Blake joined NEA in 2014 and focuses on investments in digital health (encompassing healthcare services and healthcare IT) and biopharmaceuticals. Prior to NEA, Blake was a member of the private equity group at Ares Management, focused on investments in healthcare. His previous experience includes investment banking at Moelis & Company and equity research at Barclays Capital. Blake graduated from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania with a BS in economics with concentrations in finance, real estate, and management.
What’s an important quality you look for in a founder?
Flexibility. The entrepreneurial journey never plays out exactly as one expects. As a founder, you have to be able to roll with the punches, adapt, and improve.
How should a founder think about the relationship they’ll have with a potential investor?
I think the relationship between a founder and their investor is a unique one; it has components of a lot of other types of relationships, but ultimately it needs to be rooted in honesty—even if it’s brutal honesty—to be successful. I talk with each of my entrepreneurs several times a week, and I never take for granted the trust they put in our relationship.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your career?
Never take shortcuts. Invest in yourself and continue learning.
You’ve been at NEA for 10 years now. What’s kept you here?
I think NEA is unique in how we invest and how we work with entrepreneurs. Capital is (relatively) simple—what matters is the value-add that an investor brings to the table. At NEA, we have a deep roster of team members to support our companies. As an entrepreneur, you get the support of our full team—not just an individual or just an investor. I’ve always felt deeply aligned with our team-oriented approach, and I’ve seen it proved out over the course of my time here.
What’s a story that best illustrates the ethos of NEA?
I’ve seen NEA be the only investor to raise a hand to pitch in when a portfolio company found itself short staffed during a major strategic shift. This inclination to roll up our sleeves and actually do the work is second nature to us. We strive to always deliver support when needed.
Who keeps you grounded?
My grandparents. Over the course of their lives, they've had to flee war, revolution, and economic crises to eventually land in America and achieve the American dream. I constantly look to them as inspiration.
“At NEA, we have a deep roster of team members to support our companies. As an entrepreneur, you get the support of our full team—not just an individual or just an investor.”
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