Mohamad first joined NEA in 2000 and now serves as Co-President. Prior to his current position, Mohamad served as Managing General Partner, Healthcare, where he led and oversaw NEA’s global healthcare investing practice across digital health and life sciences. Mohamad’s investment practice is focused on healthcare services and technology from early venture to late-stage growth, and he has helped many entrepreneurs build and scale transformative companies. Outside of NEA, he is a board member of the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health at Stanford.
You started here as a summer intern nearly 25 years ago. Tell us your NEA origin story.
Like many of our team members, my start at NEA goes all the way back to one of our founders. In my case, I was lucky enough to talk Chuck Newhall—the original founder of NEA’s healthcare practice—into an unpaid summer internship while I was still an undergrad at Penn. I immediately fell in love with the mission of building companies that help people at their most vulnerable—when they are accessing the healthcare system—and the values of a partnership that puts its LPs and entrepreneurs first. After my internship ended, all I could think about was navigating my way back to NEA.
What’s unique about NEA’s healthcare investing practice?
Three things come to mind. First, our longevity and dedication to the category. Our practice is the opposite of tourist capital. Since the 1970s, we’ve had a consistent focus on healthcare and life sciences that hasn’t wavered or waned based on the macroeconomic environment or regulatory cycles. Second, we possess deep domain expertise across our team. A lot of healthcare venture capitalists are generalists still learning about the industry, but our expertise extends into the verticals and sub-verticals in which we focus. And lastly, the multistage platform that we’ve built here at NEA allows us to partner with founders at every phase of the company-building journey, giving us a unique ability to support our portfolio companies with meaningful amounts of capital and insight from company formation to post-IPO.
Despite your responsibilities as Co-President of NEA, you’ve helped co-found and incubate several healthcare companies. Describe what that journey is like.
In a word: hard. But Tom Hanks said it best in A League of Their Own: “The hard is what makes it great.” Our team’s company incubation efforts are incredibly targeted, as we only average about one every 18 months. But when we do commit to building a new company, we do so with a differentiated investment thesis and a dedicated pool of capital. Radiology Partners in imaging, Strive Health in kidney care, and Curana Health in senior living all started as raw concepts here in our Silicon Valley venture studio. Through a combination of hard work, amazing talent, and enormous capital commitments, they turned into category-defining companies. And yes, building each of them was equal parts hard and great.
You are now in your third decade of investing in and advising healthcare companies. What makes this moment in time particularly compelling for the industry?
Healthcare is the most essential sector of the global economy—now and for the foreseeable future—because it touches everyone. If people didn’t understand that before the pandemic then they certainly do now. And yet, it’s a uniformly underwhelming consumer experience fraught with shocking waste and inefficiency. But at the same time, very few things could rival the dual impact of the pandemic and a generational wave of tech innovation when it comes to catalyzing and accelerating the long-anticipated transformation of our healthcare system.
What keeps you motivated?
If you have a problem staying motivated working in healthcare innovation then you’re not really working in healthcare innovation. I’m constantly inspired by the people I have the privilege of working alongside: smart, hungry, and humble thought leaders trying to improve the quality and cost of care for everyone. While healthcare can be a difficult and humbling industry in which to affect change, when your conviction pays off, it’s incredibly rewarding. But that kind of lasting healthcare innovation also needs capital to flourish—and I’m immensely proud of the fact that we’ve built a healthcare franchise here at NEA that can be that rare kind of stage-agnostic capital partner from ideation to exit.
What advice would you offer to healthcare founders who are thinking of raising capital?
Pick the best partner, not the best term sheet. Choosing your capital partner is one of the most consequential decisions a founder can make. Picking the right partner doesn’t guarantee success, but it can certainly derisk the path forward and amplify the probability of a positive outcome. Find someone who buys into your vision and moves the needle on the dimensions that you care about, but also someone who isn’t afraid to tell you the hard truths—because that’s what the best partners do.
“I’m immensely proud of the fact that we’ve built a healthcare franchise here at NEA that can be that rare kind of stage-agnostic capital partner from ideation to exit.”
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