Major tech companies are eyeing the healthcare world.
That could be a good thing for the industry, according to Krishna Yeshwant, a general partner and head of the Life Sciences team at GV, formerly Google Ventures.
He told Business Insider that when tech companies try to enter the healthcare space, their approach to competition could put them at an advantage. One of his colleagues once compared the different levels of competition to growing up as a bacterium versus as a mammal.
Here’s what that means: It’s relatively easy to start a consumer tech company. There are platforms to use, and really, you need only a little bit of capital. So you’ll frequently see a bunch of companies enter a particular space, and that intensifies the competitive pressure that much more. It’s similar to how bacteria duke it out on surfaces.
Health startups, particularly in life sciences, are an entirely different organism – the mammals in this analogy.
“Competitive pressures for mammals are far less than the competitive pressures for bacteria,” Yeshwant said.
For example, there are often only one or two companies in a particular space. Yeshwant pointed to Aspire Health, a company GV invested in that’s in the palliative health space.
“There’s not another company like that that I’ve ever come across,” he said. That’s because of all of the regulatory and health insurance hurdles that exist in healthcare but don’t in tech.
How a tech mentality could transform healthcare
The entrance of more people with tech backgrounds into healthcare could have a dramatic impact on the industry – if they approach the business with the same level of competition as a tech company.
“Whenever that person is willing to apply that same sort of thinking to the healthcare space, where nobody’s used to that intensity, we can often find really exciting things can happen,” Yeshwant said.
Yeshwant pointed to Flatiron Health, another company GV has invested in. Its founders worked at Google before starting the cancer information-technology company. Coming from the advertising-technology world, they could carry that competitive energy into building the team that would start diving into cancer data.
“I don’t know if they would have done that if they hadn’t had the exposure” to the competitive pressures of advertising technology, Yeshwant said.