. This is a huge change from Dallas, but one that is perfect for us. We wanted to make a big change after the adoption. We considered staying in Dallas, but ultimately decided a bigger move was best for our family and Healthfundr. We seriously looked at San Francisco, Boise, Phoenix, and Sun Valley. In the end, Sun Valley was the best choice.
We’ve been here 2 1/2 weeks. I’ve been traveling 9 of those days and am still getting settled. On the family front, we’ve already joined the YMCA (this is a jewel), gone hiking and fishing, heard beautiful music at the Sun Valley Pavilion, and gone mountain biking. None of this took more than 10 minutes to get to.
Plus, look at those views.
Why we moved here
Let me be clear. This is an incredibly unique place for building a business and raising a family. On one hand, it provides the relationship-building and expertise benefits of a startup or capital markets hub, the cultural and educational opportunities of a much larger city, and the quality of life of a small town. All of this in one of the most naturally beautiful backdrops I’ve ever seen. On the other hand, there are some unique challenges that we’ll need to face because of the location. But for Healthfundr and my family, this is the best choice.
A lot of people assume we would be in San Francisco or New York. I do spend a good amount of time traveling to these types of hubs, but hubs have very legitimate downsides too. Plus, healthcare is uniquely decentralized and 44% of healthcare startup investing is now happening outside of primary hubs. Our entire business is less focused on hubs than other types of startups, making the case for Sun Valley much stronger.
Regardless, this is a big personal bet on a non-traditional location. To provide some context to friends, colleagues, and others, I want to explain why we chose here. Most of my explanation revolves around Healthfundr (the personal life reasons are mostly obvious), but I’ll hit some points that are specific to my family.
1. We can directly increase Healthfundr’s opportunities to succeed
First, a basic intro to Healthfundr to provide some context.
Healthcare is experiencing a generational transformation that is being largely driven by innovative startups. However, finding, screening, and investing in these startups is nearly impossible for most investors.
We simplify this by matching investors with the most promising opportunities. Through Healthfundr, investors can invest alongside experienced investors in companies that have been pre-screened by both these experienced investors and third-party industry experts.
Note: If you’d like to learn more about what we’re doing at Healthfundr, I’d love to connect. You can email me or give me a call at 214-310-9400.
We’re building a big business in an enormous market that is being totally reshaped. There are lots of moving pieces and we have to execute well in a few critical areas.
- Cultivate relationships with investors and help them make smart investments
- Attract the most promising healthcare startups
- Attract healthcare industry, capital markets, and technology experts
- Navigate complex regulatory, market, scalability, and business model concerns
In each of these areas, being in this community can help us execute better and more efficiently.
A. The benefits of a hub, without many of the drawbacks
Being here combines the expertise and relationship-building benefits of a typical startup or capital markets hub, while avoiding many of the downsides.
We’ve already met many people with relevant, world-class experience that are interested in what we’re doing. This includes people that want to improve and invest in the future of healthcare, know how capital markets are changing, and broadly embrace innovation.
For example, the chairman of our board (Bill Boeger) is a former life sciences VC and CEO, and has lived here for ~20 years. A number of our investors and advisors also live here or split their time between here and other major hubs. They’ve extensively shared their expertise and relationships. They’ve helped refine our business model, secure critical early wins, and have introduced us to others that have freely shared their time, insight, relationships, and experience. Nearly everyone has shown an overall excitement for Healthfundr.
At the same time, we can avoid many of the downsides of traditional hubs. The primary startup and capital markets hubs have extraordinarily high operating costs, high competition and turnover for employees, often have long commutes, and have large levels of noise and distraction that can actually hinder progress.
We can more efficiently focus on building Healthfundr here. There are only a few places on earth where a similar situation is possible.
B. The region is a nexus of world-class expertise and networks
We’re in a relationship business. The better we get at building relationships, the more success we’ll see. Because the community is a nexus of relevant networks and expertise, we can build valuable relationships around the world more effectively.
Numerous conferences, events, informal gatherings, and more (such as the Allen & Company Conference) occur here. This brings in people from around the world.
The community’s reach also extends far beyond those that live and visit here. We’ve already met multiple people around that country that immediately get excited about us being here and want to introduce us to someone they know here. Likewise, people we’ve built relationships with here have introduced us to others around the country.
These experiences have shown us that this nexus of networks and expertise can directly increase our opportunities for success.
2. The right environment for my family
Crystal and I have long felt our sons would thrive in the outdoors. They’re only 2 1/2 and 3 1/2, but they have never-ending reserves of energy and curiosity. Plus, they’ve experienced some of the worst of humanity and came to us extremely broken-hearted. They’ve transformed in the two years we’ve had them, but we want them to be able to completely move on.
We want them to grow up in an environment where they can develop confidence and self-reflection. They’ll need these skills as they grow and confront the memories and questions about their early lives. My wife and I love the outdoors and think being closely tied to the outdoors will help them cultivate this.
However, we don’t want them to miss out on cultural and educational opportunities that will develop them intellectually and socially. Here, they’ll have more of these opportunities than many much larger cities. This is one of only a few places on earth where we can provide them all of these things.
What the move is not
A move to create a “lifestyle business”
A few friends initially thought we moved to create a lifestyle business, which is a bit of a pejorative in the startup world. This could not be further from the truth. I am even more focused than ever on Healthfundr’s mission to save lives and improve healthcare by transforming the early-stage investing market.
As a startup founder here, lifestyle and quality of life means that the little spare time I have is spent on the things that truly invigorate and re-energize me. Quality time is higher quality.
Personal time is mountain biking, hiking, skiing, and more. Family time is fishing, camping, rock climbing lessons at the YMCA, and skiing. The fresh air, mountains, and sense of community help me focus and make me a better founder, father, and spouse.
It’s tempting to think that moving here is some sort of shortcut. It’s not. We still have to build relationships, earn trust, and deliver value, just as we would anywhere else. What we gain is the ability to more efficiently execute as part of a tight-knit community that (1) we will contribute to and (2) will benefit from what we’re doing.
How I am moving forward
Now that my family and I have are here, I’m focusing on integrating into the community and navigating how best to build Healthfundr here. This could cover much more detail, but I’ll just introduce a few important areas for now.
This year, we’re focusing on two main areas at Healthfundr, growing our investor base and streamlining our internal processes. In both areas, the relationships we build will help us immensely. This is where I will be spending all of my time in the coming months.
Attracting talent as we grow
I think my bragging during team meetings is creating just the right level of envy because other current team members already want to move here. We want them to come, but we also want to bring new employees here as we grow.
This will mean hiring investor relationship and investment managers, software developers, operations experts, marketers, compliance professionals, and others. To do this, we’ll need to first make Healthfundr a successful and highly-appealing place to work.
Second, we’ll have to create confidence that potential employees can more broadly build a career and life in the area. This will take collective effort beyond Healthfundr to create more opportunities. For us, this falls into three main areas.
- Housing options for a broader range of family circumstances and income levels
- Other employers that hire people with similar skills as we do
- Broad access to other important elements of a rich life, such as healthcare, education, and entertainment
This will take time and some pieces already appear to be in place, but it is something we’re already thinking about and will help cultivate.
Being in the outdoors
Building a startup and having two small children gives me little free time, but I plan to use this limited time on things that keep me focused and energized. Living here let’s me do this much more easily than I could elsewhere.
Hopefully, this gives a little insight into why I moved myself and company to a small town in Idaho. I strongly believe that being here will make each important part of my life more fulfilling and successful. My startup will thrive and we’ll build a better life for our family.