Town Hall Ventures to Focus on Building Companies Driving Higher Quality and More Affordable Care for Most Vulnerable Americans
New Partnership Is Led by Andy Slavitt, Trevor Price and David Whelan
May 8, 2018 — (Minneapolis, MN, and New York, NY) – Today, three health care industry leaders announced the formation of Town Hall Ventures, a venture capital firm that will seek to invest in health care technology and service companies transforming care delivery to America’s most vulnerable populations. The firm is being built on a foundation of broad and deep expertise in building companies to improve care in Medicare, Medicaid, risk-based care, complex conditions and in addressing social determinants of health. These areas of focus touch almost 120 million Americans and approximately $1.2 trillion in annual health care spending.
Town Hall Ventures will be led by Andy Slavitt, the former Administrator of the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (“CMS”) and Group Executive Vice President of Optum; Trevor Price, Founder of Oxeon Holdings, a retained executive search and investment firm; and David Whelan, Managing General Partner of predecessor firm Oxeon Ventures and formerly General Partner & CFO of investment firm Accretive LLC.
The Town Hall Ventures team brings a commitment to public service, extensive business experience and a strong track record in founding, investing in, and leading highly successful companies that have made a national imprint on our health care systems. Additionally, Town Hall Ventures will benefit from a unique network of mentors, experts and community leaders to support Town Hall’s portfolio company entrepreneurs as they endeavor to transform care in communities across the country.
The firm has been formed around a rare combination of entrepreneurial, executive, policy, regulatory, financial and investment expertise. As a former administrator of CMS, Mr. Slavitt brings a unique lens to the policies and regulations impacting Medicare and Medicaid populations. He also has over a decade of first-hand experience leading the growth of Optum from its inception into a large multi-billion dollar enterprise. Mr. Price, who is remaining in his role as CEO of Oxeon Partners, has created the leadership teams for many of the defining companies innovating in Medicare and Medicaid, including Evolent Health (NYSE: EVH), Landmark Health, Oak Street Health, Cityblock Health, Aspire Health, VillageMD and Bright Health, as well as having led Oxeon investments in each of these companies. Mr. Whelan brings a significant reputation as a health care investor who has developed, launched and invested in a number of companies at Oxeon Ventures and previously as General Partner and CFO of Accretive LLC, an approx. $500M AUM private equity firm, as well as Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group as a founder of the airline Virgin America. In addition to the three partners, the founding team includes: David Mishkin, Town Hall Ventures Investment Director with health care investment experience; Natalie Davis, Town Hall Ventures Director, and formerly Senior Advisor to CMS Administrator Slavitt; and Lauren Robb, Town Hall Ventures Investment Senior Associate, who was previously a Director at Optum- a health services, technology, and innovation company.
“As a nation we have significant health care infrastructure serving healthy populations while lower-income communities go underserved, leading to vastly poorer health outcomes,” said Slavitt. “We are at the beginning of a wave of innovation serving Medicare and Medicaid populations. Town Hall is being formed to help lead this massive and necessary shift. The answers are not always traditional; they involve investments in underlying systemic issues as well as innovative approaches that improve people’s health and well-being.”
Town Hall Ventures announced its first investments, including:
Cityblock Health, Inc., built in partnership with Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs to provide primary care, behavioral health, and human services to address unmet health and social needs in urban populations;
Somatus, Inc., an innovative company revolutionizing treatment and new models of care for chronic kidney patients;
Welbe Health, LLC a provider of integrated medical and social services to frail seniors who qualify for PACE.
Aetion, Inc., a provider of real-world analytics and evidence to help biopharma companies and payers better understand how drugs work in the real-world to enable value based care.
“Without Town Hall and the resources and expertise they bring to bear, our goal of transforming care for urban and low-income populations would be moving far slower. In a short time, they have helped us roll out services in our first community, hire a first-class leadership team, and prepare ourselves for the daunting set of challenges that often substantially slow market entry in new health care organizations. As a first-time entrepreneur, Town Hall surrounded me with a group of experienced leaders and operators across regulatory, management, fundraising, and technology unparalleled in health care,” said Iyah Romm, the CEO of Cityblock Health.
“Identifying talented entrepreneurs and helping them through the painstaking process of building a great company is something we are passionate about,” said Trevor Price. “We believe we will see more entrepreneurs whose missions are to serve the tens of millions of people whose lives can be improved by innovations that allow them to receive the absolute best quality of care, whether being treated at home and/or in other comfortable and low-cost settings.”
“Our objective is to be a catalyst and investing partner to spur substantial investment and entrepreneurial commitment to the rapidly emerging opportunity to support real health care solutions for Americans all over the country,” said David Whelan. “With Andy’s, Trevor’s and my personal involvement, we look forward to sparking a series of Town Hall companies over the next few years and supporting them to change health care for the better.”
About Town Hall Ventures
Town Hall Ventures is a venture firm headquartered in New York and Minneapolis that invests in health care companies primarily serving vulnerable populations covered by Medicare and Medicaid. With deep experience building businesses, serving in major public and private sector roles, building premier executive teams, and investing across technology and health care, Town Hall partners with entrepreneurs to build transformational businesses from the idea stage to the growth stage.
About Andy Slavitt
Andy is founding and general partner of Town Hall Ventures. Andy brings decades of private and public sector leadership in health care, business and technology. Over his career, Andy has led many of the most significant and successful initiatives in health care impacting millions of Americans and the shape of the health care system. Andy previously served as the Acting Administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) under President Obama. He spent a decade at Optum, an organization he helped lead from before its formal inception to the time where it exceeded $35 billion in revenue. In the 1990s, Andy was the founder and CEO of HealthAllies, a digital health company that served the un- and under-insured.
Andy is currently Board Chair of United States of Care, a national non-profit health advocacy organization he founded. Andy leads a number of national health care initiatives, including one on the future of health care, which he co-chairs at the Bipartisan Policy Center. Today he is a highly recognizable voice in health care, with a regular column in the USA Today and regular appearances on CNN, MSNBC and Fox. He is listed in the Politico 50 and was recognized by Modern Healthcare as one of the 10 most influential people in health care.
Andy graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School.
About Trevor Price
Trevor Price is founding and general partner of Town Hall Ventures. Trevor is also the Founder & CEO of Oxeon Partners, a retained executive search and investment firm in the health care technology and services industry. Trevor will continue in this role along with being a General Partner at Town Hall Ventures. During his time leading Oxeon, Trevor’s role as a trusted human capital partner to the CEOs and Venture/Private Equity investors behind many of the high growth innovative health care companies has been critical to their success and is of unique value to Town Hall Ventures. Trevor also led Oxeon’s investments in these companies and will continue to do this but now within the Town Hall Ventures mandate. He was previously a Partner and Senior Vice President at Daversa Health and has been an entrepreneur, starting and growing a variety of technology and service companies.
Trevor is an Adjunct Professor of Health Care Entrepreneurship at the Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business. Outside of his “day job”, he co-hosts A Healthy Dose, a podcast where he discusses the latest hot-topic issues with leaders across the health care industry. Trevor sits on the Board of Directors of Docent Health, Risalto Health and Prep For Prep, an organization supporting high-potential youths of color in New York City.
Trevor graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and currently lives in New York City.
About David Whelan
David Whelan is founding and general partner of Town Hall Ventures. David is Managing General Partner at Oxeon Ventures, a predecessor firm to Town Hall, where he has overseen the company’s previous investment portfolio and leads the firm’s venture start-up studio. Under David’s oversight, the ventures studio designs, provides initial capital for, incubates, and builds de novo or purpose-built-from-scratch health care companies. Before Oxeon, David served as CFO and General Partner of Accretive LLC, a private investment firm specializing in building disruptive startup companies. David was also Vice President of Corporate Development with the Virgin Group, where he led development of Virgin America.
Previously, David was an investment banker with Goldman Sachs in London and Sydney. He serves on the board of Friends of Hudson River Park Trust, an independent nonprofit dedicated to preserving and enhancing the Hudson River Park.
David holds a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Commerce from Bond University in Queensland, Australia. He currently lives in New York City.
Contact: Chris Fleming, (202) 631-0929 , email@example.com
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Adam Boehler, Founder and CEO of Landmark Health, visited Oxeon’s New York office for a Coffee Talk to share his insights on leadership and entrepreneurship.
If we’re not careful, our “recruiting shtick” for Landmark Health can roll off the tongue too easily. Too mindlessly. Too nonchalantly. A conversation with executives in the market usually goes something like this: “Yes…Landmark provides care for incredibly vulnerable patients, those with 6 or more co-morbidities…the frailest and most sick…compassion is most important…” And inevitably, later the conversation turns to “yes…they’re backed by a leading private equity firm… typically executive compensation is base, bonus, and equity… they have one of the best CEOs we know in the industry.” Then, there is an extended, pregnant pause as executives on the other end of the line process what they have just heard. This “double-bottom line” realization is a big deal.
Mission-driven health care companies are a big deal.
Landmark Health is driven by a clearly articulated company mission statement. In discussing their mission, Adam Boehler, CEO, shared “we are resolute in our delivery of high quality, comprehensive and compassionate care to individuals, wherever they reside and whenever they need it.” At Grand Rounds, there is a very palpable mission, but it’s more broad. Owen Tripp, CEO and Co-Founder of Grand Rounds, expressed a desire to “create a world where all patients can access expert medical advice to improve their lives.” Oxeon’s mission is to Make People Healthier, and everyone here embodies it on a daily basis.
While Grand Rounds is less explicit in its mission statement, don’t confuse a lack of packaging for lack of rigor. Before every meeting, the company shares a story about a patient, reinforcing why Grand Rounds exists. Sometimes it is an employee who conveys the experience. Sometimes an executive. Sometimes the company brings one of its patients to the meeting to explain how Grand Rounds helped them. In every meeting, the company mission is powerfully reaffirmed.
In a recent conversation, Owen shared:
“You have to ruthlessly uphold the mission, especially when the dollars get bigger, and you start enjoying more commercial success. When certain executives make decisions that may be viewed as practical and expedient in other companies, those same decisions may compromise mission at ours. Employees are watching. They watch to see if your personnel actions back up your words; if your sales decisions back up your words. It’s not enough to just launch with a great mission – you have to actively live and abide by it in all facets of the organization, every day and in every decision.”
By all indications, from the way the company conducts its business and to the demonstrable success they’ve enjoyed, the mission at Grand Rounds is fundamentally understood by every single person who goes to work there. An employee once hung up on Owen to answer a patient call. Now it’s common practice to cut internal meetings or conversations short to prioritize patients.
We asked Owen how the mission at Grand Rounds is embraced by the venture and private equity investors who sit on his Board of Directors. Our assumption was that most likely the mission at their institutional investment firms are divergent from the one present at Grand Rounds. Owen replied that “they are incredibly supportive of our Mission and the decisions we make… but I wonder whether that is because we have experienced great results from those decisions. I sometimes think whether it would be different if our results were different… less patience for mission-driven decision making. I find myself knowing that our results are BECAUSE of these decisions – they are inextricably linked and so I believe our investors will continue to be fully aligned with our mission and still fulfill their investment objectives.”
Mission Works. Why? Mission helps attract great people to your company and gives them a reason to care beyond the company’s financial performance. While mission attracts great people, it also gives them a decision-making framework that inspires them. It gives them something to go home feeling great about each night. (Side note: When Trevor’s kids were younger, they thought he was a doctor. He would go home, and they would ask – as little kids do – what Dad did that day. He would say “We made people healthier.” Ahhhhh, Dad’s a doctor! If you know Trevor, thank goodness that’s not the case…) Mission brings an entire organization together towards a common goal that is greater than any one individual, leading to an “engaged” workforce. This has been proven to lead to great companies that perform exceptionally well.
But a Mission has to be authentic. It can’t be mandated from the top, and it can’t exist to sell business. A well-conceived mission resonates because it works. And too often “bottom line” conversations are binary, leading to a distinction of whether the company is for-profit or non-profit. It’s the wrong question and a meaningless distinction. A company’s tax status doesn’t drive its potential impact. Rather, it is the mission, leaders, business plan, creativity, and culture that matter. In fact, not only does Mission matter, but a mission-orientation gives a company an opportunity to be truly disruptive – a chance to achieve that “double bottom line,” or in more relevant healthcare jargon, the “triple aim.”
As you saw (if not, watch this!), purpose and meaning are clear drivers for Adam at Landmark Health and are motivating factors for the entirety of their team. Landmark Health exists to provide better, in-home care to the most vulnerable of patients. It’s the reason a Nurse Practitioner responds to a 3 am house call; it’s the reason the technology and innovation teams travel to remote areas to test new telehealth products. It’s why client satisfaction and clinical outcomes are the most important criteria by which the executive team measures success. Net savings is a positive byproduct of this work, but more compelling is that Landmark is providing a fundamentally different—and more effective—clinical experience for patients.
At Oxeon, our mission to Make People Healthier was consciously conceived to be all-encompassing. That starts with us as individuals and as team members. This consciousness helps us identify, align and be part of our clients’ end goals rather than just fulfilling a discrete part of their needs. On Day One of our new employee training, as we orient our people around how to think beyond being a service provider, investor or entrepreneur, we examine our mission statement and how it serves to align the work we do. In a recent employee engagement survey, 100% of Oxeon employees indicated that they completely understood our mission and values, and strongly agreed that our company lives by them in all of our decision-making.
As we expand and incorporate new business lines and add new senior leadership, we’re working as hard as ever to keep our mission, our values, and our people at the center of what we do. We were recently given an opportunity to be deeply involved in a project that could have a substantial impact on patients who are newly diagnosed with breast cancer. The opportunity may negatively impact our operating income but profits did not factor into our decision to get involved. In fact, we consciously acknowledged the potential for loss and eagerly signed up to go forward in the name of our mission. While you are reading this article, 25% of our company is in a village in Guatemala delivering healthcare and building a clinic, all to Make People Healthier.
Mission enables us to do the “right thing,” even when it does not appear to be the “profitable thing.” These decisions empower us. Our employee engagement continues to grow, as we see in every quarterly culture survey. Applying our mission to every single person inside the company, to our clients and services, and to our investments and their objectives, is consistently aligning and empowering.
We call lots of health care leaders every year, and even if they’re not interested in the role or the idea we’re discussing, Oxeon’s mission resonates. Landmark Health’s mission resonates. Grand Rounds’ mission resonates. And it’s not just a catchy message up on the office wall. As companies like Landmark Health and Grand Rounds continue providing better care more cost-effectively, we all will continue to realize the power of Mission-driven companies, and most importantly patients will benefit from their care.
Trevor, the Founder and CEO of Oxeon Holdings, and Jacob, Director at Oxeon Partners, are committed to helping mission-driven healthcare leaders and executives build successful companies. Trevor, in his A.D.D-fueled existence as an entrepreneur, has started or turned-around 10 companies. It was only in this most recent chapter of his career, in starting Oxeon, that he fully discovered and realized the power of a Mission and Values driven organization. It is no coincidence that this chapter is the most enjoyable one to date. Jacob comes to Oxeon after working on the portfolio team at a national social venture philanthropy, and prior at a policy and research organization, committed to understanding what works to improve the lives of the most vulnerable kids and families. Trevor and Jacob are based in New York, NY.
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“I think health systems are starting to transform the way they think about patients, to think about them more as consumers and start providing services to them as they might experience in other industries. These services could include online access and making easier appointments or referrals. Healthcare systems need more real-time feedback on whether they are doing a great job with the patient and the patient experience. Part of the technology we’re building helps them focus on that and helps understand the patient sentiment throughout the journey.” – Paul Roscoe, CEO, Docent Health
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