Q4 2017 > VOLUME 1

Welcome to the inaugural installment of our quarterly newsletter – Catalyst! Once a quarter we hope to bring news, trends and insights to the leaders in our network that have been instrumental in our growth and who are transforming healthcare as we know it. In this issue, we’ll spend time with Hugh Ma, the founder and CEO of Robin Care, as well as explore some of the motivations behind our investment in his company. We’ll also touch on what we believe to be an effective approach to building a complete hiring strategy, and wrap up with some trends we’ve been seeing across the industry. We hope you like it, and welcome feedback both on this issue, as well as what you’d like to hear about in the future. Happy reading!
— Tim Gordon, Founder & Managing Partner

Interview with Hugh Ma

Interview with Hugh Ma

Hugh Ma is the founder and CEO of Robin Care, a Silicon Valley Based Digital Health startup that is tackling the complex navigation of Cancer care. Through their technology-enabled service platform, Robin Care provides high-touch advocacy, coaching, counseling and guidance to Cancer patients as they fight their disease, with the aim of dramatically improving the patient experience, reducing costs and increasing the quality of outcomes. We sat down with Hugh to learn more about the business, his background, and why he’s passionate about solving this problem.

Q: Hugh, tell us a little bit about Robin Care and its mission

A: Without fail, people who have been touched by cancer understand how terrible the experience is. And what they learn, is that cancer isn’t just a clinical situation, it has a domino effect on everything that goes on with the cancer patient and their families. That suffering is unnecessary, and that’s what our mission is to change. Our mission is to bring to people the help and guidance that completely changes their cancer experience. With cancer, one thing that we hear a lot, is ‘if you guys were involved, I would have known on Day 1 what I now know on day 300, and that would have changed everything.’

Our mission is about 3 things: It’s about changing the lives of cancer patients and their loved ones. It’s unique that we’re able to bring to it a level of expertise and experience both in healthcare and entrepreneurship, which means that we can find the business models and the ways to navigate healthcare that can affect that change. Our second mission is to make sure we leverage our own capabilities the way we should, and our relationships the way we should, to achieve that impact on patients. And the last mission is around meaningful change in healthcare; the model we’re bringing to healthcare is the kind of thing you saw in earlier forms with companies like Livongo and Omada, etc. We stand on their achievements and their shoulders in taking it to the next level, in using digital in healthcare that hasn’t been seen before, and it’s being embraced by the market strongly.




Tim Gordon, Founder & Managing Partner, Aequitas Partners
It's Not Just Business, It's Personal

In December, 2016, Hugh Ma, Founder and CEO of Robin Care, partnered with us to help build his leadership team. To make our partnership possible, we opted for an equity stake in Robin Care, as opposed to traditional cash fees. This article describes the motivation behind that decision.

In 2013, one of my best friends was diagnosed with Stage IV gastric cancer. Alex was a life-of-the-party type: young, active, vibrant, handsome as hell – the guy had to bring extra shirts to the bar because he would sweat so much from dancing. I remember sitting in Central Park discussing the companies we were starting – mine in healthcare executive search, his in on-demand prescription delivery – we were two 30-somethings on the cusp of the rest of our lives; both perfectly healthy, if a tad overworked and sleep-deprived. Then one week later, Alex was given 4 months to live. As a budding entrepreneur, Alex didn’t have health insurance. So not only was he staring down the barrel of an incurable disease, he was facing $20,000 chemo treatments every other week for the foreseeable future.

Confronting one’s impending mortality tends to stir up one of two responses: wilt, or fight. Fortunately for Alex, he had two things going for him: 1) A strong network of family and friends he could lean on for emotional and even financial support, and 2) He didn’t understand the meaning of the word ‘quit.’ Like a sponge, Alex absorbed every piece of information he could find on nutrition, exercise, Eastern medicine; you name it, Alex researched it and then tried it out himself. It got to the point where 10 months later – a full half-year beyond his prognosis – Alex was educating his doctors on what he was doing in between treatments, and even giving speeches to other cancer patients to share his approach.



How Internal, Retained and Contingency Recruiting All Play a Role In An Effective Hiring Strategy

Tim Gordon, Founder & Managing Partner, Aequitas Partners
A Holistic Approach to Hiring

Successful entrepreneurs understand that the bedrock of a great business is its human capital, which is why growth-stage firms (and companies of all sizes, for that matter) place such a strong emphasis on finding the right talent. But behind the somewhat obfuscated advice to “hire great people” lies a cold, hard truth: Finding those great people is hard work! Identifying, interviewing, and eventually onboarding top-tier candidates is a time-consuming, labor-intensive exercise, that’s as much an art as it is a science. And while entrepreneurs understand their companies and hiring needs better than anyone – and most are quite adept at wearing many hats – there often aren’t enough hours in the day to execute the process effectively.

One question I hear all the time from CEOs is, “What’s the best way to leverage all of the hiring formats available to me?” What they’re really asking is, “How do I maximize my time and my dollars spent?” We know how difficult it is to make those growth-stage operational and budgetary decisions; there are infinite ways to spend what amounts to a finite sum of money and time. Having spent portions of my career in all three arenas – contingency, in-house (internal) and retained, I have some expertise on the topic. I strongly believe that all three can be combined into a holistic hiring strategy – The trick is figuring out just the right mix.


Industry Pulse:

Themes We See Across Healthcare IT

Industry Pulse

The relentless pace of innovation and boundary-pushing in healthcare technology has shown few signs of slowing. Even with tremendous uncertainty in Washington, the value-based care boulder is already rolling down the proverbial hill, and investors – if even a tad more cautiously – are still finding value and opportunity in the space.

We are fortunate to have hundreds of conversations each week with leaders across the industry, from CEOs and VC’s to sales leaders and marketers. The ebb and flow of these conversations tells a story, and when taken together, allows us to form some opinions about where our industry has been, and where it might be going. If nothing else, it’s a humbling exercise trying to keep up, but we have a lot of fun attempting to keep our fingers on the pulse. Here, we’re trying to encapsulate some of what we’re seeing.


AQP Journal


A great read for any current or aspiring leader, and a cautionary tale of how influence can be lost, simply by gaining it in the first place. We think this book has great relevance to how we assess and understand the way executives approach building and leading world-class teams.
The Power Paradox
3 Number of new Aequitas Clients in Q3
10 Number of digital health funding deals over $100M through 1H 2017
50 Digital health companies on the Inc. 5,000 (up from 17 in 2015, and 10 in 2014)
Aequitas Partners

New York, New York